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Apples: A Love Story

Three easy apple desserts celebrate the changing seasons and capture the flavors of fall.

The T is packed with students, Sundays can be celebrated with copious amounts of football, and ads for apple picking are popping up everywhere.

Whether we like it or not fall has arrived. But what better way to embrace the arrival of fall than by making some of the desserts that make this time of year worth looking forward to.

Here are three simple, apple-centric desserts that will get anyone excited about the change of the seasons. But first lets talk apples. Most grocery stores have a variety of apples to choose from, but which ones will hold up in the oven?

It’s important to select an apple that can stand the intense heat from the oven and won’t get mushy or fall apart. The apples that pass the test are the ones that are high in minerals, such as Baldwin, Northern Spy, Rome, Granny Smiths, Fuji, and Braeburns.

This first recipe is simple to make and can be easily customized to suit anyone’s taste.

The Naked Baked Apple

3 large apples

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice

½ c water

Filling:

4 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp rolled oats

Pinch of cinnamon

1 tbsp butter

Optional add-ins:

Chopped walnuts or pecans

Raisins or dried cranberries

Orange zest

Preheat the oven to 350.

First peel and core the apples. To core the apples place the apples on a cutting board and using knife cut into the top of the apple around the stem. Next use a spoon to loosen and dig out the core of the apple. Use the knife again to cut the remainder of the core out.

Combine 1 tsp of cinnamon and ½ tsp of pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl. Rub the spice mix over the outside of the apple, covering it completely. A quick note on spices; pumpkin pie spices or apple pie spices are a mixture of spices you can find in most grocery stores. This already has several different spices mixed together and saves you from having to buy several spices if you don’t already have them in your kitchen. If you opt not to use the pre-mixed spices instead add a dash or two of allspice, nutmeg, ground cloves, and ginger to the cinnamon.

Place the spice-rubbed apples in a round cake pan. In a small bowl mix together the brown sugar, oats, and a pinch of cinnamon. This is where the recipe can become your own, because the filling can be what you want it to be. If you have an orange handy I recommend adding a tiny bit of orange zest. Dried fruit such as raisins or cranberries or nuts also can be a good addition to this filling.

Using a spoon carefully fill the apples with the filling, packing it in if necessary. Cut up 1 tablespoon of butter and place on top of the filling. Add ½ cup of water to the pan so the apples are standing in the water. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 45-50 minutes.

This next recipe builds on the recipe above and yields an individual apple pie. For this recipe you can either make your favorite pie dough recipe from scratch, or you can use a pre-made pie dough from the store.

Apple Dumplings

3 large apples

1 batch of pie dough

Filling:

4 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp rolled oats

Pinch of cinnamon

1 tbsp butter

Optional add-ins:

Chopped walnuts or pecans

Raisins or dried cranberries

Orange zest

Peel and core the apples and set aside. In a small bowl prepare the filling. Next roll out the pie dough and cut into 5 inch squares. Place apples in the center of each square of dough and spoon the filling into the center of the apples. Cut up 1 tbsp of butter and place on top of the filling.

Bring the edges of the pastry up around the apple to create a dumpling. Use warm water to seal the edges if needed. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Bake in a lightly greased cake pan at 350 for 45-50 minutes. Apples should be tender and the crust should be a light golden brown.

Last but not least, a crowd-pleasing apple crisp.

Peanut Butter Apple Crisp:

½ c unsalted butter, room temperature

½ c peanut butter

½ c raw rolled oats

½ c all purpose flour

1 ½ c brown sugar

½ tsp salt

6-8 large apples

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp Pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice

½ tsp

1 tsp lemon juice

1/3 c water (reduce amount to ¼ c or 4 tbsp if working with particularly juicy apples)

Preheat the oven to 350. In a medium bowl use a fork to combine the butter, peanut butter, oats, flour, brown sugar, and salt and set aside.

Peel, core, and cut apples into bite-sized pieces and place into a large bowl. Sprinkle the apples with the cinnamon and spice mixture and toss to coat the apples evenly in the spices. Place the spiced apples in a generously greased 9 x 13 baking pan.

Sprinkle the apples with the lemon juice and water. Next, evenly distribute the brown sugar topping over the apples. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

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