Bring the Orchard Home with Easy Roast Apples

An apple dessert so good it doesn’t need a pie crust

By Ben Mims

Published on November 5, 2015

If, like me, your frame of reference for apples is the dark red, mealy tennis balls served to you in grade school, then it's time to treat yourself to an apple-picking trip. Biting into a fresh, crisp, and juicy apple you just plucked from the tree while standing in the crisp autumn air is just about as far away from that cafeteria as you can get. I make it a ritual every fall, and it always renews my appreciation for this familiar fruit—especially when I go for less common varieties like Macouns, Cortlands, Honey Crisps, Empires, and Japanese Yatakas, that are grown for flavor and texture, not their ability to sit in a produce bin forever.

Those aforementioned Yatakas inspired this dessert, dreamt up after scarfing down an apple while still at the orchard. It had the requisite honey-sweet flavor, but with a lightly fermented brightness and warm nutty quality. Quite frankly, it was the best apple I've ever eaten. But if I can never find it again in grocery stores, at least I can mimic its flavor by roasting other crisp, tart apples in honey and butter, and then whisking the cooking juices with a shot of Calvados and toasted sesame seeds. This “dressing” is then tossed back over the warm apples so they soak up its glory. A dollop of creme fraiche turns the apples into a proper dish, but honestly, I’d eat these apples plain for breakfast, as a side dish for roast pork, or tossed in a blind-baked tart crust for an elegant dessert.

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