In this recipe, the apple essence is heightened by a mixture of oats, brown sugar, orange zest, and additional apple flesh in the filling. The apples are slightly caramelized before you add the filling. They’re then baked along in an apple cider and butter bath. You do need to baste these beauties every 10 minutes, but the result is well worth the effort. The basting process keeps the apples moist and helps further caramelize the outside.
- 7 large (about 6 ounces each) Granny Smith apples or equivalent
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries , coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans , toasted
- 3 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats
- 2 teaspoons orange zest, freshly grated
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup apple cider
- 2 tablespoons dark rum
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Peel, core, and cut 1 apple into 1/4-inch dice. Combine 3 tablespoons of butter, brown sugar, cranberries, pecans, oats, orange zest, cinnamon, diced apple, and salt in large bowl; set aside.
2. Combine maple syrup and cider in a small bowl; set aside.
3. Shave thin slice off bottom (blossom end) of remaining 6 apples to allow them to sit flat. Cut top 3/4 inch off stem end of apples and reserve. Peel apples and use melon baller to remove core, maintaining a 3/4-inch edge all around. (Be careful not to cut through bottom of apple.)
4. Melt remaining tablespoon butter in 12-inch nonstick oven safe skillet over medium heat. Once foaming subsides, add apples, stem-side down, and cook until cut surface is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip apples, reduce heat to low, and spoon and push filling inside, mounding excess filling over cavities; top with reserved apple caps. Add maple syrup mixture to skillet. Transfer skillet to oven, and bake until skewer inserted into apples meets little resistance, 35 to 45 minutes, basting every 10 minutes with maple syrup mixture in skillet.