High Country Baking: Bourbon-toffee baked apples
High County Baking
It’s winter in Colorado, a time for desserts that are warm, cozy and satisfying. These bourbon-toffee apples are perfect to savor on a frosty evening before an open fire. Their appeal comes from contrasts: the play between the warm fruit, crunchy nuts and cool, creamy ice cream. The sauce, rich with bourbon, toffee and molasses, adds a wonderful complexity that takes this dessert over the top.
Serve the apples warm or don’t serve them at all. You can, however, make them earlier in the day and reheat them. Stick them in a 300-degree oven under a foil cover until they are quite warm, reheat the sauce on the stove, and you’re good to go.
Bourbon-toffee baked apples
Serves four. Works at any elevation.
- 1/2-cup toasted pecans
- 4 Golden Delicious apples
- 6 tablespoons toffee bits (like those packaged by Heath or Skor)
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter plus more to grease the dish
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider
- 3 tablespoons mild-flavored molasses
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, preferably superfine
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- Vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. Select a baking dish, preferably glass or ceramic, that holds the apples so they are close together but not touching. Butter the bottom of the dish and part way up the sides. Chop half of the pecans into one-fourth to one-half inch pieces.
Peel and core the apples, leaving the bottom of the apples intact. To core them, cut around the core with a paring knife, stopping before reaching the bottom, and use a melon baller or small, pointed spoon to scrape out the stem, core and seeds. Place them in the prepared dish and fill each apple’s cavity with a tablespoon of toffee bits, a half-tablespoon of bourbon and a half-tablespoon of unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces. Scatter the rest of the toffee bits around the bottom of the pan. In a bowl, use a whisk to combine the apple cider, molasses, granulated sugar and ground ginger. Pour this over the apples and into the baking dish.
Bake the apples, basting them with the pan juices about every 10 minutes until they are very tender but not mushy. The amount of time this will take depends upon the ripeness and size of the apples you’re using. It usually takes about 1 to 1 1/2 hours for small apples to bake completely. Test for doneness with a thin skewer or long toothpick; a fork doesn’t give an accurate reading. If the juices start to evaporate or thicken before the apples are done, place a sheet of aluminum foil over the pan.
When fully baked, remove the apples from the oven, place each apple in a bowl or on a small plate with a high rim, and stuff each cavity with about a tablespoon of the toasted, chopped pecans. Pour the juices from the pan into a small saucepan and boil them until they thicken enough to coat a spoon. Dollop a scoop of ice cream next to or on each apple, sprinkle about a tablespoon of the whole pecans on each plate, pour the thickened juices over the top and serve. Both the apples and the sauce can be made several hours ahead and reheated.
Editor’s note: This recipe is a variation of one published in Bon Appetit.
Vera Dawson’s column “High Country Baking” publishes biweekly at SummitDaily.com. Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks. Her recipes have been tested in her kitchen in Frisco, where she’s lived since 1991, and altered until they work at elevation. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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