Arla Nelson

Arla Nelson

Columnist’s note: Welcome to Taste of Home recipe test, every week I pick the recipe to be featured in the paper, and give it a try. To note, my cooking level should be considered average and is matched with a style that could only be described as unabashed with little to no reservations.

Initial thoughts on this recipe — Baked apples in the oven sounds relatively easy, and the ingredients are most likely in everyone’s pantry already. Fall is officially here and that means apples, pumpkins, blasting the heater in the morning, and then using the air conditioner in the afternoon. People will be getting Halloween costumes ready, and for some lunatics, decorating for Christmas.

To the kitchen: This recipe doesn’t specify any sort of apple other than tart, so I picked up some Jazz apples at City Market because the apple trees at my house have been infested with worms (the audacity!) and deemed inedible other than snacks for the horses. I am sure you could use any type of apple as long as it is a firm one (not something like a Red Delicious as those will turn to mush). The tart ones also are going to hold less sugar which is wonderful because one serving of this packs a whopping 56 grams of sugar and that is not including the ice cream. I also used cranberries with 50% less sugar and they worked stupendously.

Back at the home base, I preheated the oven, cored, peeled the fruit (take care here to leave the bottom of the apple intact so there is something between the filling and the pan), and set it into a buttered pan. I swirled the brown sugar, water and honey together into a saucepan over medium heat. Now at this point it was time to deviate from the instructions because this was begging for some cinnamon and vanilla extract. After adding those two (about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and half-a-teaspoon of vanilla) the house started smelling like the holidays and promptly brought everyone in the kitchen like flies to honey. I pulled the pan off the stove, stuffed cranberries into the apples, and poured the sugar/honey/water over the top making sure it got into the cores so the dehydrated cranberries could start to soak up the juices. I also decided to put a small pat of butter on top of each apple. If I am going to consume 56 grams of sugar you bet I am going to tap into my inner Paula Deen. More butter, more better.

At this point I slid the pan into the oven, set a timer for 10 minutes. When the timer was up, I pulled it from the oven and basted the apples in the brown sugar water. I did this about four more times at 10 minute intervals. The apples are done when you can pierce them easily with a fork, and the juice in the bottom has cooked down by half or more and has graduated to a syrup consistency. My oven, being the individual it is, took about 55 minutes to make this happen so use discretion and keep an eye on them.

Final thoughts: Finally, it was time to taste test. I wasn’t feeling much of anything towards this; however, after taking a bite I became a believer. Apples with caramelized brown sugar syrup and ice cream could very well be considered my love language. According to the internet, dishes like these have been around for a few centuries and I can see why. It was also relatively cheap to make and doesn’t require a generous amount of effort. Sugary, sweet and with the full fat of butter and ice cream, and upon asking if it was a keeper the “Yes!” was so instantaneous I almost got whiplash. Try for yourself and form your own opinion. Happy fall!

Arla Nelson is an advertising representative at the Delta County Independent. She can be reached at 970-874-4421 or arlan@deltacountyindependent.com.

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