Friday, November 7, 2014

Crisp Topped Baked Apples

Sometimes I feel the need to explain why I am posting a certain recipe; why I've combined the flavors the way I have. Today's post features a dish that need no explanation. It's the perfect time of year for apples, and even pie haters have united in their love of crisp. Serve it a la mode and you'll have one unbelievably decadent dessert. Does it ease the richness of the combo that you'll bake the apple whole, with just a little caramel spice syrup in the center to flavor it?

My syrup bubbled over the sides of my apples and created a burnt, crunchy layer at the bottom of my pan during the part where I turned the heat up to bake the crisps, so I'd suggest covering the bottom of the pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. That being said, this dessert was fairly easy to throw together, the hardest part being carving the core mostly out of the apples without cutting all the way through (leaving the bottom intact to keep the juices in). My favorite part of the recipe is the vanilla and spice clove caramel syrup. I didn't think to reserve some caramel to drizzle over the plate, but I've fixed that in the recipe directions. Also, I deliberately included more crisp topping in the recipe than can fit in the apples. I found that baking it up in a muffin tin, breaking it into large pieces and sprinkling it over the ice cream created the perfect crisp to fruit to ice cream ratio.

Baked Apples w/ Crisp Topping

Makes 4 servings

4 apples
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 Tablespoons butter
6 spice clove heads, crumbled
1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon
tiny pinch of salt
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Teaspoon maple syrup
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 Tablespoons cold butter, chopped into small pieces
(optional) 1 Tablespoon whiskey (or cognac or bourbon)

1. Preheat oven to 325 (for smaller apples or hotter ovens, 300)
2. Cut a cone shaped wedge into the center of the apple, mostly removing the core, but not cutting all the way through to the bottom of the apple; this is to keep all of the juices from flowing out during cooking. The widest part of the wedge shape will go towards the top.
3. In a pan over low heat melt butter and add salt, crushed clove bulbs and cinnamon. Cook for 5 minutes to toast the spices. Add maple syrup, vanilla and sugar and allow to melt, stirring gently and occasionally. This will take about 7 to 10 minutes. Add optional whiskey and stir to incorporate.
4. Grease a baking dish and set apples into it, cut side up. Pour approximately 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the spiced vanilla sauce into the cone cut into each apple. You want to fill the cavities to about 1/2 centimeter to the top. Try to reserve some sauce to drizzle over top.
5. Bake the apples for about 20 minutes, basting the apples with their juices every ten minutes.
6. Assemble the topping: mix together flour, brown sugar and oats until thoroughly combined. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, incorporate chopped butter until the mixture forms loose, medium sized crumbs.
7. Remove apples from oven and turn heat up to 400. Stuff each apple cavity with crisp mixture. Loosely pack the remaining topping into a muffin tin and fill each cup only about 1/2" high, to allow mixture to get properly crunchy.
8. Bake apples and muffin tin full of crisp topping in the oven for 15 minutes.
9. Serve topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Garnish with extra crisp topping and drizzled with sauce.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

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