Nut-stuffed Baked Apples (vegan-izable, gluten free)

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Last weekend, I went to the market and bought a bag full of Granny Smith apples to make today’s recipe. Then I went to the library and finally jumped on the Nigel Slater bandwagon, checking out a copy of Ripe. I’ve been seeing references to Slater around the blogosphere (Lottie+Doof seems to be particularly, and charmingly, in love with him), and when I noticed that he authored a good many of the recipes I was bookmarking over on BBC food, well…it just seemed like a sign.

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Despite what that last paragraph may have you thinking, this post is actually not about something I baked from Ripe. Nope, on Saturday afternoon I first got busy in the kitchen. Then I sat down to peruse my new literary/culinary find while the heavenly smells of apples baking slowly filled the air around me. For those of you unfamiliar, Ripe is a cookbook devoted to fruit (plus a nut or two). Each chapter is devoted to a different fruit, and the chapters proceed alphabetically. Meaning that I was reading about apples and smelling them at the same time. When the apples came out of the oven, I paused reading long enough to snap a few photos, then switched over to reading about apples while eating one. And the very first recipe I turned to when I sat back down at the table with my baked apple? Why, one for baked apples, of course. As food experiences go, it was bordering on the profound.

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My version of baked apples was conceived as an attempt to make a “healthy” alternative to the apple pie my father bakes on special occasions, something suitable for more regular consumption. I skip the pastry crust and leave the apples whole, coring them and stuffing with a spiced blend of almonds and walnuts. For those of you used to seeing apples spiced with cinnamon, the choice of cloves may seem a little odd. It’s taken straight from the recipe Dad uses, out of his classic 1970’s era copy of Cookery the Australian Way, and should be tried at least once. If you aren’t sold, you can go back to cinnamon. But I bet you won’t want to go back.

P.S. Ripe so far looks absolutely amazing and I am just itching to try some of the recipes. Perhaps this weekend I’ll buy another bagful of apples to experiment with.

Nut stuffed baked apples
makes 8 apples

Ingredients
8 Granny Smith or other tart cooking apples
3 tbsp coconut oil (for a vegan version) or butter
1/2 c. raw almonds
1/4 c. walnuts
1/4 tsp. cloves

Method

1. Using a small paring knife, cut a cone out of the top of each apple, then cut out the core and seeds, leaving a small hole all the way through:

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2. Start oven pre-heating to 400F. Place 1/4 c. almonds in a food processor fitted with the S-blade. Process to a fine meal, then add the remaining 1/4 c. almonds and 1/4 c. walnuts. Pulse 4-5 times, coarsely chopping the just added nuts.

3. In a small, microwave safe bowl, microwave the coconut oil/butter for 20-40 seconds, until melted. Stir in the cloves. Add the nuts to the oil/butter and clove mixture, and stir until evenly incorporated.

4. Arrange the apples in a baking dish. You can also place each apple in a muffin tin, or get fancy and use individual little ramekins. Spoon the nut mixture into the hollowed out cores of the apples.

5. Bake for 20-40 minutes, depending on the size of the apples and the desired level of softness. We generally like them super soft and will bake for around 35 minutes, but I’ve had large apples need a little longer. Remove apples from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

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