Photo by Laura Chase de Formigny and food styling by Lisa Cherkasky; for The Washington Post
This new spin on the homey, old-fashioned dessert has much less added sugar than the traditional version, with just a little maple syrup drizzled on top, and a walnut filling sweetened with finely chopped dates. The dried fruit melds in seamlessly with cooking so you don’t even realize it’s there — you just get its sweet essence punctuated with the aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
Storage Notes: Leftover baked apples can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
1/2 cup (2 ounces) walnut pieces
4 large cooking apples (about 2 pounds total), such as Rome, Cortland, Gala or Braeburn
3 tablespoons finely chopped pitted dates
4 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pinch kosher salt
1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice
Position a baking rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
Place the walnuts on a small, rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant and slightly darkened, about 5 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a cutting board, let cool, then finely chop.
Core the apples, leaving their bottoms intact. (Use a melon baller to scoop out the core, but not all the way through.) Place the apples upright into a rimmed baking dish just wide enough for the apples to snugly fit, such as an 8-inch square baking pan.
In a medium bowl, combine the walnuts, dates, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the apple juice with the remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup. Stuff the center of each apple with the walnut-date mixture, then pour the apple juice around the apples. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the apples are tender.
Serve hot or cold, drizzled with the pan juices.
Makes 4 servings
Serving size: 1 apple
Per serving: Calories 292; Total Fat 9g; (Sat Fat 1g); Protein 3g; Carb 52g; Fiber 7g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 41mg; Total Sugar 41g