Baked apples remind me of summer camp. The smell coming from the oven brings me back to those weeks away from the parents, filled with outdoor activities, campfires, and friends. While I loved kayaking on the lake and clambering through obstacle courses, one of my favorite memories revolved around a campfire, a bag of apples, a stick of butter, and some cinnamon sugar. I remember being so excited to eat the sweet tender fruit that I would try to eat it before it was cool and would wind up burning my tongue. Ouch!
I’ve learned a few things since then (to let my food cool, for example… well, most of the time anyways!), but when I came across this healthier version in Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, I knew I had to make it. Even better, I knew I could easily make this (mostly) paleo and vegan!
So with my photog friend Bailey’s help (of BKCphoto), we baked a few of these bad boys to create a paleo/vegan treat to share with you all. 🙂 You won’t even need a knife to cut up these guilt-free desserts; they’ll just melt on your fork and then again in your mouth.
Our little sous-chef kept us company while we baked and eyed our creation… we didn’t give him any of the final product, but I did slip him a few pieces of fresh apple. 🙂
Start by peeling and coring your apples and then cutting them in half. Don’t toss your peels, though, you’ll be using them later! Rub each apple with a slice of lemon. Then, measure out your dried fruit and nuts and set aside, along with your apple peels.
Preheat the oven to 350F and arrange apples in a oven-proof baking dish.
Cut 2 tablespoons of butter into 16 pieces. Place a piece of butter on each apple, top with a tablespoon of the fruit and nut mixture, and then top the mixture with another piece of butter.
Pour the apple cider into the baking dish, then cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and toss in the cider. Do the same with the apple peels. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 60-75 minutes, basting them every 15 minutes with the apple cider. The bake time really depends on the apples you select and how big they are – the Jonagold apples I used here took 75 minutes, so just keep checking them. Take them out when they are tender and can easily be cut with a spoon.
Let the apples cool for about 10 minutes, then serve, topped with leftover sauce from the baking dish.
Or… if you want to cheat sliiightly, top with some whipped cream or crème fraîche. 🙂
Full disclosure: I topped the leftovers with some vanilla ice cream, and I must say they were the best served this way. You can still keep this vegan by using soy or coconut milk-based ice cream, of course!
Paleo* Baked Apples
(recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table)
- 4 Apples
- 1/4 lemon
- 1/2 cup of chopped dried fruits – I used apricots, cranberries, and blueberries
- 2 tbsp chopped nuts – I used walnuts
- 1 1/2 tbsp honey (strict vegans can use agave)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 4 tbsp of vegan butter
- 2/3 cup of apple cider
Peel and core apples and cut in half. Keep the apple peels and set aside.. Rub each apple with a slice of lemon. Preheat the oven to 350F and arrange apples in a oven-proof baking dish.
In a small bowl, mix together dried fruits, nuts, and honey, spice and salt. Cut 2 tablespoons of butter into 16 pieces. Place a pad of butter on each apple, top with about a tablespoon of the fruit and nut mixture, and then top with another pad of butter.
Pour the apple cider into the baking dish. Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and toss with apple peels in the cider. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 50-75 minutes (the time depends on the size of the apples you choose), basting them every 15 minutes with the apple cider.
Take them out when they are tender and can easily be cut with a spoon. Let cool for 10 minutes and then serve topped with leftover sauce from baking dish.
*Admittedly, vegan butter is not strictly Paleo. It is not dairy-based, but it is made from soybeans. We chose to bend the rules slightly though. 🙂
Tools you’ll need: a good knife to core the apples (a paring knife works best), and a baking dish.