The line between beauty and crime scene is a bit blurred with these baked apples. They don’t arrive neatly packaged and wrapped in pink ribbon. They are not pretty in a conventional sense. They haven’t been shifted and sauced in preparation for their photo shoot.
But they are beautiful. And raw. Like seeing a cast off upturned umbrella in the rain. Like having peonies as wide as dessert plates start to drop their petals. Or what hair looks like at 4 am. Real. Beautiful.
A glossy dark syrup forms during the baking which lends the apples more complexity. Here they become one part Edgar Allan Poe and one part Catherine Denevue. If black satin became a dessert, this would be it.
They aren’t too sweet, but they’re rich. The apples nestle closely together and get cooked for a while, bathing in their own juices, until these ladies bust their insides. They still manage to retain their rosy hue ever so slightly, but they get transformed into something else entirely. Something a bit more sophisticated. And dark.
The molasses gives these baked apples soul and the red wine adds depth. The resulting fruit isn’t frilly or fancy. Eaten warm, with a dollop of mascarpone, there is nothing like them. This is an everyday dessert that still feels very special.
At this point, you may very well be wondering if some kind of dark Valentine’s Day theme is lurking deep within these little wrinkled lovelies. I’ve never been one for heart-shaped boxes or for things that have been feverishly truffled. I tend to prefer sweets with a little edge. And it just so happens this is a dessert that you can eat with a knife. Which is my kind of wonderful. So what else can I say? I love these warm, dark apples. With every beat of my tell-tale heart.
Baked Molasses Apples
Adapted from Always With Butter
2 tbsp butter, plus greasing
Zest of 1 orange
2 tbsp brown sugar
pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
~1/4 cup whole pecans, very roughly chopped
~1/4 cup molasses
~1/4 cup red wine
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking dish with butter. Core the apples with an apple corer or paring knife; scoop out a little more of the flesh of the apple top (where the stem was) with a melon baller so you will be able to fit the filling inside. Place the apples in your baking dish. In a small bowl, combine 2 tbsp butter and the orange zest, brown sugar, spices, salt, and pecans.
Fill the apples with the butter and brown sugar mixture. Spoon the molasses over the top of the apples. Pour red wine in the bottom of your baking dish until the dish is just covered.
Bake for 45-60 minutes, occasionally spooning the liquid that forms on the bottom of the pan over the apples. The apples are done when they are wrinkly and just start to split their skins.
Makes four baked apples.
-I used pink lady apples here. I think they have a nice sugar/acid balance, though their name alone is enough to lure me.
-Perk up wine drinkers: this is a way to use leftover red wine, should you find yourself with some.
-Always With Butter is a beautiful blog with gorgeous food. If you are in the mood to stare at desserts, you might want to do some peeping at its recipe index.