Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Posts Tagged ‘baked apple’

Chestnut Stuffed Apples

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on February 13, 2009

I adore chestnuts—not that I don’t love all the other nuts, too, but chestnuts—well—they’re special—really special. Chestnuts have a texture like no other nuts. They’re very very low in fat so they have a totally different mouthfeel from other nuts.

Tree nuts are known for their high monounsaturated fat content, but chestnuts are different with a total fat content of 8%, while almonds contain about 80% fat and walnuts have about 87% total fat. Even the saturated fat content of chestnuts bottoms out at 2%, while other nuts range from 7 to 22%.

Chestnuts are starchy and, when cooked, their texture could be compared somewhat to a firm, boiled potato—actually, more like a creamy Asian sweet potato because chestnuts are sweet. Also, chestnuts are not crunchy like other nuts, and they’re mostly eaten cooked rather than raw. Their soft texture and sweetness set them apart from other nuts.


Try free-associating the words “baked apples” and you’re sure to arrive at familiar words like home, homespun, comfort food, old-fashioned, Mom, fragrant aromas, warmth, sweet, raisins, and kitchen. But it’s doubtful you’ll connect chestnuts with baked apples. This grand combination, heightened with orange blossom water and a heavenly sauce, invites happy gorging in a good sense—the ingredients are wholesome and nourishing. This is a great make-ahead dessert that can be served chilled or gently warmed. To warm the apples, place them in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes. To warm the sauce, place it in a saucepan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Yield: 4 servings

4 sweet apples (Fuji, Gala, or Pink Lady), washed and cored

1 cup cooked, peeled, coarsely chopped chestnuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup chopped pitted dates
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon orange blossom water**
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Creamy Sauce
3 cups vanilla soymilk
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 to 3 tablespoons water

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, place the prepared apples into an 8 x 8-inch baking pan, and set aside.
2. TO MAKE THE FILLING, combine the chestnuts, raisins, dates, water, maple syrup, lemon juice, orange blossom water, and cinnamon in the food processor. Pulse and process until the mixture is almost pureed, leaving the mixture with a little toothy texture. You may have to stop the machine once or twice to scrape down the sides of the processor and process again to incorporate the stray bits.
3. Use a pointed spoon to fill the cored apples, pushing the filling firmly down into the bottom of the cavity. Mound the remaining filling over the top of the apple and smooth the top.
4. Place an aluminum foil tent (shiny side down) over the baking dish and seal the edges well. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes. Baking time will vary with the apple variety. Fork test after 50 minutes.
5. TO MAKE THE CREAMY SAUCE, combine the soymilk, brown sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently with a wire whip. Watch carefully to avoid a messy boil-over.
6. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl or cup and stir to form a runny paste. Add the paste to the gently bubbling sauce a little at a time, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute, or until thickened to desired consistency.
7. TO SERVE, place the baked apples into individual dessert dishes and spoon a generous serving of the sauce into the bottom of each bowl, forming a pool of creamy sauce.

To enhance the dessert presentation, here are some suggestions:

    Float fresh raspberries in the sauce
    Float fresh strawberries in the sauce
    Make a sauce with raspberries or strawberries blended with sugar to taste and drizzle over the top
    Drizzle warm chocolate syrup over the top of the apple filling and allow it to cascade down the sides
    Drizzle a small amount of rum, brandy, Kahlua, or Crème de Cocoa into the sauce

**Orange blossom water can be purchased at most Middle Eastern, Greek, Italian, Armenian, and Iranian grocery stores. If you are unable to locate it, don’t worry. Simply leave it out, and the recipe will still bring delicious satisfaction.

Posted in chestnuts, Nut Desserts, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Vegan Desserts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A Spoonful of Almond Paradise

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on January 28, 2009

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.

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.

Posted in almonds, Nut Recipes, Vegan Desserts | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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