These apples perfume the kitchen during baking, and the juices result in a sweetly spiced sauce. Add a scoop of ice cream for dessert, or serve the apples plain for breakfast.
- 6 large (7 to 10 ounces each) baking apples, such as Braeburn, Empire, Honeycrisp, Jonathan or Rome
- 1/2 cup apple juice, apple cider or cranberry juice cocktail
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
- 6 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey, maple syrup or dark corn syrup
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position.
Using an apple corer or a small, sharp paring knife, core the apples. (The center cavity should be no more than 1 inch in diameter.) If necessary, trim a thin slice from the bottom of each apple so it stands upright.
Using a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife, peel away a 1-inch ring of skin from around the top of each apple. Using the tip of a paring knife, make four small slashes about 1/2 inch deep around the equator of each apple. (These steps aid the release of steam, which helps the apples remain intact rather than collapsing.)
Place the apples in a baking dish just large enough to contain them, such as a 9-by-9-inch or 7-by-11-inch baking dish.
In a bowl, combine the juice or cider, lemon juice and vanilla and pour the mixture around the apples. If desired, divide the raisins evenly among the apples and place them in the cavities. In the same bowl you used for the juice mixture, combine the sugar, honey or syrup, butter and cinnamon. Divide the mixture evenly among the apples, spooning it into the cavities.
Bake the apples, basting occasionally with the pan juices, until they are tender when pricked with the tines of a fork, about 45 to 65 minutes, depending on the size and variety of apple. Set the apples aside to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. (May cover and refrigerate for up to several days and reheat until warm, but not hot, before serving.)
To serve, place the apples in individual bowls and spoon the warm juices over and around them.
Cookbook author Nancy Baggett.
Tested by Nancy Baggett and Becky Krystal.
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