Thursday, November 8, 2012

Baked Apples

Home by Philip Phillips
It's been a rough road, this presidential campaign trail.  Whether your candidate won or lost, we're all feeling a little rough around the edges.  I'm not about to suggest that anything we eat is going to fix the troubles we're facing as a nation, but it might put us in the right mood.  A peaceful mood.  A reflective mood.  We need something deeply American.  How about a baked apple, that's also partly pie?  I promise this is a decision you'll be able to make with utmost confidence - the outcome a certainty.  It'll feel like you've come home.

Today's post is brought to you by my siblings!  Yep!  It's a family affair!  Let me fill you in.

A month or so ago, my oldest brother, Ed, asked me if I could come up with a recipe for a baked apple like one he had recently seen.  He described it to me and, I, like him, was just drooling!  It sounded heavenly!  But could I come up with something that would equal the "dream" version?  I started thinking about the descriptors - mystery creamy filling, caramel drizzle . . .  Hmmm.

Well, then - a couple weeks ago - my husband and I and our eldest son's family went to my "home" to Pennsylvania for a visit.  My little sister, Brenda, was eager to fix us a meal - a German meal, that is - and we were all very excited.  You see, she is a marvelous cook.  She is one of the lucky ones in the family that inherited that "natural good cook" gene.  I had to go buy my cooking gene at Walla Walla Community College!  Haha!

We enjoyed a delicious meal of brats and cabbage and all the trimmings.  And then she brought out dessert!  It was baked apples!  But not just any baked apples.  These were divine!  In the category of "life-changing" divinity!  I swooned.  Little sister did GOOD!  The chef in me kicked in and I started asking questions, thinking about how big brother was still waiting on that baked apple post!  Maybe he'd asked the wrong sister!  

The bar was set high now.  I wanted to create something that tasted just as delicious as Brenda's - a flaky bit of pie dough, just the right amount of cinnamon, the caramel drizzle.  She served hers with ice cream.  But Ed talked about some sort of creamy something in the center of his dream dessert.

After way too much thought - I decided to just take the plunge and see what I came up with.

And, you know what?  I did real good, too!  I used McIntosh apples - they are my favorite baking apple.  
But Grannies would work just as well.  I made my own pie dough, but this is great with store-bought as well.  When I've tried wrapping apples in pie dough before for baked apples, the crust would just slide down off the apple.  To remedy that, I made pie dough "poncho" circles and draped it over the top of the apples, leaving the bottom of the apple open.  This way, gravity helped keep the crust on the apple!  I cut a little hole in the middle of the "poncho" to expose the center of the apple for the fillings.  This technique worked rather well.

I'm so very happy to share this recipe with you today!  It's one of my favorites already!  They are best served still warm - not too hot.  The creamy center is just really a lovely, lovely surprise!  These melt in your mouth and you WILL make yummy noises!  Bake up some "love," and "peace" today!

Baked Apples
makes 8 servings
8 apples, such as McIntosh or Granny Smith
1 recipe of pie dough, or store bought
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 T. cinnamon
pinch of kosher salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c. turbinado sugar, or regular sugar works, too

1 - 8 oz. container mascarpone cheese
1 c. powdered sugar
1/4 t. cinnamon

caramel topping
1 c. chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll the pie dough out and cut out circles that are about 4 1/2" in diameter.  Cut a 1" hole in the center of each of those dough circles.  Set aside.

Core the apples, being careful not to go through the bottom of the apple.
Go ahead and stick your finger down in there and feel around to make sure you got all those hard core bits and seeds out.

Peel the top two-thirds of the apple, leaving skin on that bottom third.  Mix together the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and salt and place in a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off or a pastry bag.  Squeeze the butter mixture into the center of each apple, filling to the top.  This will  melt down and bathe the apple while it's baking, leaving the center open for the creamy filling when you serve.
Place a dough circle or "poncho" over each apple, situating the center hole over the filled core area.
With your hands, carefully mold the dough around the apple.  Place the apples in a baking dish coated with cooking spray.  In a small bowl, beat the egg with a splash of water, until completely broken up.  Brush the pie dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar - I like to use chunky turbinado sugar for the look and texture.
Bake the apples for 35 minutes, or until crust is golden and apples are softened.  Don't overcook or the apples will collapse!  The butter mixture in the center of the apples has melted away and the holes are now available for the creamy filling when cooled!

Let cool in the pans.  When cooled, but still warm, carefully transfer each apple to a serving dish, preferably a saucer or bowl.

Beat together the mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, and cinnamon.  Place the mixture in a pastry bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped.  Pipe mixture into the now empty center of each apple.  Drizzle a spoonful of caramel over the top of each apple and top with the toasted walnuts.  Sit back and enjoy!

You might even want to bake each apple in it's own little ramekin.  Then all the delicious syrup that is created during the baking process stays with each apple in the bottom of the dish!  


  1. This is amazing!!! YUM!

    1. I hope you get a chance to make this! It really is delicious and comforting!

  2. Oh My Heavenly scrumptious. This is SO going on my list of "gotta makes". Again, you amaze me. P.S. where do you buy the cheese for the filling?

    1. I find mascarpone cheese by where they sell the little Laughing Cow and hummus in our Yokes. It's very similar to cream cheese, not quite as tangy, though. It might be in the specialty cheese section. Happy hunting!