Finding a good dessert that isn’t filled with flour, butter, cream and sugar and yet still satisfies the sweet tooth can be pretty tough. For this recipe fresh fruit, dried fruit, fruit juice and fruit preserves come together for an exciting dessert that is healthier than most.
There is something about a baked apple that is comforting. It’s warm, sweet and hearty. This recipe for a baked apple is stuffed with prunes with dried cherries that have been soaked in apricot brandy. A bit of apricot preserves is added to the stuffing for flavor, sweetness and liquid. Orange juice, the reserved cherry-brandy liquid, and more apricot preserves are mixed together in the pan to create a balanced sauce that isn’t too sweet. The result is not only delicious, but eye-catching as well.
I prefer to use Pink Lady or Honeycrisp apples as they have the right sweet-tart balance and hold their shape when baked. Other types of apples can get mushy or mealy when baked. When you core the apple, make sure there is about an inch in diameter. I use a cookie cutter ring to help make the top a perfect circle and then use a paring knife to cut the hole down the core. Most recipes say not to cut all the way through to keep the juices inside, however since this recipe has a prune on the bottom it serves as a stopper will keep the inside juices in place.
To prepare the cherries, place the cherries in a pot with 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Place cherries and liquid into a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of apricot brandy. The brandy gets absorbed into the cherries pretty quickly, so I let the cherries sit for just one minute or two before I strain them and reserve the liquid. If you prefer a stronger brandy flavor you can let the cherries sit longer.
To stuff the apple, place a prune at the bottom, then layer 1/2 teaspoon if the cherries, 1/2 teaspoon of apricot preserves, the second prune and the remaining cherries on top. When you are done with all the apples, place them in an ovenproof pan and add the reserved cherry-brandy liquid, orange juice and remaining preserves and the to the pan. Mix it through and drizzle the liquid on top the apple to fill. Cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven set at 375° for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15-20 minutes until they are tender when pierced with a fork.
Baked Apples with Prunes and Dried Cherries
4 pink lady apples, cored
1/4 cup of dried cherries
1/4 cup of water
2 tablespoons apricot brandy
4 teaspoons apricot preserves
1/2 cup orange juice
Add cherries and water in a pan and heat until water is simmering. Remove from heat pour into bowl and add 2 tablespoons of apricot brandy and swirl through. Let stand 1-2 minutes (longer if you want more of a brandied flavor.) drain cherries, reserve liquid.
Put one prune into each apple and push down to sit at the bottom then layer 1/2 teaspoon cherries (about 7), 1/2 teaspoon apricot preserves, second prune and the rest of cherries (about 5 each)
Add reserved cherry liquid with brandy to pan, the orange juice, and the 2 teaspoons of apricot preserves. Mix the sauce through for the preserves to thin out a bit, then spoon some liquid over each apple. Cover and bake in a preheated oven at 375° for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake 15-20 more minutes until tender when pierced with a fork.