Who isn't a bit sated after the excesses of the holidays? Every year I resolve to be healthier in January but my resolve weakens quicker than a snowflake in the morning sun. Yesterday I finished off a bag of caramel corn laced with chocolate chunks and sugar-glazed nuts before 11:30 a.m. There is still torrone in the cupboard; extra-creamy cheeses in the fridge; and Christmas cookies in the freezer. What's a gal to do?
I've given some of the goodies to friends, but they too, are trying to eat healthier as the calendar turns a page. Even away from the house, everywhere I turn, I can't escape the temptations. Food seems to be the common denominator that brings friends and family together, whether it's lunch with friends, espresso and cakes with my Italian chit-chat group or dinner with family. Only those with the the strongest will-power can avoid succumbing to the temptations.
If you want to steer clear of temptations, but still want a little sweetness at the end of your meal, forget about those leftover goodies for a while and try some baked fruit, like this apple. It's gussied up enough to feel special, yet there's little sugar and lots of flavor to satisfy your sweet tooth. The cinnamon stick idea was borrowed from my good friend Stacey of Stacey Snacks, who took it from Stephane at Zen Can Cook. Whenever I make baked apples, I like to add some dried prunes to the stewing liquid. For those of you turning your noses at the idea, give it a try. Once the prunes have cooked in the marsala wine for an hour, the flavor is intensely redolent of marsala and sweet plums.
I could suggest gilding the lily with some super-rich ice cream on the side, but that's only for those of you who have behaved in the last month.
So what will I do with all that ice cream? .....
I wonder if my neighbor's cat Ahso, who visits me occasionally (and stalks my bird-feeder), likes Haagen Daz vanilla?
printable recipe here
For each apple:
Peel the top 1/3 of the apple and cut into the center from the top, excavating the core and leaving a space for the other ingredients.
Mix a few chopped walnuts and raisins with a tablespoon of brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon. Place a small pat of butter into the apple center, then stuff with the walnut/raisin mixture. Place a cinnamon stick in the center. Place the apple into an oven proof container and strew some prunes around it. Pour 1/2 cup marsala wine over the apple and prunes. Cover loosely with an aluminum foil "tent." Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the apple can be easily pierced with a fork. If you remember, go back into the oven and occasionally baste with the wine.
I like to use winesap apples, but other baking apples, including Granny Smith, are good too.