Brown Sugar-Baked Apples

A true classic, this beautiful dessert is lovely topped with crème fraîche.

4 apples
½ cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 cup boiling water
Chopped walnuts or pecans, if desired

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Rinse and dry the apples. Using a sharp paring knife or apple corer, cut out the cores, leaving the bottom ½-inch of the apples intact. (If using a paring knife, first cut out the stem area and then use a small metal spoon to scoop out the seeds). Cut the holes so that they are an inch or so wide.

2. Place the apples in a baking dish and stuff each apple with 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 tablespoon butter, and a sprinkling of chopped nuts, if using. Sprinkle each apple with cinnamon.

3. Pour the boiling water into the bottom of the baking dish. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until the apples are cooked through and just tender, but not overcooked and mushy. When done, remove the apples from the oven and baste them with the juices from the pan. Serve with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream or crème fraîche.

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