This simple comfort food can be made with dark or golden raisins instead of the pecans if you'd like. You could use any kind of nut too - try them with walnuts or cashews. Or use dried cranberries or cherries for the filling.
The best apples for baking include Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Haralson, Mutsu, and Pink Lady. These apples don't turn mushy when cooked, and their flavor is strong enough to stand up to the heat of the oven. Don't choose Red Delicious apples for this recipe; their flavor is too mild, and the apple texture doesn't hold up when it's heated.
When I was working at the University of Minnesota Horticulture Department, the scientists there were breeding the first Honeycrisp apples. This apple has a spectacularly sweet and tart taste and the best crisp and crunchy texture. Look for it in the fall; it doesn't have a very long season.
This recipe is the essence of fall, fragrant with cinnamon, pecans, and brown sugar. The aroma of the baking apples will drift through your house, tempting all appetites. Serve this wonderful dessert with some hard sauce, which is made by mixing softened butter with powdered sugar and vanilla, or with some ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream. It's the perfect dessert for a hearty meal of meatloaf or roast chicken with a green salad and some roasted potatoes.
- 4-5 apples (Granny Smith or Honeycrisp)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter (softened)
- 1/2 cup pecans (chopped)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (divided use)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Cut the top off the apples to make a flat surface. Cut a strip of peel around the apple right next to the cut surface.
Cut the core out of the apples, making sure to leave the skin at the bottom intact.
Brush the apples with a tablespoon of the lemon juice.
In a small bowl combine remaining ingredients except for the water and remaining lemon juice. Stuff apples with this mixture. Mound any remaining mixture on top of the apples. You can top each apple with the top that you cut off if you'd like.
Place in a shallow baking dish and pour 1/3 cup water and the remaining 1 tbsp. lemon juice around apples.
Bake the apples, uncovered, at 350 F for 30 to 40 minutes until apples are tender when pierced with a fork.
Let cool 15 minutes before serving with hard sauce, ice cream, or whipped cream.