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The Dessert: Baked Brown Sugar Apples

This is a recipe for all those folks who want something warm and sweet for a holiday dessert, but don’t want to roll the dice with a cake or a pie.</br></br>Dough can be so unforgiving.</br></br>So, if you have a fear of the strange alchemy that makes baked goods fluffy rather than flat, here’s a recipe for baked apples that’s as a simple as it gets. But first, a note on the <em>kind</em> of apple you want to bake:</br></br>Everybody’s gonna tell ya it’s Granny Smith, Rome Beauty or bust, but you haven’t lived until you’ve baked a Honeycrisp – or the new EverCrisp, if you’re lucky enough to find ‘em. These apples bake very well because, as the name suggests, they start out crisper and will retain just the right amount of firmness once cooked. And, with that:</br></br><strong>Ingredients</strong></br></br>12 marshmallows</br>6 apples (Honeycrisp, EverCrisp, or your favorite baking apple)</br>4 cups water, approx.</br>1 cup brown sugar, unpacked</br>2 tbsp. cinnamon</br>2 star anise, whole (optional)</br>Vanilla ice cream</br></br><strong>Method</strong></br></br>Wash your apples, halve them and core them. In this way, we dispense with all the digging around asked for in more difficult recipes.</br></br>Once finished, place the 12 halves skin-side down in a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish or <a title="Roasting Pans" href="http://www.atgstores.com/cooking/cooking-dining/cookware/roasting-pans/" target="_blank">roasting pan</a>. Sprinkle the halves with brown sugar (about a tablespoon each) and cinnamon (about a half a teaspoon each) and let them sit for a minute to let the spices mingle. If available, toss one or two whole star anise into the dish.</br></br>Next, moisten the apples by gently pouring water over them until you have about one-quarter inch in the bottom of the dish. (NOTE: The exact amount will depend on the shape of your baking dish.) Don't worry too much about washing off the spices – you'll baste throughout.</br></br>Preheat your oven to 350ºF. When ready, cover the dish in foil and bake for 30-35 minutes. Every 10 minutes or so, lift the foil and baste the apples with the sugar-water mixture at the bottom of the dish.</br></br>For the last step, remove the foil, baste once more and place a marshmallow in each apple divot. Continue baking uncovered until the marshmallows melt and get golden brown on top.</br></br>Remove and serve immediately with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.</br></br>Happy holidays, and please feel free to write in with your own baked-apple recipes!
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