Cooking with Kids: Maple Pecan Baked Apples

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:


Pie Apple

These apples hold their shape when baking and are ideal for slicing into pancakes, drying for apple chips, or packing between pastry for the perfect apple pie.

Varieties: Braeburn, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Granny Smith, Jonathon, Golden Russet (dries particularly well).

Cooking Apple

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.

Munching Apple

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.

Salad Apple

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.

Varieties: Cortland, Russet (my favorite for salads and pizza), Granny Smith ( Cheri uses these in her chicken and apple panini).

Cider Apple

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
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Recipe type: Dessert
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: 5-6 apples
We use homemade granola as the base for our baked apples as it provides a wonderful contrasting crunch to the soft apple. You could also use rolled oats, or skip it altogether and instead increase the dried fruit and nuts. It’s your call!

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.
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. Remove from oven and serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

 

What is your favorite variety of apple?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites.

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Comments

  1. We’re going apple picking on Saturday, so this post is perfect timing for a quick apple refresher course!

    I also cracked up laughing about Mateo’s commentary about selling the baby. :) Oh kids…
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm’s last post: It’s a Beautiful Day to be a Bookworm

  2. I like gala apples and granny smiths. Gotta have some tang in mine.

    What a great recipe here! Especially since we have some freshly picked apples on hand to bake. Inspiring photos too. My son will enjoy making these!
    Julia’s last post: Our First Nebraska Apple Orchard Trip

  3. Ooo! Those look good. I’m bookmarking this recipe for after we go apple picking. My favorites (depending on the use): gala, fuji, jonathan, and golden delicious.

  4. My favorite apple variety is Jonagold – crisp, sweet and tart at the same time, and juicy! But most importantly, Jonagolds are very versatile and can be used for almost anything apple related. Love them!

    My little one turns 3 in 8 days and I just love some of the things she says. My current favorite was the other day she turned to me and said, “Mommy, I am feeling cracky today!” I think, she meant cranky – we’ve been stressing telling people how you feel. Kids – have to love them!

    Thanks for another yummy looking recipe!
    Kelli’s last post: Our Little Friend

  5. great post with great info and pictures!
    alison @ Ingredients, Inc.’s last post: Apple Praline Bundt Cake

  6. Love to see kids in the kitchen! Great resource here for knowing which apples are good for what- it’s so tough to remember!
    Lori @ RecipeGirl’s last post: Gooey Chocolate Chip Sandwich Bars… Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Cookbook

  7. LOL…he is adorable! Sell the baby, too cute. These look amazing and with my little guy on break from school I know what we will be making next week. Personally I have always loved Golden Delicious apples.
    Tickled Red’s last post: Blue Cheddar Cornbread and Granny

  8. Thanks for the apple info. Most of the apples we have gotten this fall have been gleaned, so I’m not sure what varieties they are. Most are being made into applesauce, so I’m not sure it matters THAT much, but I would like to make some pie filling to can (without it turning to applesauce). I can definitely tell the difference in character between the different mystery apples.

    My son is three, too, and when we brought his sister home last month, and after he was totally bored with her lack of walking and talking, he got a glint in his eyes as he was petting her head and said, “I know, Mom, let’s eat her!” Umm, no. I was initially worried that I was raising a little cannibal, but realized that we’ve eaten the all of the chickens we’ve brought home, and he knows we’re going to eat the goats we’ve been raising all summer. After our conversation about how his sister is not food, he hasn’t brought it up again, and he hasn’t asked for any chianti, so I think we’re good.

  9. ah kids are hilarious. thanks for the apple info. it’s full on apple in my house right now.
    mis-cakes’s last post: Some Things Never Get Old

  10. This looks amazingly Yummy, great must try..:)) Your lil helper is adorable..I would love for you to link this to my fall crawl block party happening now via http://theartsygirlconnection.blogspot.com pweease..Ty :))

  11. Oh that is too cute! How do kids come up with these questions? lol
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen’s last post: Marinated Roasted Eggplant, Zucchini and Tomatoes with Garlic and Thyme | Preserving Summer

  12. This sounds delicious! I love Cortlands for making applesauce or apple butter too, although I also like to mix a few different kinds of apples together. Love this simple recipe!
    Tracy’s last post: Half Moon (Black & White) Cookies

  13. Those stuffed baked apples look wonderful and the conversation that took place while making them with Mateo was too cute.

    P.S. Hopefully after the baby arrives little big brother doesn’t start asking *Mommy, how do you spell *For Sale?* while working on a big piece of bristol board with his crayons. LOL
    Paula’s last post: Golf and Blueberry Pie

  14. Dear Mateo: Don’t ever grow up, please. You’re too perfect now. But then, you get it from your mama.

    Dear Aimee: Please come back and make me baked apples? :)
    Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies’s last post: Diner Style Cranberry Walnut Muffins

  15. Since I always forget what apple I like best for sauce, pies, eating, etc, I finally got smart and made a list. Every fall, I refer to it most faithfully. http://bit.ly/9qAPc0

    (I like the baby selling conversation. So cute.)
    Jennifer Jo’s last post: because reading books is dangerous

  16. My fav for pies has always been Golden Delicious! It’s funny how even “the lists” don’t always match up with what people use. :) Katie
    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship’s last post: Less Waste at Lunch with My Little Green Shop{GIVEAWAY}

  17. Not only for kids, Is the only dessert that my husband make. I love red delicious, of course, and fuji apples
    Sylvia@bascooking’s last post: Easy supper for impress

  18. That looks super easy and delicious ! we are going apple picking this weekend, so I’m in the process of collecting recipes , so far pie is #1, and I’m really into little tarts/ pies and of course apple sauce. And I have a feeling that baked apples will be out new hit for this season :). Thank you for sharing :)
    Aneta’s last post: Woodland Creatures Banner, Forest Animals Party Flags, Fall Decoration

  19. honeycrisp!

  20. LOVE baked apples, and yours look fantastic! I’m very late to the game congratulating you on your pregnancy — but congrats!!! Please please do not worry about how much weight you gain (or not) — I’m a firm believer that your body does what it needs to do, and if something were wrong, you would know it. Of course, that’s based on just having been pregnant once myself and zero medical experience, so there you go :) But I hope you feel great and enjoy it all!

  21. They look great. I live in Essex, England, and apparently we get some great apples around here – I read about it in a local magazine the other day. I have never really investigated our local produce, but these baked apples are certainly tempting and will make a nice change from the usual pancakes I cook with my son.
    Jon’s last post: A Guide to Losing Belly Fat with Diet and Exercise

  22. Tiny Table says:

    My favorite thing about cooking with kids is the conversations! Waiting for the scones to cook is when we have our most meaningful talks. And with a two year old, plenty of them are like today’s: “when I grow up…. I’m going to be a polar bear that climbs trees.”
    Tiny Table’s last post: Snacktastic – celery canoes

  23. Yum! Those look so good… I know we are going to love them.

  24. Baked apples or apple pie? Quite a dilemma

  25. Yeah I like letting the kids parttake in preparing meals, mixing the dough etc, they just love it.
    Len’s last post: Best Ripped Abs Tips

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