This is entirely un-American of me, I apologize, but apple pie does nothing for me. I've just never really cared for it. Maybe it's all that crust or the mushy texture of the apples after they're baked. I must have had a bad experience at some point that I don't recall. Though I'll admit that some melted cheddar cheese on top (a practice I only became aware of after moving to VT, of course) certainly makes it more appealing.
Baked and stuffed apples, however, are another story. The apples actually have some texture and a little crunch left to them. And since you eat the skins (at least you should) you get added benefits, like fiber. But they're also quicker to make. No crust. No hassle. It's a simple weeknight dessert, or even better - breakfast the next morning. Also, in this recipe I stuff them with oats, making this quite similar to an apple crisp - a dish I always looked forward to as a kid. Your pick of dried fruit and nuts only make things better and better for you.
Find yourself some good baking apples. There are many unique, Vermont grown varieties available well into the winter. This time I used Northern Spies and Granny Smiths. Here is a helpful guide from the New England Apple Association for identifying and learning more about apple varieties.
Preheat the oven to 350F. After you wash your apples, use a paring knife to cut out the stem and top.
[/ezcol_1half_end] And then a spoon to scoop out the seeds a just a little of the flesh. We just need some room for stuffing - no need to hollow the apples out.
This is a good sized cavity. Keep in mind that the apples will start browning quickly. If this bothers you then just coast them with some lemon juice, though it won't really be noticeable after filling and baking.
Set the apples aside and mix together the oats and brown sugar. Alter the amount of sugar based on how sweet you like things. I think as little as 1/4 cup would be fine.
Then add in the dried fruit. I used currants. I'm a big currant enthusiast and was thrilled to find red ones fresh at the farmers market in Rutland this summer. Raisins and cranberries work well too.
Chop some nuts to add to the stuffing mix. Walnuts, pecans, almonds, peanuts - you choose.
Lastly, get your spices together - cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. I like my food to have flavor, so I tend to go strong on recipe recommendations. With the amounts I suggest below, you will certainly taste these flavors. Scale back if you need. The ginger can be powdered. I just happened to have fresh. It does make a big difference, however, as does grating whole nutmeg and grinding whole cloves, if you have those.
Mix everything together then getting stuffing. Really pack it in well.
Now pour some water into the bottom of the pan to prevent burning and to help speed up the cooking.
Top each with a teaspoon of butter before getting in the oven. They look good already, don't they? Bake for 30 minutes - you should be able to easily pierce the apples - and enjoy. You might not want to give up your apple pie traditions, but I don't think anyone would refuse one of these whether at the holiday table or hot out of the oven on a cold night - or morning.