I love making baked apples because they are deliciously easy, and I always have the ingredients.  And this Valentine’s Day, when you want to spend time where your heart takes you, baked apples hit home better than Cupid’s bow or a box of chocolates.

You can use a variety of ingredients depending on what you have or get creative with inspiration.  Baked apples are will come through for you every time.  Kinda what you want in that special person.

But behind the sweet warning aroma that will fill you home, hidden in every bite, baked apples are a dessert that is good for your sweet heart.

Ingredients

The key ingredient is an apples—of course, but pears would be equally delicious. Both fruits have soluble fiber, which can help lower cholesterol.

I’ve read that gala and fugi are the best bakers for tenderness and maintaining un-split skins.  But when I used the gala, the skins did spit.  It didn’t affect the scrumptious flavor. My philosophy is that the best apple is the one you have.

Oatmeal makes the baked apple like an inside-out apple crisp.  The beta glucans, a specific form of soluble fiber in the oats, may help lower cholesterol.

Chunky, crumbled or ground, walnuts add a nutty texture to their heart benefits.  Eating nuts can help you get to the right weight—also important in lowering your risk of heart disease.

Soft, chewy dates deliver the sweetness. Unlike Mardi Gras’ king cake where biting the baby is fun, you’ll want to remove the pits.  Alternatively, figs or other dried fruit are like candy morsels.  But these candy-bites are naturally sweet, nutrient dense and a source of soluble fiber.

I did a touch of brown sugar, but you don’t have to.  For my taste, it elevated the natural sweetness and helped connect the other flavors when it melted.

For fun, I added chia seeds.  Undetectable in the recipe, they added soluble fiber and alph-linolenic fatty acids—the plant-based source of omega 3s.   To get this essential fat, you could also added flax seed.

When it comes to the spicing, think apple pie.  Cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice and clove. You can creatively add zest of lemon or orange or fresh or ground ginger.

I have to admit, I once grabbed cumin instead of cinnamon.  Before I realized my mistake, the powder was added.  Even with the attempted remediation of adding cinnamon, it was different, but very tasty!

This all gets mixed and stuffed into a hollow carved out where the stem and seeds were.  My video shows how easy it is to hollow an apple.  Simply carve a circle around the stem using a paring knife held at a 45o angle.  After removing the stem, use small melon baller to scoop out the seeds.  Be careful to create a well and o go through the bottom.

I topped the apple with a dot of margarine before filling the baking pan with about ½ to ¾ inch of water.

It takes abut 7 minutes to make and 30-40 minutes to bake at 350o Fahrenheit.