Do you ever buy those bags of smallish apples? Do you buy them with every intention of tucking them into lunch bags and grabbing them as a healthy snack on your way out the door? Do you have all these nice plans for them but then discover the apples have actually been bashed about quite a bit in that little bag and they have bruises and a rather mealy texture? If yes, yes, yes, then I am so glad to not be alone in this.
I love apples but when they are not at their best, the redemptive course of action is to cook or bake them. Below is my method for doing so. (You can of course do this with perfectly perfect apples too). With a scoop of ice cream, I think it would make a nice, cozy sort of valentine's dessert.
10 to 12 small apples (granny smith & gala, I always seem to have a hodgepodge), medium-diced
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamon
2 tablespoons honey
1) In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter. Add diced apples, brown sugar, lemon & orange zest, cinnamon, cardamon and honey. Stir and cook until apples are coated in this sugary spiced mixture and just start to release juice into the pan.
2) Reduce the heat to low. Cook for 60 to 90 minutes (really!), stirring occasionally, until apples have broken down to soft edges but still maintain their shape (not trying to make applesauce.) As it cooks, can add 1/2 cup water if the pan looks like it is getting too dry.
3) While still warm, spoon 1/2 cup of spiced apples into bowl and top with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream.