Sunday, November 7, 2010

Not your Grandma's baked apples

When I was a kid, I was frequently on diets. My mother would have me on diets, and then I'd go to my grandmother for the summer, where I spent weeks following whatever the latest low-calorie miracle plan happened to be. None of them were very long-lived but while they were going on, they were followed with a fervor some people reserve for religion or military service.

No matter what they were called, they all had the same basic tenets: eat less fatty stuff, eat more vegetables, and dessert is the devil.

This translated to a lot of very boring baked apples that were only minimally sweetened or flavored before being cooked to mush and pretending to be dessert when they had much more in common with baby food. I'm here to tell you, pouring a Fresca on an apple and sticking it in the microwave does not make it taste like apple pie, no matter what the little handbook says.

But now, my husband has some heart issues and diabetes. We have some directives. Eat less fatty stuff. Eat more fiber. Dessert is the devil. Sounds vaguely familiar, doesn't it?

What I also have is this kid.

Clearly, he's pretty fond of his apples. Which means we have a lot of them around our house. And despite the fact that he eats them two at a time, it's still a challenge for him to get to every apple in a bushel (yes, a bushel) before they start to see better days.

And that means...baked apples.

I approached the idea with some horror. Obviously, I have issues. Plus, I like food, and I like it to taste good, but I am also pretty fond of my husband and I'd like to keep him around for a while. My objectives, obviously, were at war.

Sweet Heat Apples

4 large apples, halved and cored
4 T. softened butter (I used a butter-canola oil blend)
1/4 c. coconut sugar (maple, demerara or brown sugar would work well, too)
3/4 c. oatmeal
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 aji panca chile, finely chopped (Any mild, fruity dried chile would work. If that's not available, use a little cayenne to taste.)
1 c. apple cider

Place apple halves in a large baking dish. Cut butter with sugar, oatmeal, vanilla caviar (bury your scraped bean in some sugar for a great treat, or save and refrigerate to steep in some hot milk for a fantastic alternative to hot chocolate), cinnamon and chile. Divide between apple halves, mounding on top. Pour cider into baking pan (not over apples). Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Serve drizzled with the baking liquid.


  1. Well that sounds fabulous, and we still have a bunch of apples from the CSA, so I am definitely going to give this a go. Love the idea of the chiles, and I have some from Marx! Yay!

  2. A little ice cream really worked with the chile, too, Angela.