Friday, August 24, 2012

Competition Finalist #2


Apple of my Eye

Hi!  I’m Becky.  I live in the midwest with my husband and yorkie, Sophie.  I love to cook, bake and do crafts, so Pinterest has  a wealth of ideas for me to try.  Sometimes they come out great, other times we end up ordering pizza.

Fall is my favorite season.  I waste my entire summer waiting for the cooler temperatures, fall leaves, and pumpkin picking.  It’s also the only season where it’s socially acceptable to have my entire house smell like apples and cinnamon.  Almost all of my favorite desserts involve some sort of apples and cinnamon combo, so I tested out the baked apples pin from http://skinnychef.com/recipes/baked-apples.  If it worked out well, it would be a healthy, delicious treat that I could make easily, and it would make my house smell like fall.  An added bonus: I already had all of the ingredients except for the apples and apple juice, so it was a relatively inexpensive test and I wouldn’t be out too much if it failed miserably (as many of my experiments do).

I started out by getting out all of my ingredients.  The recipe calls for Gala or Macintosh apples.  I chose Gala.  I left out the optional orange liquor.

I had forgotten how hard it is to core apples.  Maybe I just don’t have very much upper body strength, but I had to really push to get my corer through.   The worst part was that once I got the core out of the apple, it would get stuck in the corer and I would have to pry it out with a spoon.  Someone should invent an apple corer-clearer outer.  On the up side, Sophie created a new doggy game called “how much apple can I eat off the floor before the woman can clean it up?” so at least the floor was clean.
 
Once I got the apples cored, it was time to fill them.  After figuring out that the best way to get the filling in was with my ½ teaspoon measuring spoon, it was pretty smooth.  If you have a baby spoon in the house, I bet that would work too.  I don’t know if my apple corer makes exceptionally large holes, but I definitely did not have enough filling from following the recipe.  The original amount of filling only got me through four apples.  I did some quick math and make a half batch of filling to finish out the other two apples.  Brain to the rescue!
 
I put them in the crockpot for 2.5 hours (the conservative end of what the recipe calls for) and crossed my fingers.

Two and a half hours later, my house smelled amazing.  Win!  Then I looked at the apples…and they looked nothing like I expected.  They were dark, shriveled, and barely had any filling left. 

They tasted ok, but kind of bland.  And I like things bland.  We’re talking plain pasta, no dressing on salad, no syrup on pancakes.  But these were too bland for me.

I did get some amazing smelling liquid out of the crockpot, which I’ve pictured below.  I’m not going to lie, I tasted it.  It was greasy, but tasted amazing.  I spooned some of it over the apples, and it made them taste much better.

I would probably classify this as a level 2 on the GCT Fail Scale.  It was ok- they’re edible.  But it’s definitely not as delicious as the description made it sound, and the picture on the pin is definitely of the apples pre-baking when they still look pretty.  I think the biggest problem was that when the butter and brown sugar melted, they just seeped out of the bottom of the apples.  If there was some way to keep the filling in while it was cooking, I think it would soak into the apples more and all of that flavor that ended up in the apple juice would be in the apples instead. 

I saw people commenting on the original pin that they were considering using oatmeal instead of walnuts.  I wanted to follow the pin exactly, but I wonder if oatmeal would hold the filling together better.  The walnuts might not have been able to hold it in the apple.  If I try this again, I might go that route and see what happens.  

17 comments:

  1. Hi Becky- I have an awesome apple corer that came with a center rod (?) that pushes the core out of the corer. I just looked and it's made by a company called Progressive. They actually sell it on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Progressive-International-Apple-Corer/dp/B000S11KNW. Maybe that will help?

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  2. You need to core the apple with a knife then scoop with a spoon, not a reg apple core tool, and do NOT go through the bottom, just leave 1/2 inch of the bootm intact. Stuffign will stay inside, we made these as kids all the time.

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  3. If you don't core them all the way through, it helps hold in the filling.

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  4. Hello, baked filled apples are one of my favourites desserts. When you core the apple you leave a bottom part (lets say about 1/2 inch) intact - I use the knife to get the pitts out,then I use a teaspoon to scrap the rest of the apple. With the knife I also score the peel (around the belt) to prevent it from bursting, but it is not necessary. For the filling I mix ground walnuts, pinch of cinnamon and few Tbs of honey - just enough to get thick paste. You can add butter now or brush it over the apples. Sometimes I add some jam, raisins, dry fruit,... I bake in the oven at 350F for 20-30 minutes. You can serve plain or pour over vanilla sauce, add some whipped cream, ice cream,...

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  5. Use a Melon Baller to get out the core!
    I also had one of those crappy apple corers and I got my finger stuck in it trying to un-wedge the core, my husband laughed hysterically as he got the pliers and released me. I was so mad I threw it away and then I saw Alton Brown using a melon baller to core his apples...brilliant! and you won't dig through the bottom!

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  6. I recently made a recipe that was labeled as "perfect" by a very, very popular blogger/cook/tv personality. I had high hopes as I've made some of her recipes before and they have indeed been perfect, or darn near close.

    This was not even close to perfect. It cooked up just fine, but the taste? Ick. It made both my daughter and myself sick. Taste is every subjective, but I can see where your apples would be bland-o-rama. I hate it when that happens!!!

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  7. You need to use a bakeable apple. Some aren't meant to be baked.

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  8. My grandmother taught me to make something like this, except the apples are wrapped in foil and baked in the oven in a pan. Oh, and no cider or apple juice. Just core the apples most of the way down and stuff with brown sugar butter and cinnamon. You can add raisins, nuts, nutmeg, maple extract, vanilla, clove or whatever to taste. The juices from the baking apples make plenty of moisture so you really don't want any wet ingredients other than some extract. If you like tarter apples use granny smith, I think they come out the best and not bland. Fabulous warm with ice cream!

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  9. My dad has been making apples like this for as long as I can remember (and probably long before that...) He doesn't core out the bottom of the apple. Use a knife and small spoon to scoop out the core/seeds, but leave the bottom intact. The stuffing doesn't fall out! They stay delicious. You do have to remember that the very bottom is probably not very edible, but that's ok. They're still super tasty.

    He uses butter, brown sugar and pecans as his filling.

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  10. This is really easy to do for one, I do it all the time. Don't core the apple all the way through. Use a knife and a spoon to cut just over three fourths of the core out (make sure to scoop out all the seeds. Then put about a teaspoon of butter, a teaspoon of cinnamon and then fill her up with brown sugar. Put the apple in a bowl in the microwave and heat on high for about 1 1/2 minutes, or till the brown sugar starts melting. Absolutely delish!

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  11. We did something similar to this at the bakery that I worked at, except that we wrapped it in pie dough and just had a cinnamon/sugar filling and we baked it. Topped it with a caramel sauce. And ice cream. Naturally. [Also used a firmer apple that bakes well, such as a granny smith.]

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  12. I have nothing to say about the recipe, beyond that it probably smells heavenly, but I wanted to say that I love that you like your pasta and pancakes plain. I do, too! Pasta without sauce is pure joy to me, as is grabbing a plain pancake and walking around the house eating it out of my hand. The very best. lol

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  13. Use the apple corer that has a plunger-type thing to get the core out of the corer: www.pamperedchef.biz/tammykasten ;-)

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  14. Baking apples are definitely going to hold up better, plus using margarine might not have created the caramelized affect, butter is better.

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  15. As far as leaving the bottom part of the apple when coring, I've tried this and it is about impossible... what I did was use my Pampered Chef corer all the way through, cut off a half inch of the extracted core... and plugged it back into the apple bottom... much easier... you may have a little leakage... but not as much as w/ the core completely out.

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  16. Well, maybe I'm crazy, but when I looked at the source recipe I could only see one photo and it was most definitely the "before" photo- so I'm not sure how the apples shriveling was outside of your expectations! No matter what kind of apples I've used for cooking, they brown, soften and shrink at least a little bit- regardless of how much of the core is left in! Isn't a slow cooker usually meant for recipes where we want to break foods down?

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  17. You know the way I like to make baked apples best? Preheat the oven to about 350*F. Chop up the apple into slices (I like to peel them myself because I'm not a skin fan). Mix up about a tablespoon of white sugar, a tablespoon of brown sugar, and 1/8 of a teaspoon of cinnamon (or to taste) per apple. Shake over slices until everything's nicely coated.

    Slather whatever baking dish you want to use with a glob of butter. I use an 8 x 8 square Pyrex cake pan. Toss in the apple slices, mix it around a little bit, and toss into the oven for about 10 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally.

    I tend to just eat them plain, but I think they'd be great over ice cream. They kind of taste like hot pie filling.

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