Winesap, Macintosh, Granny Smith, Empire, Red Delicious—shades of red, yellow and green apples fill crates, bins and buckets in every nook and corner of the farmers market. Whether you like them tart and crisp, or sweet and soft, you have plenty to choose from. I am pretty sure apples come in more varieties than any other fruit or vegetable.
We’ve been told our whole lives, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and offered our teachers tokens of this delectable fruit to show gratitude. This “forbidden fruit” has proved itself magical, tempting and tantalizing in literature, history and the lives of so many people. Apple Pie has become a symbol for American patriotism and we call our loved ones the “Apple of my eye.”
Whether you spend a day in the orchard, or gathering at the market, the challenge is always what to do with the many pounds of this sacred fruit once you bring them home. Of course it’s always fun to run them through a food mill and make homemade applesauce, but I worry I’ll go through them too fast—even 50 pounds of them!
You can slice them thin and enjoy them with a sharp cheese like a Spanish Manchego or Vermont Cheddar (my favorite), dip them in a dollop of creamy peanut or almond butter (my second favorite) or slather them in some warm dulce de leche (my kid’s favorite). But you can also bake them in a gazillion different ways. My favorites, which always include cinnamon and sometimes nutmeg, cloves or cardamom, are: apple upside down cake, apple bread, caramelized apple muffins, apple empanadas, apple bundt cake, apple pie filling, applesauce pancakes, apple fritters, apple chips and apple ebelskivers. And of course, since it’s Halloween time, you could also bob for apples. What are your favorite ways to use apples?
Here’s one of my new favorites—Caramelized Apple Muffins:
Caramelized Apple Muffins
Makes 36 Mini Muffins
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 cups apples, peeled and diced
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 stick butter, softened
- ½ cup white sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup apple sauce
- 1 ½ cups unbleached white flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a mini muffin tin with baking spray.
In a skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter and sauté the apples, teaspoon of cinnamon and two teaspoons sugar. Cook on a low heat for about ten minutes and then remove from heat. Next, beat the butter, white sugar and brown sugar until creamy. Add the applesauce, vanilla and eggs. Beat again. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and add to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix in the buttermilk until the batter is smooth.
Place a teaspoon full of apples in the bottom of each mini muffin tin and add a spoonful of batter to cover the apples. Cook for 15 minutes until cooked through and carefully invert the muffin tin onto a cooking rack. Dust with powdered sugar and eat warm.