This warm fall dessert is easy to make, colorful and deliciously fragrant. Use large apples that will keep their shape, firm texture, and sweet taste when baked (Rome apples, for example). This recipe can be prepared up to 4 hours in advance.
Zest of 1 orange, 1/2 finely chopped and 1/2 whole
4 Rome or Golden Delicious apples
2 cups fresh cranberries
Juice of 2 oranges
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons butter
5 cinnamon sticks
vanilla ice cream (optional)
Boil the chopped orange zest in 1 quart of water for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Slice a 1/4 inch cap off each apple and cut out the stem, creating a small hole large enough to fit a cinnamon stick through. Set the caps aside. Core the apples with a melon baller, making a good size cavity to hold the cranberries. Discard the apple flesh. Place the cored apples in a small baking pan and evenly divide half of the cranberries, the chopped zest, the juice of 1 orange, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and 1 tablespoon of the butter among the cavities of the cored apples. Stick a cinnamon stick through the hole in each cap and place the apple caps back on top of each apple, with the cinnamon stick sticking out of the stem hole. Add the remaining cranberries, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon butter, whole orange zest, juice of 1 orange, and cinnamon stick to the baking pan around the apples.
Bake the apples for 30-40 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Place the warm apples in the center of a round serving dish. Spoon the sauce around the apples. You can serve sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on the side.