Forget pumpkin spice — it’s apple season, and that means cider is plentiful, apple picking is on the weekend to-do list, and fruit-flecked treats are in every bakery across America. But aside from the usual apple dishes you know and love, you may feel stumped on how to use this delicious fruit in other ways. It’s time to get creative with some new twists, and we’re here to help. Wow your holiday guests with some of these seasonal treats that feature fall’s signature fruit.
1. Bake the apples whole
It doesn’t get much simpler, fresher, or more delicious than this. One of the best ways to bake with apples is to not add too much else to them and let their natural flavor shine. Simply Recipes explains how to make baked apples that are coated with cinnamon, brown sugar, and chopped pecans, and that’s it — no lattice crust necessary. Try following this recipe to make a simple treat for your friends and family any night of the week. Who knew simply baking a whole apple could be so good?
- 4 large baking apples like Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious, or Jonagold
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup chopped pecans (optional)
- ¼ cup currants or chopped raisins
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ¾ cup boiling water
- Vanilla ice cream
Directions: Begin this recipe by preheating your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse your apples and dry them. Using a sharp paring knife or an apple corer, cut out the core of the apple to prepare to stuff them. Leave about a ½-inch of bottom intact so the stuffing does not fall out.
Add your brown sugar, cinnamon, and optional raisins and pecans into a bowl to combine, and then into the centers of the apples. Then, add dots of butter on top of the stuffed center.
Place your apples in a baking dish. Pour boiling water into the bottom of the baking dish, and then bake your apples for 30 to 45 minutes, or until they’re completely cooked through. Be careful not to overcook. Serve the apples warm with vanilla ice cream.
2. Make apple pie cookies
It’s typically the apple pie that reigns supreme, but if you want to surprise your friends and family with an apple dish that’s off the beaten path, then you’ll have to try making apple pie cookies. Lovely Little Kitchen makes an excellent Dutch apple pie cookie that tastes like a sweet slice of apple pie in cookie form. You’ll definitely want to try these.
- 1 roll of refrigerated pie dough
- 5 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
For the streusel topping
- 2¼ cups all purpose flour
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup old fashioned oats
- Pinch of salt
- ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons butter, melted
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough. Cut circles out of the dough that are about 2 inches in diameter. You can gather up your dough scraps and re-roll the unused dough to get even more circles if you wish. Place these circles of dough into the muffin tin.
To a medium saucepan, add apples, sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, and cornstarch, and cook over medium-high heat. Stir the mixture occasionally for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the apples have softened slightly and the juices have started to thicken. Then, remove the mixture from the heat, and add about 1 tablespoon of the filling onto each piece of dough in the muffin tin.
Mix flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, oats, and salt in a medium bowl. Then, add melted butter and mix well to create your streusel topping. Add a heaping tablespoon of this topping over the apples in the muffin tins, and press lightly wit your fingers.
Bake cookies for 17 to 19 minutes. Remove from oven, then wait for them to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
3. Bake the apples in a cake
Cake isn’t just for birthday parties anymore, and while most of us have had an apple cake of some kind over the years, we rarely make them at home. It’s sort of silly when you realize how easy they are. Paula Deen’s recipe for Uncle Bob’s fresh apple cake surely doesn’t disappoint, and the honey glaze that goes over top is the perfect companion to the tart Granny Smith apples. You’ll be baking this cake all winter.
For the honey glaze
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons milk
For the cake
- 3 cups diced Granny Smith apples
- 1 cup lightly toasted chopped walnuts
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 1¼ cups vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
Directions: Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Take a bundt pan and lightly grease it with oil or nonstick spray.
Mix apples, walnuts, vanilla, and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. In another bowl, sift your flour, baking soda, and salt until well combined.
In a separate larger bowl, beat your sugar, oil, and eggs with an electric mixer. Add in the dry ingredients and beat them into the egg mixture until everything is combined. Then, fold in your apples gently.
Place your batter into your greased bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. Let the cake cool fully in the pan for about an hour, and then turn the pan upside-down onto a plate before serving.
To make the glaze, simply combine all ingredients and whisk the mixture until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled apple cake before serving.
4. Make a tart
Though there are some intimidating recipes out there for beautiful apple tarts where making your own crust is involved, you don’t have to go that route if you don’t want to. The Comfort of Cooking provides instructions on how to make a quick and easy apple tart that’s warming, homey, and perfect for parties. The apple tart looks beautiful without being too fussy, and the recipe is so easy that you can bake it in a pinch.
- 1 whole sheet puffed pastry, cut in half or into thirds
- 2 whole apples, peeled, cored, halved, and sliced
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Directions: Preheat your oven to 415 degrees Fahrenheit. Take your cut puffed pastry and place them onto a greased baking pan, and set aside.
To a medium bowl, add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add your apples to this mixture and toss everything to combine. Let this sit for a few minutes.
Arrange apple slices neatly over the pastry rectangles, overlapping the pieces of apple as you go. Bake the pastry for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and slightly puffed.
Immediately remove the pastry from the pan once it’s finished baking, and place it on a serving platter. Serve it as it is, or add whipped cream, caramel topping, or powdered sugar over top for extra decadence.
5. Bake a pie, but keep it interesting
Apple pies are as American as football, Ford, and Thanksgiving, which is why we’re saying it’s still one of the best uses for your apples this fall. However, if you’re sick of the same apple pie you have every year during the holiday season, then Bon Appétit has an apple pie for you. This apple pie with spiced apple-caramel sauce incorporates cider vinegar for a bite that no one’s expecting, and the sauce is going to be the talk of the whole party. We guarantee that this recipe will trump all other pies at any fall gathering.
For the crust
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the filling and assembly
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
- 3 pounds sweet-tart apples, peeled, sliced into ¼-inch thick slices
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons raw sugar or granulated sugar
For the spiced apple-caramel sauce
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons apple brandy
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
Directions: You’ll begin by making the crust. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor, and pulse to combine. Then, add the butter, and pulse again until the mixture is crumbly and there are pea-sized pieces of butter still visible.
Transfer this pie crust dough out of the food processor and into a large bowl. Slowly add ⅓ cup water over the dough, and gently mix in the water using a fork. If your dough is too dry and you need more water, add it by the tablespoon. Your dough should come together in clumps and be on the dryer side.
This is enough dough to make two disks, so you can form those now. Wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. This crust can be made up to 2 days ahead of time as well.
For the filling and pie assembly, begin by placing your oven rack in the lower third of your oven and preheating it to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll one disk of dough on a lightly floured surface until it gets to about 13 inches across. Transfer this disk to a pie dish, allowing the excess dough on the sides to hang over the dish. Put your pie dish into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, or until firm.
While your pie dough is chilling, toss your apples, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vinegar, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, allspice, and ¼ cup flour in a large bowl. Then, pour this filling into your chilled crust.
With your other disk of dough, roll it out so that it’s about 12 inches round, and place it on top of the apple filling. Press the top crust down on the edges to seal with the bottom crust, and trim the overhanging crust to ½ inch. Crimp the edges.
Cut 5 small slits in the top crust to allow the steam to escape while the pie is baking. Beat the egg and one tablespoon of water together in a small bowl to make an egg wash for the crust. Brush the wash over the top crust, and then sprinkle some raw sugar over it so it sticks. Place your pie in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking.
When you’re ready to bake, place your pie on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Then, reduce oven heat to 350 degrees and rotate the pie for even baking. Continue baking the pie, tenting the crust with foil if the crust begins to brown too fast. Bake for another 50 to 60 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool at least 4 hours before slicing and serving. This pie can be made up to a day ahead of time as well.
For the spiced apple-caramel sauce, start by adding your sugar and ¼ cup water to a large saucepan. Boil this mixture over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar completely dissolves. Swirl the pan occasionally as well to get all of the sugar mixed in, and brush down the sides of a pan with a wet pastry brush until the mixture is a deep amber color, about 8 to 10 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to low, add butter, and stir the mixture until it’s completely smooth (it will bubble a lot when the butter is first added). Stir in your cream, apple brandy, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, and stir until smooth. Remove the caramel from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes. This sauce can be made up to a week ahead of time.