Apples are in season and we've been serving them in everything from salads and cereal to pies, galettes and even butter. Recently, while looking for new apple recipes, we stumbled upon several that featured them in Hasselback style and, inspired, we created Cranberry Pecan Hasselback Baked Apples.
The term Hasselback originated in Sweden in the 1700s at the Hasselbacken Inn, which became famous for its uniquely sliced potato dish now known as Hasselback potatoes. In modern times, this term has evolved beyond potatoes to connote dishes that feature this preparation technique and can include sweet potatoes, zucchini, rutabaga and even tomatoes to make an accordion-style Caprese salad.
When choosing an apple for this dish, we stayed away from varieties like Golden Delicious and Fuji, which are too soft and will fall apart as they bake. Instead, we looked for crisp, tart varieties like Pink Lady and Honeycrisp, a local variety with a relatively short fall season. We chose Honeycrisp for this occasion, which stood up well during baking and had great flavor.
To get started, wash the apple thoroughly and then use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove all of the outer peel. Next, cut each apple in half, vertically, and use a sharp knife to remove the core; you could also use an apple corer before cutting in half.
Once the apples have been prepared, it's time to make the signature Hasselback slices. Start at one end of the apple and slice vertically across, making cuts about 1/8 to ¼-inch thick. Be careful not to cut all the way through the apple, leaving about a ½-inch uncut at the bottom. This allows the top part of the apple to become crispy and caramelized as it bakes, while the bottom, uncut portion remains tender.
Once the apples have been sliced in Hasselback fashion, place them in a baking dish, face down. Prepare a mixture of melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon according to the recipe directions, and brush generously over the top of each apple half. Cover with tin foil and bake in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes.
Remove the foil and continue to bake, uncovered, for another 7 to 10 minutes, until the apples are fork-tender. Remove and allow the apples to cool. You can prepare the streusel topping as the apples cool, and for this recipe we've added chopped pecans and cranberries to the traditional mix, which gave the apples an extra boost of fall flavors.
The streusel is spooned over the top of each apple before returning them to the oven to bake for another 10 minutes. To finish, broil the apples on high (without removing from the oven) for two minutes. Broiling makes Tony a little nervous, so he kept asking me to remove them early, but two minutes was just the perfect amount of time to get the tops golden brown and crispy. Serve immediately with your favorite ice cream.
If I were entertaining and serving these special apples to guests, I would go one step further and make our Caramel Sauce to garnish the plate. We shared that recipe in our very first column nearly three years ago, and it still remains a favorite. You can find it today on our blog at thelostitalian.areavoices.com.
Friendly reminder: If you're thinking of making vanilla extract for your holiday baking and gift season, now is the perfect time to get a batch started so that it's ready by the beginning of December. Visit our blog for recipe and instructions.
Cranberry Pecan Hasselback Baked Apples
2 Honeycrisp or Pink Lady apples, peeled, cored and cut in half vertically
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1½ tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour (corn starch may be used as an alternative)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square or ceramic baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
To slice the apple, start at one end and cut almost all the way through each apple half, leaving about a half-inch at the bottom intact. Make slices between 1/8 to ¼-inch thick. Place apples halves face down in the baking dish.
In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, butter and cinnamon until well mixed, then brush evenly over each apple.
Cover with tin foil and bake in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil, and continue to bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until apples are tender. Remove pan from oven and cool for 10 minutes.
For the streusel topping: In a medium bowl, use a whisk to combine oats, brown sugar, butter, pecans, cranberries, cinnamon, flour and salt. Carefully fan open the sliced apples and spoon the mixture evenly over each apple.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes; turn broiler to high for 2 minutes to finish. Serve with ice cream and/or caramel sauce.
"Home With the Lost Italian" is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owns Sarello's in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their 10-year-old son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org and their blog at www.thelostitalian.areavoices.com.