Sponsored Post: Baked Frangipane Apples with Pazazz

The holiday season was made for these beautiful baked apples with a center of nutty frangipane.
The holiday season was made for these beautiful baked apples with a center of nutty frangipane.

I’m the type of person who bakes when I’m happy.

Or sad.

Or stressed.

Or curious about a particular recipe.

Or simply want to spoil myself or others with something joyfully indulgent.

And at this time of year, when I bake with samples of fresh Pazazz apples, I get especially giddy because they are a natural mood booster.

Yes, apples are loaded with antioxidants that fuel neurotransmitters in the brain that trigger the release of dopamine that elevates the feelings of pleasure, contentment, and motivation.

This mighty fruit also helps lower cholesterol, decreases the risk of diabetes, aids in weight loss, promotes good digestion, and boasts anti-inflammatory properties.

Now's the time to get your hand on some Pazazz apples.
Now’s the time to get your hand on some Pazazz apples.

Of course, they are mighty delicious, too. Ruby red with yellow-green striations, Pazazz are super snappy and full of sweet, tangy, quenching juice.

A late-season variety, they’re grown by a group of family-owned orchards in North America. They’re available now through summer at Albertson’s, Safeway, and Vons.

Enjoy them out of hand or in your favorite sweet or savory recipe. Best yet, they keep their shape when baked, making them ideal to spotlight in this fabulous recipe for “Baked Frangipane Apples.”

I’ve been longing to try this recipe from one of my favorite baking books, “What’s For Dessert” (Clarkson Potter, 2022) by New York Times’ best-selling cookbook author and former senior food editor at Bon Appetit magazine, Claire Saffitz.

Getting my hands on some Pazazz proved the perfect excuse to finally make it. And it did not disappoint. It’s simply everything you want in an apple dessert at this time of year.

Although Saffitz wrote the recipe with small firm, sweet-tart apples such as Pink Lady in mind, the Pazazz worked beautifully in their place.

The apples get peeled only partially, so that bands of the skin remain to create a beautiful striped look, almost like a candy cane.

You peel the apples only partially.
You peel the apples only partially.
The apples fresh out of the oven.
The apples fresh out of the oven.

After the apples are cored, fluffy, creamy frangipane is piped into their hollows. A cap of frangipane also tops each one. The pastry cream is made by beating together sugar, butter, egg, all-purpose flour, and toasted almond flour. A dash of almond extract heightens the nuttiness. A splash of rum adds a party-hardy festiveness.

The apples are arranged in a baking pan that gets a little heavy cream poured into the bottom. They bake low and slow for about 90 minutes until the apples are tender and their frangipane caps caramelize. Some of the frangipane will have fallen into the pool of cream below, melding into a delicious sweet slurry to serve with each apple.

Enjoy the apples while they’re still warm, sprinkling them with toasted sliced almonds, and a drizzle of cold heavy cream for a delectable contrast in temperatures much like warm apple pie a la mode.

Enjoy the apples warm with a drizzle of chilled heavy cream for a delightful contrast.
Enjoy the apples warm with a drizzle of chilled heavy cream for a delightful contrast.

This dessert explodes with almond intensity from the frangipane that’s sweet, but far less so than almond paste or marzipan. Even after baking, the apples still possess a bright zing that balances everything nicely.

With their snazzy stripes, these apples look perfectly dressed up for the holidays. Their taste is pure snuggly comfort. Because each person gets their very own to enjoy, they feel extra special, too.

Should you have any leftover baked apples, reheat them the next morning for a breakfast sure to spoil you for life.

It’s no wonder that apples lift our spirits high, no matter the time or occasion.

Fragrant, nutty, and sweet frangipane reveals itself in the center of each apple.
Fragrant, nutty, and sweet frangipane reveals itself in the center of each apple.

Baked Frangipane Apples
(Serves 8)

1 cup almond flour

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for the foil

1 large egg, at room temperature

2 tablespoons dark rum

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher slat or 1/4 teaspoon Morton kosher salt

8 firm sweet-tart apples, such as Pazazz

1 3/4 cups heavy cream, chilled, divided

Preheat the oven: Arrange an oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Toast the almonds: Spread the almond flour across one half of a large sheet pan in an even layer, scatter the sliced almonds across the other half, and toast until both are golden brown and fragrant, 5 to 8 minutes, tossing the sliced almonds and stirring the almond flour halfway through. Let cool completely on the pan. Leave the oven on.

Make the frangipane: In a medium bowl, with a hand mixer, beat the sugar and butter on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, pausing occasionally and using a flexible spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat on medium until thoroughly incorporated, then beat in the rum and almond extract. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. The mixture may look slightly broken (meaning the liquid is separated from the solids), but that’s normal. Add the all-purpose flour, salt, and toasted almond flour and beat on medium until you have a smooth mixture. Set the toasted sliced almonds aside for serving.

Transfer to a pastry bag: Scrape the frangipane into a pastry bag or resealable plastic bag, squeeze out the air, and twist or seal to close. Set it aside.

Prepare the apples: Set the apples on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to slice off a thin piece of flesh from the base and stem ends of each apple, creating two flat surfaces. Use a vegetable peeler to remove several strips of peel from around each apple, peeling from top to bottom, giving them a striped look. Working one at a time, stand the apples upright and use an apple corer to cut out the cores (discard the cores and peels). Place the cored apples upright inside a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Fill the apples: Snip a 1/2-inch opening in the tip or corner of the bag, then place the opening just inside the hollow center of one of the apples and squeeze until you’ve filled the entire cavity. Repeat until all the apples are filled. Then, dividing the remaining frangipane evenly, pipe generous dollops on the cut surfaces at the tops of the apples.

Add the cream, cover, and bake: Pour 3/4 cup of the cream into the bottom of the baking dish and place the baking dish on a large sheet pan. Butter a piece of foil large enough to cover the baking dish and tent it loosely over the apples buttered-side down, then crimp it firmly around the sides of the baking dish.

Bake: Bake the apples for 1 hour, then remove the foil (some of the frangipane will have melted onto the bottom). Continue to bake uncovered until the frangipane is golden brown and the apples are tender but not broken down and a cake tester or toothpick slides easily into the flesh with just a bit of resistance, another 30 to 45 minutes for small or medium apples (but possibly longer for larger ones).

Serve: Let the apples cool until they’re warm but not piping hot, then transfer them, along with any frangipane and cream that caramelized on the bottom of the baking dish, to shallow serving bowls. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the remaining chilled cream over each apple and top with the toasted sliced almonds, dividing evenly. Serve immediately.

Make them ahead: Yes, but wait to bake them. The apples are best eaten warm from but you can fill them, arrange inside the baking dish, cover, and refrigerate for up to 4 hours before baking. Bake them directly from the refrigerator, and don’t forget to pour in the cream.

Halve the recipe: Halve all the ingredient quantities, with these exceptions: Use 1/2 cup heavy cream for the bottom of the baking dish and 1 yolk in the frangipane rather than 1/2 egg. Proceed with the recipe as written, filling 4 apples and baking them in a 2-quart shallow baking dish or 9-inch round cake pan.

Make it gluten-free: Replace the all-purpose flour with an equal amount of your preferred gluten-free flour blend.

Adapted from “What’s For Dessert” by Claire Saffiz

More Recipes to Make with Pazazz Apples: Brown Rice, Cranberry & Almond Salad

And: Asiago Apple Galette

And: Quick Bread-and-Butter Apple Pickles

And: Cheese Focaccia with Pazazz Apples

And: Williamsburg Wrapples

And: Apple Beehive

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  • And oh my goodness, you just happen to have the most adorable little leaf plates on which to serve these? Sheer perfection!

  • Hi Carroll: Would you believe that was the first time I’ve used those wonderful plates? They were a gift pre-pandemic that I received for helping to judge an event. They are even prettier in person. 😉

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