Baked apples are a rocky tradition in my household. For years we made them, but they had a rough track record. Maybe 60% of the time they were bad, really bad. I personally didn't care for them, and I kind of hoped the tradition would die a silent and painless death, leaving us to enjoy hot chocolate and clam chowder and eggs benedict and cherry chocolates and It's A Wonderful Life in peace. Mom even gave away the special apple baking dishes to a thrift store, hoping to seal the sad fate of the apples. Dad and the internet came to the rescue, however, and more apple baking dished magically showed up on our doorstep.
Determined to make them not gross this year, I kind of exerted a little "I have a cooking blog and I know what I'm talking about" attitude, thinking it would be met with some respect. I got none. Anyone who knows my family can imagine what happened next. Six type A personalities descended on the kitchen with yells of "Put a pie crust on it!" "Nobody wants raisins!" "Peel them!" "Ginger? What are you talking about?" It disintegrated into a contest of who could put an ingredient into the mix before someone else stopped them, but boy were the results good. Unfortunately, there was no recipe followed and no measurements made, so this is approximate. Sorry 'bout that.
- Baking apples (we used Rome, but Macintosh work well, too)
- A bowl of melted butter, to coat the apples
- A mixture of cinnamon and sugar, to taste, to coat the apples
- Nuts (we used almonds, but walnuts or pecans would probably be great, too)
- A mixture of equal parts oats, brown sugar, flour, and butter, pulsed a few times in the food processor
- Orange zest and the juice of 1 orange
- A mixture of about 6 parts water to 1 part vanilla (a few tablespoons per individual baking dish, or just enough to coat the bottom of a large baking dish if you're doing them all together)
Sprinkle the oat, sugar, flour mixture over each apple. Sprinkle a little orange zest and orange juice over each one. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the water/vanilla mixture in the bottom of each baker, or just enough to coat the bottom a the large baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.