Honey Butter Baked Apple with Almonds
A Recipe with a Legacy of Love, Gratitude, and Survival.
If you happen to have experienced a winter Sahrieh in the Lebanese mountains, you probably know of the wood burning stove surrounded by family and friends.
You would probably also know about these golden baked apples, and the pleasure of enjoying them right out of the wood stove. I do, and I cherish the warm memories despite the era that surrounded them.
That was a period of uncertainty, the onset of our Lebanese civil war. Many families like mine had to take refuge in the mountains that year of 1975; a year like no other for us who lived in the city by the Mediterranean Sea. It was a period of waiting for the isolated armed conflicts in Beirut and Tripoli, our two major cities, to halt. We were all hoping that things would soon go back to normal, and we to the homes we left behind in a rush for safety. Back then, no one expected that the clashes would quickly evolve into a raging civil war that would last almost 20 years. There, up in the towns and villages of our beautiful Northern Mountains, life went on, safe and typical friendly communal.
At the time, we used to spend our summers in Hasroun, a beautiful lively town perched over the Kadisha Valley, also known as the Valley of The Saints; a blissful view that Hasroun shares with annexed villages, including Bsharri, the birth town of Gibran Khalil Gibran.
Summer of 75 ending, and the autumn announcing the eminent winter, but not the end of the conflicts, my father prepared for us to prolonge our safe temporary stay in our summer residence.
Truth is, we were literally stuck in the mountain at 1600 m of altitude. The winter would be harsh and long for us. Like with all the locals who live in the mountains in winters, my father had a large wood stove installed in the middle of the living room to ensure us a warm dwelling.
That wood burning stove would come to gather around it the family and the friends for the Sahrieh; the winter evenings of casual socialization that would extend to late nights. Right on the stove, the tea would be brewing, and, right inside, our treats would be baking, from potatoes and chestnuts to apples.
Despite the uncertain times of those days, the gatherings around the wood stove were very enjoyable. Stories ,old and new, would be shared, legends narrated, social games played, and jokes and laughter always on the menu. It might surprised many of you but that is a typical Lebanese attitude: Enjoying the present with appreciation, and making the best out of harsh times.
I write now with the warmth of nostalgia. These nights would bond us together, family, friends, and neighbors, like no other. Despite the war, these nights, right there and in those moments, were happy times.
They did not last though. Soon enough the war would take the country by hurricane, and all was never the same. We would never return to our home in Tripoli. Like with too many Lebanese families that year, the displacements were only starting.
The displacement continued for our family throughout the years. My siblings and I were placed in different boarding schools in Kessrwan until the family reunited again in a new home in that region. Another separation occurred later with a displacement across the oceans, to my birth country Venezuela for a year, then back to Lebanon. By the time the war ended in 1992, my parents and siblings had taken residence in Houston, and became American citizens. As for me, my life path took me to and through different countries until recently when I now can call Canada my home.
These baked apples, coming out golden hot and juicy from the wood stove, are for me more than a memory of a childhood dessert. They evoke in me a legacy of survival and of gratitude for Life; a pillar memory of the love of our people bonding together, and making the best out of difficult times. A legacy from our forefathers. A Lebanese one.
For the friends and families who gathered with us back then, those who are gone and those who are still walking their journey, for those beautiful times of bonding, and with gratitude of having lived them, I am bringing up today the recipe of our baked apples, with a touch of love and some refinement.
For you, Lebanon, the Cedar Land that has always refused to kneel and die,
For your legacy that prevails across times and spaces,
May we always live you in our hearts with deep gratitude and a smile of joy.
The Honey Butter Baked Apples with Almond Flakes
These apples are super delicious consumed warm by their own, or sided with Vanilla Ice Cream. If you are opting to serve with ice cream, consider 1 scoop for each apple.
- 4 Red Apples
- 60 gr Honey
- 60 gr Butter cut in 4 equal portions
- 4 tsps Cognac Optional
- 4 tsps Almond flakes raw or toasted, as desired.
- 4 dashes Ground Cinnamon Optional but desirable
- Apple Corer
- Baking Pan
- 4 scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
Preheat your oven at 220C.
Using the Apple Corer, perforate the apples from the top without reaching the bottom, and remove its center and seeds.
Gently peel the apples, and arrange them on a baking pan, separated from each other.
Top each apple with a piece of butter. Slowly, pour the honey in equal parts on the butter and apples.
Baking in two phases
Place the pan in the oven to bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pan, drizzle one tsp of Cognac on each apple.
Use a tablespoon to scoop the honey-butter liquid from around the apples onto the apples. Bathe them well, sides and openings.
Dust them lightly with ground cinnamon, and return the pan to the oven to bake for another 10 minutes.
Gently transfer each apple on a plate. Top each with 1 tsp of almonds. Using a tablespoon, drip some hot honey juice over the apples. Scoop more and surround the apples at the base with honey juice.
Allow them to temper down for a minute, and serve.
If you are serving the Honey Baked Apples with Vanilla Ice Cream, use one scoop per apple. Place it gently on the side, in the same plate, without it touching the apple so it won't melt too quickly.
MORE RECIPES TO ENJOY