Baked Apples
Mele al Forno alla Meranese

serves: 6 servings

Baked apples are a favorite treat and comfort food in Trentino-Alto Adige as they are here. This recipe emphasizes the treat aspect, since the apples are draped with melted chocolate, chopped walnuts, and Amarena cherries. Many apple varieties are good bakers, including Cameo, Cortland, Empire, Jonagold, Northern Spy, and Rome. Granny Smith and Golden Delicious are always reliable, too.

ingredients
6 large firm baking apples
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
6 cinnamon sticks
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
⅓ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
¾ cup Amarena cherries in syrup, drained

directions


Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Core the apples, and put them in a baking dish. Drop 1/2 teaspoon butter, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and a cinnamon stick in the center hollow of each apple. Pour 1/2 cup hot water in the bottom of the dish, and cover the dish with a sheet of aluminum foil. Put the dish in the oven and bake for 35 minutes, until the apples have softened and released their juices. Remove the foil, and bake the apples another 10 minutes or so, to brown their tops. Remove from the oven, and let cool briefly. Pour the juices from the baking dish into a small saucepan, heat to a boil, and cook until syrupy.

Meanwhile, put the chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water. Stir occasionally as the chocolate begins to melt, and continue to stir until completely smooth. Turn off the heat, stir in the salt, and keep the sauce warm.

To serve: Arrange each apple on a dessert plate and drizzle over it some of the thickened apple juice. Spoon chocolate sauce on top, letting it drip down the sides. Sprinkle walnuts on each apple, surround it with a few cherries, and serve immediately.