The aroma wafting through the kitchen right now is in-sane.
Six petite heirloom apples currently roast away, bathed in vanilla-infused, fresh apple cider and filled to their brims with a cinnamon-brown sugar-hazelnut crumble.
This recipe could alternatively be titled “How to Make Your House Smell Amazing, for Serious.”
I hoarded more local apples at the farmer’s market this week. Something like four bags-full of dainty, pink-fleshed Liberties, and dark, ox-blood-hued Empires, so ashy that for a moment one could almost mistake them for late-summer plums.
I made an apple pie, in the classic way, with an all-butter crust and lattice top, and then another, filled with salted caramel for good measure. I’m still pondering a tart, and a few savory applications, but saved the littlest fruit for a simpler task: cider baked apples.
The success of a recipe like this – simple to its very core (!) – is to use the best ingredients you can find; in this case, really good apples, and really good apple cider. Here in Washington, the markets have exploded with apples – bins upon bins of them, in dozens of colors and varieties. My rule of thumb is to seek out the best local varieties (which are usually marked), and when in doubt ask the farmer. They know what’s especially tasty that day.
As for the cider, the stuff you often find at the grocery store can be… lacking. This time of year though, local farmers markets and farm stands are stocked with big jugs of fresh, flavorful cider, which far exceed the store-bought options. But honestly, even the most pedestrian apples are transformed after meeting vanilla and cinnamon and a brown sugar crumble.
So core a few apples before dinner, reduce down some cider (or don’t), stuff them with a quick crumble, and let them roast away while you eat. Enjoy them warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert, and save the leftovers for breakfast (alongside greek yogurt or warmed over oatmeal are my fav’s) the next morning. Ultimate autumnal comfort food.