APPLE BROWNIES

Heather Davis of Cayford Orchards in Skowhegan says this “decadent” brownie is one of her family’s favorite treats. She suggested old-fashioned Mac, Snowe or Wolf River apples as good midseason varieties to use. Later in the season, try Northern Spy.

1/2 cup melted butter or coconut oil
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 medium or 1 large apple, grated, with skin
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon or apple spice

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9×9 baking dish.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar and egg until fluffy. Fold in apples and walnuts. Sift together the remaining ingredients and mix into the wet mixture. Spread batter evenly in greased baking dish.

Bake 35 minutes in preheated oven or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into center of pan.


BAKED APPLES WITH BOURBON-SOAKED RAISINS

This recipe comes from James Beard Award-winning author Rowan Jacobsen, who published it last year in “Apples of Uncommon Character: 123 Heirlooms, Modern Classics, & Little-Known Wonders.”

“Recipes for baked apples always tell you to go big,” he writes, “but a large baked apple is too much for many people, so consider medium instead.”

Jacobson suggests Rome Beauty, Wolf Rivers, Black Oxfords or Blue Pearmains – something that will hold up in the oven and not turn mushy. Other options: “Henry Ward Beecher singled out the Tolman Sweet as the best apple for baking in his sermon on apple pie. The modern classic, for baked apples, is the Pink Lady, which Russ Parsons of the Los Angeles Times tagged back in 1998 as ‘The Apple of the Future.’ Pink Ladies are sweet, spicy, complex, and firm, and their skin stays pink after baking, adding measurably to the wow factor.”

Bourbon goes well with apples and pecans. “The question is how to get it in there,” Jacobsen writes. He suggests using raisins as a vehicle for the bourbon, soaking them at least a day ahead of time. “They will slowly exude its essence into the apples as you eat them.” Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Makes 6 servings

1 cup pecans
¾ cup bourbon-soaked raisins (see below)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
6 tablespoons butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
Pinch of nutmeg
6 medium-large apples
2/3 cup sweet cider

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Toast the pecans by placing them on a sheet in a toaster oven and toasting on a medium-low setting. They should be dark brown and crackling. Be careful not to burn them. Set aside to cool.

Chop the pecans. Combine everything except the apples and cider in a bowl and mix.

Core the apples down to the seed layer, using a paring knife, leaving the bottom of the core in place to hold the filling in. You should have a bowl-shaped cavity in the top of each apple when you are done. Place the apples in a baking pan.

Fill the cavity of each apple completely with the butter-raisin mix. If you have extra filling, save it for step 7. Pour the cider in the pan around the apples.

Cover the baking pan with foil and bake for 40 minutes.

Remove the foil, add any extra filling to the apple cavities, and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Some apples soften much more quickly than others. When a fork or knife pushes easily into the apples, they are ready. Remove from the oven, cool for 5 minutes, and serve in low bowls with the pan sauce poured over the top.

For the bourbon-soaked raisins:

Place 1 cup of raisins in a glass jar. Fill the jar with ¾ cup bourbon (or applejack or Calvados). Seal the jar and store at room temperature. The raisins will start absorbing the bourbon within an hour, but they need to sit overnight for full power. You can keep reusing the bourbon for more batches or you can make a killer Manhattan with it.


BROWN BUTTER APPLE LOAF

This recipe comes from Maine apple expert and preservationist John Bunker’s “Out on a Limb” blog.

Makes 1 loaf

s1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup crème fraîche or plain yogurt
3 tablespoons apple brandy, such as Apple Jack or Calvados
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 apples, cored and diced
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a loaf pan with butter or cooking spray.

Place the butter in a medium skillet and melt over medium heat. Continue cooking, swirling occasionally to prevent burning, until the butter is bubbling and golden brown with a nutty aroma. Combine the butter in a large mixing bowl with the sugar, brown sugar, and eggs. Whisk to combine.

Add the flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Follow with the crème fraîche, apple brandy, vanilla, apples and pecans; the batter will be very thick.