Last month I decided to say no to refined sugar for the time being, just to give my belly a break. I LOVE sweet treats and tend to go a little overboard when surrounded by tempting sugary concoctions. In years past, I've taken white sugar out of my kitchen for long stretches of times (for years, in fact) and I'm amazed at how much better I feel when I do.
Deprivation is not an option for me, so I get a lot of joy from playing with alternative sugars and whipping up natural sweets. Honey, coconut and date sugars are always wonderful, and a jar of maple cream, recently to given to me by my awesome neighbors Rich and Caitlin, begged to be put to good use. I like to think of maple cream as nature's caramel! These baked apples, sweetened with the maple cream, satisfy my sweet-tooth while keeping my belly happy. I hope they warm your bellies too.
You can serve the apples as dessert of course, or you could eat them on top of a bowl of oatmeal for
- 6 apples: pink ladies and honey crisps are wonderful here
- 1/2 cup crushed toasted hazelnuts (toasted pecans or walnuts are also great)
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- zest of 2 small lemons
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced into 6 pats
- maldon flaky sea salt
- for topping: maple cream, creme fraiche ( for making your own creme fraiche, try this easy recipe), heavy cream
Preheat oven to 375.
Peel the upper 5th of your apple. Use a pairing knife to cut out the core - you want to cut a wider opening at the top, tapering down to the bottom of the apple. Place cored apples onto a baking dish or cookie sheet. If one of your apples won't sit up straight, slice a tiny bit off the bottom to give it a steady base.
Stuff apples with crushed hazelnuts. In a little cup or bowl, combine maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon zest. Scoop a spoonful or two of this tasty liquid over each hazelnut-stuffed apple. Place a pat of butter onto the top of each apple. Sprinkle on some flaky salt.
While the apples are baking, scoop creme fraiche into a little pitcher. Use a fork to whisk in just enough heavy cream make the creme fraiche a pourable consistency.
Serve apples warm with a pitcher of runny creme fraiche and a ramekin of maple butter (amazing stuff!) or another pitcher of maple syrup to scoop over the baked apples.