Stuffed Spiced Apples

Serves 4

For the apples:

4 tart apples (McIntosh, Braeburn, or Granny Smith)

1 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/4 cup whiskey

4 tablespoons golden raisins

3 tablespoons chopped pecans

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

4 tablespoons crispy granola


For the vanilla sauce:

4 egg yolks, lightly beaten

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups milk

1 whole vanilla bean, split


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the top off the apples (about an inch down) and reserve for garnish. With a spoon, scoop out the interior flesh of the apples to create a well in the center, but leave a half inch around the edges.

Mix the raisins with the whiskey and cook in a small saucepan over medium heat for 5 minutes until raisins are tender and soaked.

Stir together the sugar with water and butter in a small saucepan over moderate heat, until golden and caramelized, about 5-7 minutes. Brush the outside of the apples with the warm caramel sauce. Mix the whisky soaked raisins with the chopped nuts, honey and spices. Fill each apple with the mixture and finish with a tablespoon of granola on top. Place in oven along with the apple tops and bake for 15-20 minutes until apples are softened and cooked through.

For the vanilla sauce, beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until the yolks are thick and pale yellow and the sugar is dissolved, about 4 minutes. Heat milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until almost boiling, then pour over the egg yolk mixture in a thin stream, using a whisk or electric mixer stirring constantly. Pour back into the same saucepan and continue to cook over low heat until mixture coats the back of a spoon. Stir in the vanilla bean and remove pan from heat.

In each serving dish, spoon a generous serving of vanilla sauce. Serve the hot apples over the vanilla and finish each with the apple tops.