Thursday, January 9, 2014

Baked Apples Filled with Fruit & Nuts

Per Nana~
About a year ago, Hubby saw a bag of dried figs at Costco and just had to
 have them. After tasting just two of them, he decided they were not to his 
liking. Into the fridge they went while I hoped to find a recipe to use 
them up. When this recipe came along I decided that here was my chance. 
Well guess what. Even dried figs do not last forever. 
They had what Google tells me were natural sugars crystallized on
 them, but they looked absolutely gross. And we were nearing the expiration
 date on the bag so instead I went with raisins, prunes, toasted pecans and
 that delicious Manuka honey from our stash of Seattle goodies. 
I do not have an apple corer so I had to use a trusty knife and spoon. 
The apples took a lot longer to cook than I expected, almost two hours, and 
they were still not very soft. Tasty, yes, but a bit "al dente". I have to 
admit that I did like the filling and as most of you know, I hate raisins. 
I am really not a fan of baked apples but this was a nice recipe and I
 am anxious to see how the other Doristas made out. 
Per Tricia~
This was another case of expectations getting the best of me. 
With the ingredients involved- dried fruit (apricots, cherries & raisins)
 and pecans that I love, cinnamon, honey and sea salt, I didn't it was
 possible for me to end up disappointed. That was the fatal error. 
Those darn expectations. 
And did I mention the cinnamon ? Not just any old cinnamon was used
 but I dug into the stash from the Sahale Snacks swag at the International 
Food Blogger's Conference in Seattle earlier this year. Sahale gave us a tin 
of their special "Yen Bai" cinnamon and it is truly out of this world. Yen Bai 
is a province in northern Vietnam, near the China border and produces what 
is considered the champagne of cinnamons due to the fact that it has the 
highest volatile oil of any cinnamon in the world. All Yen Bai cinnamon
 is Vietnamese...but not all Vietnamese cinnamon is Yen Bai. 
We were off to a good start. I continued on the swag hit and dug into
 the delicious Manuka Doctor honey we also received at the conference. 
(I can still hear the New Zealand accent of their spokesperson) We were
 all sold at the table while taste testing it and I have since learned that 
the benefits of this honey produced from bees that feed off the Manuka 
trees found in New Zealand. It is earthier and richer than other honey, 
and while it tastes delicious, it is also known for its health benefits. In fact,
 some folks literally use it right on their skin as a topical solution.  I focused
 on the taste, however, and was ready to eat the filling before even 
baking the apples.  In hindsight, I probably should have.
An apple corer appears to be the only kitchen gadget on earth that I do
 not own, and I had a tough time understanding how I was to core the 
apple while being careful not to cut through the bottom. I also felt 
horrible wasting much of the  apple to dig a wide hole for the filling so as
 a result I think the filling cavity was undersized. My bad. 
The top of the stuffed apples seemed to darken well before I could get
 them  past the al dente stage and I even threw foil on to protect them. 

I served it with a dollop of vanilla yogurt on top.

I came into this recipe liking baked apples and excited at the filling Dorie suggested, 
but there were simply too many prep steps for the apple, not to mention the
 task of having to baste them every 15 minutes, for me to want to revisit this. 
The taste testers was similarly neutral. Certainly not bad, just not a repeat for us. 
Happy French Friday ~


  1. Wait Tricia on LYL you suggested you used cider vinegar too (ahem!) or did I read that wrong? I DID use an apple corer and found there wasn't enough filling - next time I might remove more of the apple, chop it up and add to the filling! Oh, and use apple cider...

    1. YES YES YES ! I am outed for the fact that I rarely (and foolishly) read the French Friday's P & Q. After I wrote this post I was thinking about how disappointed I was with the recipe and got curious enough to peek at the P's & Q's. When I saw your comment about mistakenly using cider vinegar I was like "what ? We weren't supposed to use that ??" Then I wondered why earth I ever would have considered a vinegar butter bath as appropriate for apples. I am already planning a do-over:)

  2. I used my Manuka Doctor honey, too...YUM!!! It was nice to have a more guilt free treat for dessert...and I got to eat the filling in them all :) Yeah, I liked these, but probably won't make again. Have a great weekend, Tricia and Nana! xo

  3. I used my infamous can of cinnamon (you know, the one that I dumped all over Liz - hang my head in shame...) from Sahale as well. I hope your re-do works out better.
    Nana- it drives me crazy when I have to give up on a bag of ingredients gone bad. I think I feel like I failed my food; but, I also refuse to eat food that scares me - so good call on the figs :-)

  4. Nana sorry the figs didn't work out for you. I've used dried figs in cakes and scones but don't think they are great for snacking. Tricia I'm sorry you weren't crazy about this one. We really loved it. Some of the best baked apples I've ever made. I used a melon baller for getting out the core and it worked pretty well. Also, I didn't baste except the last half hour or so which also seemed ok. A do over might be in order but if you're not a baked apple fan, no matter how you stuff them, baste them, or what liquid you use, they are still baked apples:) Hope you ladies aren't freezing!

  5. Oh, these look even better with the cream!

  6. Nana - I had the same experience with my bag of figs after the beggar's linguine. I like dried figs, but I find that they go bad pretty quickly and I can't seem to eat them fast enough.

    And Tricia - I was with you this week. Not a repeat.

  7. I am so sorry this was not a winner for the two of you…I love baked apples and have made them for years for my family. They happen to be one of our favorite fall desserts! Tricia, I am sure that they would taste better minus the cider vinegar…however, I’m with Guyla…if you don’t like baked apples, there is nothing you can do to them to make them palatable! Nana, black mission figs often get a bit of crystalized sugar on them and they are quite safe to eat. Hope you ladies have a wonderful weekend! Stay warm!

  8. Sorry you didn't enjoy these apples. It seems I have the same results with food expectations. When I believe something is going to be fantastic, it is ok. Positive note -there is always that next recipe:)

  9. Yes, what everyone said, at least you were adventurous in trying different fillers.

  10. How fun that you dug out the IFBC treats to make this apple too, Tricia! I was able to get through my apple with a melon baller, and it worked out okay. I did the vinegar/cider faux pas for another recipe, so that is unfortunately now in my radar.

    Nana, I vacuum sealed some golden raisins a while thinking I could use them later, but they melted into this big goopy mass and threw them out. Dried fruit does get funky after all, I guess.

    Have a great weekend!

  11. I used my Manuka Honey also. For some reason I had two container discs of Yen Bau cinnamon (and, yes, it is because I took two sacks of the Sahale snacks. Oink. Oink.) LOVE that cinnamon and have almost used it up. I do have a new jar of Pensey's "Vietnamese Cinnamon, Extra Fancy" but don't know where it's from. Hate to throw out dried fruit. If you had soaked them in hot water, Nana, would that have worked? Uh, Tricia, yeah that vinegar probably did not go down well with the baked apples. Nana, good for you for making something you don't especially enjoy. Tricia, your boys will like this, I think. Try again but hold the vinegar.

  12. Bummer that neither of you liked this. Nana, buying a Costco-sized bag of a new ingredient is a brave move. If it's any consolation, my little container of figs had that same icky-looking crystallization on them, and they were rock hard. They had to go Into the trash. Tricia, I'm glad you reminded me about the tin of cinnamon. I forgot. I'll have to use it in my next baking adventure. I only wish you liked this better (though I was neutral on it too).

  13. I was very happy to read the P&Q this week - I'd thought it was cider vinegar, too. Luckily, I was spared that experience. I really enjoyed this one, though I had fairly small apples and couldn't fit much stuffing into each of them. I think I'll make an apple crumble to use up the rest of the nut/fruit/honey mixture.

  14. I was supposed to make this recipe yesterday but decided to travel instead so unfortunately it will have to wait! But the truth is I am not a huge fun of baked apples so we will see....

  15. Hmmm...I am making this tonight for dessert. I should probably start now!

  16. I am so glad you got a chance to use a couple of the swag items from IFBC but it is a bummer that it wasn't a win. :(

  17. I love that you both looked for treasures in your cupboards to use.

  18. Sorry this wasn't a hit for you ladies. My apple could have cooked a little longer as it was a bit firm. Sounds like you got great gifts at the conference.

  19. I agree, this wasn't a favorite for me either. I love that you used Manuka honey though. Yum! (Great for the filling on the side!)

  20. That's the problem with Costco. I love it, but it's so hard to use things before they expire. Although my husband probably wouldn't eaten the figs, crystallized sugar and all :-) I am so jealous of everything you guys brought home from Seattle. I'm going to keep a look out for Yen Bai cinnamon, it really sounds delicious.

  21. Okay, so I almost made the same mistake with cider vinegar, but it wasn't making sense to me. I went with a little gruner vertliner wine (no apple juice) and loved the result. Basting was a bit labor intensive. Now I need the honey and cinnamon. Sorry to hear about the dried figs.

  22. I had a similar experience as Nana - the apples took forever to cook and were still al dente. I would have preferred softer apples. It's been fun seeing all the different fillings!