Apples have long held an important place in ancient mythology. From the golden apple of the Trojan War to the three golden apples Aphrodite gave to Melanion, a suitor of the huntress Atalanta, this fruit has a rich history.
In one legend, Paris, the son of the king of Troy, was assigned the task of giving a golden apple to the most beautiful of the Grecian goddesses. He awarded it to Aphrodite, who promised him the love of the enchanting Helen, a decision that lead to the destruction of the city of Troy.
Another Greek myth showcases Atalanta, an athletic and beautiful young woman who refused to marry anyone who couldn't beat her in a footrace. The goddess Aphrodite stepped in to help the besotted Melanion by giving him three golden apples to drop and distract his beloved during the race, thus ensuring his victory.
Once my young twin daughters were old enough to eat slices of this sweet fruit, I bought various types for them to taste. My now three-year-olds especially love the mild flavor of Gala apples. One chilly late Fall afternoon we whipped up delicious cinnamon baked apples using this floral scented fruit. Apples are rich in antioxidants, fiber and the mineral boron…so perhaps eating one a day really could keep the doctor away!
Cinnamon Baked Apples
4 Gala apples
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoons cold butter, diced
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup hot water
Optional: 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon to sprinkle on top of apples after baking
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
First, in a medium bowl mix together the brown sugar, oats, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Place the butter in the bowl and kneed it into the dry mixture with you hands. Your kids will really love doing this part! Put the bowl in the refrigerator, as it will make it easier to scoop the filling into the apples.
Next core the apples, making sure to remove all seeds. Cut off 1/2 inch at the bottom of each core before discarding. Place these “corks” in the undersides of all the apples, as they will keep the filling from leaking out while baking. Make four thin slits down the skin of each apple, evenly spaced around the fruit, to keep it from bursting in the oven. Then arrange the four apples in a shallow baking pan.
Now you are ready to fill all the apples. Let your kids drop the mixture into the hallow centers of the apples. Distribute evenly, lightly packing until slightly peeking over the top. Have the children take turns drizzling the heavy cream on top of the fruit, 1 tablespoon per apple.
Pour the hot water into the bottom of the baking pan. Place the pan in the oven on the top or middle rack. Bake for 40 minutes, the apples should be soft. Remove and let cool. The filling will be be gooey and aromatic. If you like, sprinkle cinnamon on top of each apple and serve. Ice cream, or a dairy-free frozen alternative, goes wonderfully with this treat. To make it extra delicious add a scoop to each plate, or even pop a teaspoon of it on top of each apple!
Apple: contains fiber, which lowers cholesterol, helps keep you satisfied and your bowels regular
Oats: whole grains packed with B-vitamins, heart healthy mono-unsaturated fats, and just like apples, packed with fiber which is great for your heart, digestive system, and diabetes management