I remember the baked apples my mother used to make all the time, back when the fruit we got in Athens was not wonderful as Fuji apples are today. Costas who grew up in Volos, remembers the exquisite heirloom apples from Pelion he loved. They have now disappeared as the trees are grafted to uniformly produce big red apples with little taste or aroma.
Fuji are grown in Greece the last few years and they are by far the best –and more expensive. For this simple, plant-based (vegan) dessert I loosely follow my mothers recipe.
Unlike northern Europeans and Americans we don’t add butter to baked apples. I would serve these as dessert, but I know that some people would like to compliment game, poultry or hearty winter meats with baked apples.
6-7 Fuji, or other firm-fleshed apples
4-5 dried figs
1 cup fig jam, or quince preserves
1/2 cup walnuts peeled
1 cup mixed sultanas and currants
2 pieces cinnamon stick, cut in half
½ -1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground allspice
A good sprinkle of Mishmish spice mix (optional)
Honey or Maple syrup for drizzling
Plain Halva for serving, optional
Heat the oven to 392F (200 C).
With an apple corer, remove the pits from the apples. With a peeler remove most of the skin in a spiral all around the fruit. Place in a pan that holds them snugly.
Cut the stem from the dried figs and quarter them. Place a piece of fig in the hole of each pitted apple, along with some of the jam, and squeeze in some currents and/of sultanas.
Spread the rest of the dried fruit, the jam, and the walnuts around the apples in the pan, and scatter the pieces of cinnamon. Sprinkle with the spices and douse the apples and all around them with the wine that should come to about half up the fruits.
Bake for about 1 hour, dousing every now and then the apples with the juices from the pan.
When they soften, turn off the heat and leave them in the oven for 15 minutes, keeping the oven door ajar.
Take out of the oven and pour again juices from the pan over the apples, then sprinkle generously with Mishmish, if using. Drizzlingthe fruit with some honey or maple syrup, if you like the apples sweeter. Cover with foil and let cool completely before serving. They taste better the next day and their flavor improves the next 2-3 days. They keep at least ten days, covered in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Accompany with halva, or if you are not vegan, with Greek manouri cheese or mastic ice cream.