I certainly have baked a lot of fruit in my time, looking back on it.
The Baked Apples:
Over the weekend I got a call from Forager-in-Chief. He was in the supermarket and for some reason it was like he was in an apple orchard, so abundant was the supply. “What should I get?” “Let me call you back. This will only take a minute.”
From the pile of recipes built up over 30+ years (I’ve been foraging myself to keep up with my FYCE quota) I pulled out Dan Rowan’s recipe for Baked Apples Cointreau. It’s been a while since I’ve made these. This is not even from the Sinatra Celebrity Cookbook; I have long had a slight obsession with celebrity recipes. Dan Rowan was the Rowan in Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. This is very easy.
Cut the tops off 4 Red Golden Delicious Apples. Core but do not peel them. Make a mixture of “a handful” of raisins, the grated jest of one small orange [Dan says 1 tsp. but this is what I do], the grated jest of one small lemon [my addition], a little orange juice, and a couple of shakes from the cinnamon in your spice rack.
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Put the apples in a muffin tin, they should fit in the cups of one that’s made for six. If the tin is not non-stick you can spray it if you want but I don’t.
* If your apples won’t fit in the muffin tin, stand them up in a baking dish filled with maybe 1/4” or less of water. Dan doesn’t mention this method but I’ve resorted to it.
Fill each apple with the mixture and bake for about 25 or 30 minutes (for me) “until the skin begins to break.” More importantly, you want the apples to be creamy, so you can test this with a fork.
Remove from the oven. Now, and this is completely optional, spoon a very little Cointreau over each one. You can serve like that or, best of all, Dan says to add the Cointreau and “ignite to flame.” Yes, this is another flambéed recipe and of course I must. Put them in a frying pan or a skillet. The flames should go out pretty quickly. Maybe have a home fire extinguisher handy I suppose but I’ve not had to resort to one, not yet anyway. This also doesn’t create enough smoke to set off a fire alarm, at least not ours.
Let them cool for a little bit and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
The Baked Apricots:
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9″ round baking dish (I cheated and used an 8 X 8). Sprinkle in 3 tbsp. brown sugar and 3 tbsp. chopped peanuts. Arrange the contents of a 16-oz. can (! But this is a Julia Child recipe!) of drained apricot halves around the outside. JC is vague about this but I put them cut side up. In the middle, add 1 peeled and sliced banana. Grate the rind of a 1 large lemon over the fuit and then squeeze it’s juice all over. Next, pour over 1/4 cup bourbon. Surprisingly, and this is again going off-script, you don’t do this because you’re going to flambé the fruit. Sprinkle on another 3 tbsp. of brown sugar and another 3 tbsp. of chopped peanuts. “Dot” this as best you can with about 1 tbsp of butter. Put in the top third of the oven for 50–60 minutes (mine took more like 45) until the sugar is lightly browned (but the sugar is already brown? You’ll see, it changes color) and the liquid is reduced to a syrup.