If you’re looking for a light and easy dessert that will make your house smell like apple pie, look no further than old-fashioned baked apples. Filled with brown sugar and spices, dotted with butter, then baked in boozy apple cider, baked apples are perfect for a chilly evening when you’re craving something sweet and comforting but don’t want to expend much effort. The hardest part is coring the apples, but a melon baller makes quick work of it.
The base recipe is simple, but you can easily jazz these up by adding ¼ cup each chopped nuts and dried fruit to the brown sugar mixture. The apples are best warm from the oven but cold leftovers are delicious too, and they can be served plain or topped with vanilla ice cream. For best results, use Fuji or Gala apples; they bake up nice and tender and maintain their shape without exploding out of their skins.
What You’ll Need To Make Baked Apples
Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Using the smaller side of a melon baller or a sharp-edged measuring teaspoon, core the apples, leaving the bottom 1/2 inch of the apples intact, and remove. (Do not use an apple corer, as it’s difficult to prevent going all the way through.)
In a small bowl, add the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
Mix until well-combined.
Place the apples in a 2 to 2.5-qt baking dish (they should fit snugly). Spoon the brown sugar mixture evenly into the apples.
In a liquid measuring cup, combine the apple cider, brandy (if using), and lemon juice.
Top each apple with a chunk of butter and pour the cider mixture around the apples. The liquid should come about 1 inch up the sides of the baking dish. Add more cider if necessary.
Bake for about 45 minutes, until the apples are tender when pierced with a sharp knife.
Let cool for a few minutes, then carefully transfer the apples (and some of the cooking juices, if you like) to serving bowls. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.
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