No fruit or vegetable appears more often in Little Women than apples. They’re Jo’s go-to reading snack, and the final chapter is even set in the Bhaers’ apple orchard. In honor of Jo’s apples, I decided to make my own interpretation of baked apples, which pairs well with our turkey roulade and has enough sweet-savory balance to work as a side dish or dessert. Plus, it’s got those cozy, subtle spice flavors that fit so well in a Christmas menu!
P.S. The recipe listed below uses my own set of ingredients combined with some basic preparation instructions from Taste of Home. When making your own baked apples, you can stick to the ingredients list provided or get creative! You can replace the cranberries with almost any small, dried fruit (raisins, cherries, chopped apricots, etc.). Most varieties of chopped nuts will work, and you can trade cinnamon for nutmeg, allspice, or apple pie spice. Apple juice, molasses, and even orange juice can be a good stand-in for cider. The possibilities are endless!
“Meg found her sister eating apples and crying over the Heir of Redclyffe, wrapped up in a comforter on an old three-legged sofa by the sunny window. This was Jo’s favorite refuge, and here she loved to retire with half a dozen russets and a nice book, to enjoy the quiet and the society of a pet rat who lived near by and didn’t mind her a particle.”
— Little Women
- 4 Gala apples
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 4 tbsp toasted pecans, chopped
- 4 tbsp rolled oats
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, plus 3 tbsp for sprinkling
- approx. 1/2 cup apple cider
Makes 4 apples
- Preheat your oven to 400°. Line a high-walled glass baking pan with tinfoil and set aside.
- Core your apples almost all the way down to the bottom (leave about a 1/2 inch). Use a paring knife to widen out the top a little.
- In a small bowl, stir together your cranberries, pecans, oats, cinnamon, and 1/4 cup brown sugar with a fork until well combined. Place your apples into the foil-lined baking dish and fill each of them with the cranberry mix.
- Pour your cider into a small bowl, and drizzle spoonfuls of it over the filling and sides of the apple (about 6 spoonfuls/apple—3 for the filling, 3 for the sides). You’ll want to drizzle the cider slowly over the filling to give it a chance to soak in. Sprinkle a little extra brown sugar over the top of each apple.
- Place your pan in the oven and bake the apples for 20-25 minutes. At the 10 minute mark, sprinkle each apple with a few more pinches of brown sugar and spoon your remaining cider over the sides and centers of the apples. Pay special attention to any areas of exposed apple flesh near the top, since these are more prone to drying out. Continue to bake until the apples are soft and the filling is warm.
- Serve warm while drafting a brilliant novel! 🙂