There are a lot of takes on baked apples with honey, but this is my favorite because of the addition of apricots, raisins and savory spices. Serve this dish on its own or with ice cream for a healthful treat that is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.
1) In a medium saucepan, combine the apple cider, brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 25 minutes or so, or until mixture is syrupy and reduced to about 2 2/3 cups.
2) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the apples, cut side down, in a 12-inch baking pan. Distribute the raisins, apricots, cloves, star anise, and cinnamon sticks, if using, over the apples. Pour the hot syrup over the apples. Cover the pan with aluminum foil.
3) Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until the apples are almost tender, but NOT mushy. Remove apples from the oven, flip them apples over, and add the brandy. Baste apples with the apple cider and apple brandy many times, allowing the apples to absorb the flavor. Let the pan stand, covered, for 15 minutes.
Serve baked apples with the liquid and dried fruits spooned over them in a bowl. Served with whipped heavy cream or ice cream and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.
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