Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Cardamom Baked Apples—an easy dessert

Cardamom Baked Apples—an easy dessert

The aroma of apples is always tantalizing, but apples baking in an oven even more so.  Especially on a frosty winter’s day!  Somehow, they just smell so homey!  More so when they’re scented with cardamom and a little brown sugar.
Every fall, husband person compares the price of every apple in every grocery store, and then buys as many as he can.  He prefers them out of hand, but today he spoke these remarkable words: “Hmmm, I think I bought too many.”

Sure enough, there was no room in the fridge for his latest acquisitions.  I’m not a huge fan of the raw apple myself, but oh the story changes when they are cooked.  Sweet, soft, succulent, almost like a pudding they are, so much nicer - I think - than the crisp, tart raw apples.  The ease of this dessert attracts me mightily as well.
Depending on their variety, some apples hold their shape better than others.  Macintoshes are known to collapse when baking, but I’m not bothered by a collapsed baked apple, myself.  I also don’t worry if they are somewhat marred before I cook them. 

The apples I used this time were Spartans, which hold their shape. While they were not bruised, they weren’t perfect either.  They had the odd skin tear.  If your apples are old, bruised or withered, I’d recommend using them for apple sauce instead.  Baked apples are best with whole, unbruised relatively fresh babies. 
2 green cardamoms
¼ cup walnuts
3 generous tablespoons powdered jaggery, or brown sugar, or raw sugar crystals
10 to 15 grates fresh black pepper
4 apples

I used these sugar crystals this time.
Optional toppings include:
plain yogurt
whipped cream

First, smash the cardamoms and remove their husks.  Use a mortar and pestle to grind the cardamom seeds to powder.  Add the walnuts to the mortar, and smash and grind them as well, till the pieces are broken smaller, but not necessarily ground up.  Add the pepper and your choice of sugar and mix.

Core the apples.  I don’t own an actual apple core machine.  I simply use a knife to cut a deep column at one end, and then the other, then push the core out.  I peek in the crater, and if more has to come out, I scrape out what needs to go. 
Place the cored apples in a baking dish and fill with the sugar mixture.  Most should go into the crater, but some should also spill out.
If I were already baking something in the oven, I’d slide the dish of apples in with that, and give them about forty-five minutes to an hour at 350F.  That would be ideal, as the sugars would have time to caramelise and turn a rich brown and be gooey.  But I couldn’t justify the electricity usage for a few apples for an hour, so I slipped them into the microwave on high. 

I timed them at about two minutes per apple, with a little bit extra.  The goal is to make sure the sugars have melted and turned into syrup and the apples are soft.  Check on them and if the syrup is gooey and the apples are soft, you’re set to go.  They are best warm, but cold is fabulous too.
Beautiful granddaughter had ice-cream with hers, with the gorgeous syrup lavished over the ice-cream.  I had plain yogurt, with the syrup gracing that.  These taste decadent, but truly they are an easy, aromatic and healthy treat.  If you are still celebrating, I wish you a Happy Diwali. If you’re finished already, I send my belated best wishes!

Cardamom Baked Apples-- so fabulous!


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