Baked Apples

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Baked Apples with Salted Caramel Sauce

Baked Apples
Make a bunch of baked apples to celebrate Mabon. Image by Armstrong Studios/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Mabon, the autumn equinox, is the season in which the apples orchards are blooming. Typically at their most abundant in the fall, an apple orchard is a great place to spend the afternoon – take your kids out, go apple picking for a day, and then come home and use your harvest to make delicious meals! Apples aren’t just for making pies – they come in handy for plenty of other things too. One of the annual favorites in our house is baked apples with salted caramel sauce. These are delicious and easy to make, and you can either serve them up as a snack, a side dish, or a dessert – the possibilities are endless!

This recipe is based in part on a traditional German Christmas dish, the Bratapfel, which is an apple stuffed with nuts, honey and plums. It’s also a completely shameless homage to my own love of caramel apples, which I think is one of the best parts of the autumn season.

Preheat your oven to 375 and gather your ingredients! Here’s what you’re going to need.

For the Baked Apples:

  • 6 of your favorite kind of apples – I like Fujis or Granny Smith
  • ½ C brown sugar
  • ½ C chopped walnuts or pecans
  • ¼ C golden raisins
  • ¼ C honey
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • Water

For the Salted Caramel Sauce:

  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ stick unsalted butter (that’s 4 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (add more or less, depending on how salted you like your salted caramel)

Directions:

Remove the core from the apples and hollow them out, leaving the bottom half-inch or so of the apple intact. The easiest way to do this is to start with an apple corer to remove the center (down to that half-inch point), and then grab a sharp paring knife to widen the hollow. Ideally, you’ll want to make it at least an inch wide, but go for two inches if possible, because you’re going to be stuffing that apple with other delicious things. After you’ve hollowed out your apples, place them in a baking dish with a little bit of water in the bottom. You can also use apple juice or cider, in place of the water, which will give your apples an extra bit of zing.

For your filling, combine the brown sugar, chopped nuts, raisins, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger together in a bowl and mix well. Scoop the filling into the center of your hollowed out apples, and top each with a half tablespoon of butter. Place the baking dish in the oven, and bake for at least 30 minutes – 45 is probably better. You’ll want the apples to be tender but not mushy, so start checking them about half an hour in, because oven temps tend to vary.

Once they’re done, pull them out and baste them with the juice from the bottom of the baking dish, and then let them cool for ten minutes. Top them with salted caramel sauce, or a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Or both – we won’t judge you.

To make the salted caramel sauce, melt the butter and brown sugar together over medium heat in a heavy saucepan. Add in the heavy cream and vanilla, whisking or stirring regularly. After about seven to eight minutes, you should see this mixture start to thicken. Add in the kosher salt, reduce heat to low, and whisk for another minute or two. Once you remove it from the heat, it will thicken even more, and be perfect for drizzling over your freshly baked apples!