When you want a healthy sweet treat or dessert, fresh fruit is the way to go. However, that can be difficult when it’s dead in the middle of winter. Luckily, you can always rely on apples, which are pretty much in season and readily available year-round. I actually came up with this dessert when I was living in the dorms at UCLA. My only cooking tool was a microwave, which I would often make oatmeal in. Subsequently, I kept around some staple items I love to put in oatmeal: apples, dried fruit, nuts, spices, and sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. One night I experimented by basically combining all these items and seeing if I could make a “baked” apple in the microwave, and it worked! From then on it was my go-to for an easy, quick fruit dessert whenever I was craving something sweet. I also realized later on that it’s extremely versatile, and I came up with several potential variations which I’ll share below.
Microwave “Baked” Apple, plus variations
- 1 baking apple, such as Granny Smith or Fuji
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon*
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)*
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon raisins
- 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
- 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
*For the cinnamon and nutmeg, you could substitute a teaspoon of apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice if you have it.
First, slice up the apple. If you have a melon baller, use this method: with a large knife, slice the apple in half right down the middle, then scoop out the core on each half using a melon baller. A grapefruit spoon would also work.
Then, cut out the stem and inedible parts with the top tip of the knife.
Cut each half into wedges, and the apple is ready. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg (if using), brown sugar, vanilla, and raisins.
Cover the bowl with an upside-down plate, like so:
This allows the apple to steam, creating the “baked” effect. Microwave for 3 minutes, then remove it using a towel or oven glove (watch out, the bowl and plate will be HOT). Add the walnuts, drizzle the maple syrup on top, and tell your sweet tooth to wait a minute while it cools down before you enjoy it.
Can you just smell the cinnamon?
And that warm apple pie smell?
I sure can. Now for those variations I mentioned:
- Use different nuts besides walnuts, such as almonds or pecans
- Add a tablespoon of chocolate chips instead of raisins
- Substitute dried cranberries for the raisins
- Drizzle honey or agave nectar on top instead of maple syrup, or if you really want to treat yourself, some store-bought caramel or butterscotch sauce
- Use orange juice instead of lemon juice
- Substitute almond extract for the vanilla extract
- Add a teaspoon of peanut butter or Nutella
Let your culinary imagination run wild, and I’m sure you’ll dream up many more!