As you may know, apples are closely related to roses (I only found this out recently, and I thought it was so interesting!). This might seem strange, but bake an apple and it won’t seem so odd. Baked apples have a distinctive sweet, floral aroma just like roses. You’re probably thinking that this scent would make a lovely perfume, right? This is exactly why I love the DKNY Be Delicious fragrance collection! As edible (or food-based, I should say) scents go, this is the only one I like to wear…but vanilla is my favorite candle scent! It makes the house smell like fresh baked cookies.
There are so many different variations on baked apples I decided I wanted to share at least two of my favorites with you. The second recipe with the crumb top is the one I make more often…but the first recipe with the custard sauce is my favorite. If you’ve got the time to make the custard, it is well worth the effort, and if there’s extra custard, you can use it for any number of things (topping for ice cream/froyo, oats, or cereal...dipping sauce (fondue-style) for pieces of fruit...all-in-one sweetener and cream for coffee/tea, etc.).
Baked apples are the perfect dessert for any fall meal (and I'll admit, I like to eat them for breakfast/brunch on occasion!). You can serve them hot, cold, or room temperature and you can add whipped cream or ice cream if you really want to gild the lily.
Baked Apples with Vanilla-Nutmeg Custard Sauce
For 1 Baked Apple (can be easily adjusted for however many you want to make):
1 apple (I like Cortland or another sweet/tart apple for this)
1 TB water
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
Vanilla-Nutmeg Custard Sauce (makes about 1 cup, or enough for about 6-8 apples):
2 TB butter
½ c sugar
2 large eggs
½ c milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the apple: Preheat the oven to 325F. In a small pan, heat together the water, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Wash and core the apple (but don’t peel it), place it in an oven-safe dish (I like to use individual dishes), and pour the butter/sugar/spice mixture over it. Cover the apple with aluminum foil and cook for 35 to 55 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on your oven and the type of apple you use. The apple is done baking when it can be pierced easily with a fork.
For the custard sauce: Prepare a double boiler. Scald the milk by heating it in a small pan until small bubbles form around the edges, then taking it off the heat (don’t let it come to a boil). Cream together the butter, sugar, and nutmeg; beat in the eggs one at a time. Heat the egg mixture over a double boiler and very gradually pour the scalded milk into the egg mixture while whisking constantly. Heat the custard until it reaches 170F or until it coats the back of a wooden spoon, stirring constantly. Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve, then add the vanilla extract.
Serve the apples with 2-3 TB of custard sauce poured on top.
Baked Apples with Walnut-Oat Crumb Topping
(Yield: 2 servings)
1 TB butter
1 TB all-purpose flour
3 TB rolled oats
1 TB chopped walnuts
1 TB brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350F. In a small bowl, use a fork to cut together the butter, flour, oats, nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until it forms a crumbly mixture. Wash and core the apple (but don’t peel it), then cut it in half along its equator. Transfer each apple half to an oven-safe dish (I like to use individual dishes) and sprinkle the crumb topping on the each apple half. Bake the apple (uncovered) for about 30 to 45 minutes until the topping is golden and the apple is tender (i.e., when it can be easily pierced with a fork). Cooking time will vary depending on your oven and the type of apple you use.
(Click on an image to enlarge)