Now that Noah is in school, Mateo and I have more time to play in the kitchen. We’ve made apple butter, oatmeal cinnamon muffins, homemade meusli, and a slew of other seasonal baking.
A recent apple picking outing provided us with several bushels of fresh apples, and while we’re munching them daily raw (sliced, with aged cheddar, thank you) we’ve discovered that baking them for the evening’s dessert is another delicious way to enjoy them.
Maple Pecan Baked Apples is a perfect recipe for inviting children to pull up a chair and make along with you. They can mix the filling while you core the apples, then let them stuff the apples (and sample a bit of everything), and into the oven they go (the apples, not the kids).
One-on-one time in the kitchen always leads to interesting conversations. This time Mateo (3) initiated:
Mateo: “Mommy, we’re not ever going to sell the baby are we?” (meaning his future sibling I’m currently pregnant with)
Me. “WHAT? NO! (sternly) Mateo, if a stranger offered you candy in exchange for our baby, what would you say?”
Mateo: (thinking, then:) “Thank you.”
Sigh. Where does he come up with this stuff? Please note that we have since assured him that the baby will never be ‘for sale’. Gracious!
A Snapshot of Apple Varieties and Their Uses
If I had a quarter for every conversation about appropriate apples for the job…well you get my point. Have you ever noticed an apple pie filling resembling applesauce instead of the soft individual apple pieces that it should contain under that flaky crust? That’s a perfect example of having selected the wrong variety of apple for the job.
There are dozens (hundreds, even) of apple varieties and each have their unique job description. Here are just a few of them:
Varieties: Braeburn, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Granny Smith, Jonathon, Golden Russet (dries particularly well).
If you’re looking to make classic applesauce or puree, these are your best bet. Cook them down even further for one of our favorite spreads, apple butter, or combine them with winter squash for an ideal fall soup.
Varieties: Cortland (my fave for sauce), Empire, Fuji, McIntosh, Spartan, Winesap.
Straight from the tree is the best way to enjoy an apple! Everyone has their particular favorite, but here are several that are known for their fine munching qualities.
Varieties: Cox’s Orange Pippin, Honey Crisp, Empire, Gala, Golden Delicious, Golden Russet, Granny Smith, Jonathon, Lady, McIntosh, Spartan.
We enjoyed slivers in a salad just last night, paired with shaved fennel, toasted almonds and pickled red onion. Some varieties are less likely to discolor than others and ideal for salads.
If you enjoy juicing your apples, or making homemade cider, choose apples that are known for their juicy qualities!
Varieties: Cortland, Crispin, Empire, Granny Smith, McIntosh, Winesap.
|Maple Pecan Baked Apples||
Fresh ground cinnamon, pure maple syrup and butter transform this simple dessert into something extra special – as well as perfume the kitchen with an apple pie aroma.
- 5-6 medium pie apples
- 1/2 cup granola
- 1/3 cup dried blueberries, currants or raisins
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans or other nuts
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a medium bowl, mix together granola, dried blueberries and chopped pecans. In a small bowl or Pyrex measuring cup, melt butter in the microwave; stir in maple syrup and cinnamon. Mix well and pour over granola mixture.
- Wash and core apples, leaving the bottoms attached (don’t bore all the way through the apple). With a pairing knife, widen the opening on the apple to accommodate plenty of filling!
- Place apples in a shallow baking dish and stuff with filling. Place in oven on the lowest shelf and bake for 18-22 minutes or until apples are soft. Baking time will vary with apple variety.
- Remove from oven and serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.
What is your favorite variety of apple?