Baked apples are underappreciated. Seriously, when was the last time you saw one on a menu? On a blog? Okay, so everything is on a blog somewhere… But have you ever been served on at a dinner party or birthday party? They are fairly easy to forget about, but infinitely versatile. The type of apple, the sweeter, and the toppings offer plenty of variety for an adventurous eater, while the more timid can take comfort in the basic baked apple. My most recent adventure is downright delicious, and just a touch decadent. The automatic portion size is also handy.

Maple Pecan Crusted Apple

I typically bake apples when I’m making something else, and just keep an eye on them. At lower temperatures, they’ll need close to 40 minutes, while they might be ready in 20 minutes at 400 F. You can microwave them, but be sure to stab them with a fork before heating so they don’t explode.

1 medium apple
Pinch of any or all: cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves
2 T raisins
2 T chopped raw pecans
1 T maple syrup (real, preferably grade B)

Peel one circle around the middle of the apple, and a little off the top of the apple. Remove the core. I typically cut deep circles into the apple from top and bottom with a paring knife, and then use the handle of a butter knife or spoon to punch the core out. Place the apple in a small baking dish or oven-safe bowl. Mix together the spices and roll the apple in them. Mix any remaining spices with the raisins, and add about 1/3 of the pecans. Stuff that mixture into the center of the apple. Pour the maple syrup over the apple, and top with the remaining pecans. Bake until soft. Spoon the syrup/juice blend over the apple before serving.