Queenie Cooks: Easy Baked Stuffed Apples

By Terry Harris

They can say all the want about pumpkin, but to me, there’s nothing that says “Fall is coming” like the first pick of the new crop of apples.  There are so many varieties of apples and so many great dishes featuring apples that it’s hard to pick a favorite, but this is one of my go-to dishes for most anything. 

Besides being delicious Baked Stuffed Apples are just so quick and easy to prepare. All you have to do to make the ones I’m sharing today is scoop out the core and stuff the insides with a mix of oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon, pecans, raisins and top them with butter.  I love that they require only a few ingredients (which you probably already have on hand – a big plus) and oh my goodness are they delicious! 

They’re also fun to experiment with, as you can add some of your own favorite bits to the stuffing.  I always like to add at least a little cinnamon, but you can use as little or as much as you like to your taste.  As for anything else, just use your imagination! Try your own or family favorites like orange or lemon zest, grated or candied ginger, cream cheese, mascarpone, peanut butter, Nutella, something else? The only real limitations will be your tastes and imagination.

As for appropriate occasions, again, they are so versatile!  With a simple change of serving dish – and maybe the addition of some ice cream or sweetened yogurt – they can instantly go from the centerpiece of a leisurely morning breakfast to the star side dish at a holiday table to an absolutely fabulous dessert! In fact, this is one of my “go to” recipes when I don’t feel like – or have the time for – putting together something elaborate for just an easy, warm treat to end an evening.

When baked, the apples soften into a simple, delicious treat with surprisingly complex flavor that is perfect to serve to friends who drop by or for just a quiet-time treat for yourself.  And the brown sugar and butter melted down into a light caramel syrup makes them as much of a treat for kids as they are for adults.  Not only are they as nutritious as they are delicious (let’s not tell the kids), but they’re even a great option for serving vegan or gluten-free friends.

You can simplify preparation by omitting the raisins or nuts, or you can go in the opposite direction and jazz them up with a scoop of cream cheese or peanut butter as an extra-special treat. I love how they satisfy a weeknight craving for something warm and sweet, but would just as easily make a great, easy dinner party dessert dressed up with a dollop of crème fraîche or a drizzle of chocolate sauce. 

Your best bet for removing the center and the seeds probably is an apple corer to help avoid splitting the skin or puncturing the bottom with a knife before baking. However, if you don’t have an apple corer, a melon baller works great.  In fact, it gives you a little more room for experimentation as you can easily scoop out as much apple as you like to make room for more stuffing.  But you really can do this with a grapefruit spoon or even a paring knife.  Just be sure to leave the bottom of the apple intact to hold in all the juicy goodness in the center.

One more tip - you can easily tell when they’re ready to eat, as the skins get wrinkly or cracked.  Just bake them until they’re cooked through and tender, but not mushy.  And be sure to baste them with the juices from the pan when you take them out of the oven for a little extra goodness! 

Leftover Baked Stuffed Apples make a fantastic breakfast the next day as you can easily heat them up in the microwave, or you can just eat them cold. Extra bonus - if you’re expecting company for the week-end and want to spend your time visiting rather than cooking, or even if you just want to have some to eat over the course of a few days, these will keep for about a week in the refrigerator – if you ever have any left that long.   Enjoy! 

Queenie’s Baked Stuffed Apples

4 medium apples (any variety, but I particularly like Granny Smith or Honeycrisp for baking)

1/4 Cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/4 Cup (light or dark) brown sugar

2 Tablespoons raisins

2 Tablespoons chopped pecans

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

4 (1 teaspoon each) pats butter

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

1 Cup hot water

Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove apple center from the top, leaving ¾ inch wide cavity, being careful to leave bottom half inch intact.

Mix together all ingredients except butter and water. Pack filling firmly into apples.

Arrange apples in 8”x8” baking dish and top each with a pat of butter. Pour the water into the bottom of the dish, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and continue baking approximately 25 minutes longer, uncovered, until apples are soft but not mushy, and brown sugar has melted into a syrup.

When done, baste apples with juices from pan. These are delicious as they are, or may be served with whipped cream, crème fraiche, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave or served cold or at room temperature.