Bread is good stuff, but how do you make it great? That’s right, you toast it. Onions are a staple all of sorts of dishes, and what do you do to unlock their flavor? Yep, you cook ’em. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when you bake apples, you create a flavor profile richer and more complex, not to mention sweeter, than you get with boring raw fruit. Oh, and what’s one more thing toasted bread, simmering onions, and baked apples have in common? Butter.
Baked apples "make for a great holiday dessert" says registered dietician, chef, and food writer Kristen Carli. They’re also easy to make and can easily be made vegan-friendly. That said, Carli adds that baked apples "are great served with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or caramel sauce."
Here’s how you can pull off these baked apples at home.
Gather your ingredients for this baked apples recipe
This recipe calls for just a few ingredients, all of which almost all kitchens will always have on hand.
You’ll need six large apples for the proportions covered here. A crisp variety like a Gala, Fuji, or honeycrisp works best here, but most any apple is fine. You also need nine tablespoons of brown sugar (which will be divided), two and a quarter teaspoons of cinnamon (also divided), three tablespoons of butter (ditto), two tablespoons of all-purpose flour, and three quarters of a cup of boiling water.
Gather it all, and start pre-heating to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare your baked apples
This is the only slightly difficult (and even ever-so-slightly dangerous) step of this whole process: preparing the apples to be filled with sweet buttery goodness. "The coring of the apples is a little tricky if you don’t have an apple corer," says Kristen Carli. If you are without a corer, "carefully use a paring knife. Be gentle so you don’t split open the apple," she cautions. Also don’t cut yourself.
Core each apple, then place them open side up on a baking sheet.
Prepare your apple filling, then fill your baked apples
In a small bowl, stir together eight (of your nine) tablespoons of brown sugar and two (of two and a quarter) teaspoons of your cinnamon, and whisk them well. Now divide this sweet powder out evenly, scooping it right down into the center of each cored baked apple. Now, put a cube of butter atop the powder in each apple’s core, with the butter cubes measuring a bit smaller than a tablespoon each. (But don’t worry too much, this is art, not science.)
Place all of your apples in a baking dish that gives them plenty of room.
Make the streusel topping, add water, and bake your baked apples
In another small bowl, make the baked apples streusel topping by combining one tablespoon of butter, both tablespoons of flour, your remaining tablespoon of brown sugar, and your remaining quarter teaspoon of cinnamon. Using a fork, mash the mixture until a crumble results. Sprinkle the crumble evenly on top of each apple.
Now, carefully pour the boiling water into the pan so that it does not touch any of the toppings, instead flowing around the bases of the apples. Pop the pan into the oven and bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. And watch out for amazing aromas starting well before the half-hour mark.