Baked apples and pears
This luscious version of baked apples and pears calls for sweet wine, brown sugar and butter.
Baked apples. It conjures visions of an old-fashioned kitchen with copper pots hanging on the wall, or a flickering fireplace while the scent of fruit and spices drifts through the homestead.
But I’m an apartment dweller, and my kitchen is small. The romance of the fireplace and copper pots is only that – a romance with my dreams of an ideal kitchen. But I still know how to bake apples – and pears – with that tantalizing aroma. They’re so delicious that you feel you must eat them slowly, bite by bite, savoring the smooth cooked fruit and the contrasting crunch from the nut meat, the heady, sweet flavors. And if you whip a little heavy cream to spoon over the fruit, well, you might as well turn off the phone and shut the world out while you enjoy one of winter’s most delicious offerings.
- 4 Granny Smith apples, cored
- 4 large, firm pears, any variety, cored
- 1/4 cup brown sugar – reserve 2 tablespoons
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 cup dark raisins
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup sweet white wine such as Moscato, or water
- 2 tablespoons reserved brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons runny honey or maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup wine or water
For sugar mixture:
Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C).
Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins and nuts.
Core apples and pears.
Place the fruit in a baking dish and stuff with sugar mixture.
Dot with butter.
Pour wine or water into the bottom of the baking dish.
Bake 30 minutes.
Mix sauce ingredients and add to baking pan. Bake 30 minutes more.
Remove fruit carefully to a platter. Pour the cooking juices into a skillet and bring to a boil. Keep the juices boiling until they reduce to a thick sauce – about 5 minutes. Stir to keep it from sticking, and remove from heat immediately if it looks like it’s reducing down to candy.
Spoon sauce over fruit.
Serve warm, with slightly sweetened whipped cream flavored with a little vanilla.
Tips: To core the apples, first cut around the stem end and remove the triangular plug. A serrated knife is good for this. Then use a small spoon to dig out the seeds and to remove a small amount of the apple flesh, in order to make room for the stuffing.
To core the pears, cut off the stem end. Insert the knife and start digging the core out. Look carefully inside the pear – the seeds mostly sit on one side of the flesh.
Don’t cut through the bottom of the fruit. If you do, though, it’s still OK. The juices will run out to the bottom of the pan, but you’ll still use them in the sauce afterward.
Most recipes call for baking the fruit until “tender, but not mushy.” We prefer the fruit baked to almost a puree inside its shell, but if you’d rather serve it firm, reduce cooking time to 45 minutes. Test doneness with a skewer or thin-bladed knife.