Just thinking about baked apples brings to mind the image of an “old fashioned comfort food.” In trying times like today’s struggling economy, isn’t nurturing and comfort just what we need?
Here’s my suggestion: Set your woes aside just long enough to nurture the need. Be a smart shopper and you’ll find apples at affordable prices. I tend to seek out ethnic markets, farmers’ markets, and small mom and pop markets that often have lower prices on fresh produce.
Then, haul out the apple corer and bake up a dish of comfort for yourself and your family. You might even have these delights baking while you’re eating dinner. About halfway through the baking time, the apples begin infusing the air with sensational aromas that bring pleasure and happy anticipation to everyone present.
Deliciously homespun, this enhanced version of baked apples from my cookbook, The Nut Gourmet, is super easy to prepare and creates its own rich fruity sauce. Some of the filling that’s mounded on top of the apples cascades down into the sauce and thickens it to perfection. Included in the filling is rose water for its delightful infusion of flavor; however, if you don’t have any on hand, it can easily be omitted without harming the outcome of the recipe.
In a future blog I’ll share some really impressive nutritional info about almonds and their awesome ability to lower cholesterol with just a handful a day. For now, just enjoy some old fashioned comfort.
ALMOND PARADISE BAKED APPLES
Yield: 4 servings
4 large firm apples (Braeburn, Rome Beauty, Fuji, Gala, Pink Lady)
2/3 cup whole raw almonds
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons organic sugar
1 teaspoon rose water (optional)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup black raisins
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 cups unsweetened pineapple or apple juice
1/4 to 1/2 cup organic sugar to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and have ready an 8 x 8-inch baking dish. Wash and core the apples, arrange them in the baking dish, and set them aside.
2. TO MAKE THE FILLING, grind the almonds to a fine meal in the food processor. Add the water, sugar, rose water, and almond extract and process into a creamy paste. Spoon the almond paste into a small bowl and add the raisins.
3. Using a pointed spoon, fill the apple cavities with the almond filling, packing it firmly all the way down into the bottom of the cavity. Mound the remaining filling over the top of the apples.
4. TO MAKE THE SAUCE, combine the pineapple juice and sugar in a small bowl, mixing to desired sweetness. Pour the sauce into the bottom of the baking dish around the apples and cover the dish with aluminum foil, shiny side down.
5. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 1/2 hours depending on the apple variety. Fork-test the apples after 50 minutes. To serve, place the apples into dessert bowls and spoon some of the sauce into each bowl. Serve with spoons, though some people may prefer a knife and fork as well.
Note: The baking time for this recipe has a wide range. Some apple varieties, like Rome Beauty, are softer and bake in 50 to 6i0 minutes, while very firm apples like Fuji take longer.