Fall cries out for spicy, cozy baked foods such as apples and pumpkins. You can personalize this dessert by varying the dried fruits, nuts, and spices or by replacing the brandy with cranberry juice. The best types of apples for baking whole are Cortland (which I used), Rome Beauty, Honeycrisp, and Granny Smith. Of course, you’ll want some nondairy ice cream with these, and thankfully, our local supermarket carries about 30 different flavors. I went with the cashew milk salted caramel.


4 large apples

¼ cup apple cider, cranberry juice, or water

¼ heaping cup raisins or dried cranberries

¼ heaping cup chopped pecans or walnuts

¼ cup brandy

3 to 4 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon

Pinch of salt


  1. Wash the apples and dry them well. Core them but do not cut all the way through the bottom. A melon baller works well to hollow them out once you’ve cut through the tops on an angle. Peel off a 1-inch-wide ribbon of the apple skin completely around the stem end. Use a paring knife to make several shallow 1-inch vertical slits all around the top of the apple, starting just under where you removed the peel around the stem. This should help to keep the apples from collapsing during baking.
  2. Spray a 9-by-9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place the apples in the dish. Pour the cider or juice in the pan around the apples.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the raisins, nuts, brandy, sugar, spice, and salt. Pack this mixture into the apples.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Brush the apples with the pan juices.

Wendy Andresen lives in Camden with her husband, Ray; her Sheltie, Sunshine; and her bunny, Rustle. She welcomes responses to her column at wendyandrayzer@yahoo.com.