David’s Autumnal Dessert…or Breakfast!
How do you like them apples?
NEIL PATRICK HARRIS: Halloween — again, it’s a season, not just one night — isn’t only about frightening things. Sure, that’s one of the reasons I love it so much…it’s scary, but it’s also sweet! And that’s why I asked David to share one of his (and mine, and Gideon and Harper’s) favorite recipes for this time of year: baked apples. Drool.
DAVID BURTKA: Aww, thank you! This dish combines apples and oats, and at the end you cook down the juices and make a caramel sauce. I think I’ve made this for the kids their whole lives. As Gideon was eating it recently, he said, “This is nostalgia.”
Apples are such a big staple of fall cooking. It’s great when you get a crisp apple right off the tree — there’s just nothing like it. This recipe adds baked ginger and cinnamon…toasted pecans…it makes such an amazing aroma in the kitchen as you cook it. All those quintessential fall flavors perk up my nose and make me think, “Ohhhh! Okay! We’re into fall now!”
NPH: Me too. That smell is magical. And I think adding the oats makes it feel like it’s allowed to be a breakfast choice, as opposed to simply a dessert. It’s the Burtka-Harris cheat to allow you to eat this caramel baked apple deliciousness under the guise of a healthy breakfast alternative. You’re welcome.
DB: True, true. But you can eat it for dessert, too! You know, it wasn’t until we got to New York that I started making this dish regularly. New York apples are just…perfect.
NPH: I agree. (New York State tourism board, please contact our reps.)
David Burtka's Pecan-Streusel-Topped Baked Apples
- 6 medium Honeycrisp apples, about 3 lbs. total (preferably with flat bottoms)
- ¼ tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- Kosher salt
- ½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla oat milk
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. old-fashioned rolled oats
- ⅓ cup chopped pecans
- 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- ¾ cup apple cider
Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.
Cut 1/2 inch off the tops of the apples. Use a small spoon to scoop out the flesh of the apples, leaving a 1/4-inch border on all sides of the apples, reserving the flesh. Place the apples into an 11-inch by 7-inch baking dish.
Remove any seeds or skin and finely chop up enough of the apples’ flesh to equal 1 cup and transfer to a medium bowl along with the ginger, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, the oat milk and 3/4 cup oats. Stir to combine. Divide the mixture between the 6 apples.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Continue to cook the butter until it starts to bubble and foam, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking until the foam subsides and brown specks start to appear, about 1 additional minute, stirring constantly. Transfer the browned butter to a medium bowl. Add the pecans, remaining oats, remaining brown sugar, remaining cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt and flour. Stir to combine.
Divide the streusel over the apples. Cut the remaining butter into small cubes and add to the baking dish along with the apple cider. Bake in the oven until the apples are completely tender and the streusel is golden brown, about 45 minutes, basting the apples (but not the streusel) with the sauce and rotating the baking dish every 15 minutes. If the streusel gets golden brown before the apples are tender, cover the apples loosely with a piece of aluminum foil. Remove the baked apples and transfer to a large serving platter and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Pour the apple cider mixture from the baking dish to a small sauté pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a strong simmer and cook until the mixture is reduced slightly and thickened to the consistency of a thin gravy, about 5 minutes. Drizzle the sauce over the apples and serve immediately.
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