When the season brings us apples, it’s like Mother Nature is just handing out candy for free. But as the season grows colder, chomping down into these crisp but cold goodies might get harder to do. Not to mention, picking out the good apples (literally and figuratively) is harder than it looks. And that’s exactly what leads so many people to turn those apples into apple pie instead – all apples taste better hot and glazed! Now, pie isn’t exactly the natural nectar we love about apples so much, so it might not seem like an ‘even steven’ tradeoff. Well, we have some news…it doesn’t have to be one or the other!
There is the middle ground, and it’s a sweet compromise indeed. In fact, it might kick apple pie off of the table forever.
We’re talking about seared, buttered apples – perfect all on their own. They are comfortingly warm, addictively sweet, and they don’t need any crust. Not to mention, shopping for them is a breeze – unlike other apple treats that require selective apple picking, both the “cooking” and “eating” variety are invited to this dish. In fact, a variety can add different flavors and textures, balancing juicy and chunky textures with sweet and tart aromas, creating an extra delicious and colorful sum of all parts.
On top of that, this is one of our beloved Earth’s most plentiful and sustainable resources! This fall fruit has the third-highest production in the US, and by nature, they keep well plucked out from the orchard and transported from place to place. So making use of them is a win/win!
Follow this recipe to take the once-forbidden fruit to the next level:
6 small apples, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup unsalted butter, plus 1 additional tablespoon separately
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
2.5 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup chopped pecans
Vanilla ice cream or heavy cream, for serving
– Preheat oven to 375°F
– Use the 1 tablespoon of butter to grease a 13- x 9-inch baking dish on the bottom and sides
– Scoop out the core and seeds from each apple half (grapefruit spoons, melon ballers and teaspoons work well for this)
– Slice a thin sliver off of the rounded sides so they will lay flat
– Lay them inside-up on the baking dish.
– Melt the rest of the butter in a small saucepan on medium heat
– Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and Chinese five-spice; heat until fragrant and just beginning to brown (about 1 minute)
– Whisk in brown sugar, lemon juice, and salt
– Spoon butter mixture evenly into the apple’s hollowed part, and the back of a spoon to spread a thin layer onto cut surfaces of apples
– Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30-40 minutes
– Take off the foil and drizzle pecans on top, basting the surface with juices from the bottom of the pan
– Crank the temperature up to 400°F, and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes
Serve! Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream make a delectable addition.
When shopping for apples, keep in mind:
The Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Northern Spy, Pink Lady (aka Cripps Pink), and Rome varieties hold their shape better.
The Cortland, Empire, Gala, Fuji, Macoun, and McIntosh tend to lose their shape.