Note: I had posted this recipe earlier. Several readers asked that I re-post it with a picture which shows the actual dessert in all its majesty. I have included general, rule-of-thumb sort of measurements because there is nothing to measure in this recipe–just peel, dig a hole, mix, and stuff. Then prepare the syrup, bake, and consume. That’s it!
The apples: The secret, as always, is good basic ingredients. So, make sure your apples are healthy, with a dark red peel and round and a little plump rather than the more elongated kind. Wash. Peel circularly, but make sure you have a nice band of peel to hold the apple together when it cooks. Push fork into three or four places in the apple. Make a tunnel in the center of the apple and get rid of the seeds. Make sure you don’t dig to the bottom of the apple.
The filling: Mix crushed walnuts, brown or white sugar, currants (or raisins; currants are less sweet), cinnamon. Make sure the walnuts are not cut too small or pulverized. For 8 apples, you should use about half to three quarter cup of the mixture.
The syrup: Mix some sugar and water in ratio of one to one. Add a couple teaspoons of amaretto or cointreau or sherry. Bring to boil and continue boiling until the ingredients are completely mixed, for about 15 minutes, uncovered.
Oven should be on 375. Stuff the apples with the filling; press so you get a tight fit. Put a small piece of butter on each apple. Put the apples in a baking dish whose sides are a bit high. With a spoon, gently pour the syrup mixture slowly into the baking pan. You want enough to cover the bottom of your pan, 1 inch or so; allow for some evaporation and thickening of the mixture. Place the baking pan with the apples in the middle of the oven. Check from time to time; with a spoon baste the apples with the syrup. If the syrup is caramelizing, add some water. Cook until the apples feel soft when you insert a fork, for about an hour. Make sure you do not overcook. The flesh should be well contained within the peel circle. After they are baked, you can sprinkle grated orange peel for color and more drama.
Serve warm or cold, alone (as I do) or with vanilla ice cream (from the world-renowned Rancatore’s, in Belmont, MA.—which has the mother of all vanilla ice creams. No kidding, nothing like it on this side of the pond.)