Michael loves tender, deeply spiced baked apple slices. He asked me to come up with a baked apple preserve in half and full pints that he could grab off the shelf and throw into his lunch bag. I worked off a pie filling recipe, modifying the spices and foregoing the thickener. Michael found it so addictive he started calling it "Apple Crack". I was kinda uncomfortable with the implied reference so when writing it down I called it "Apple Craic". "Craic" (pronounced crack) is the Irish word for a good time spent with friends, music, drink, and food. It was a bit disconcerting the first time one of our Irish hosts asked us how the craic was down at the pub the night before but the word soon slipped into our conversation while we were there. Now we'll occasionally say without thinking that there was good craic last night and receive some strange looks. But this craic, Apple Craic, is sweetly satisfying and only slightly addictive.
Enough peeled, cored, and thickly sliced apples to fill a large roasting pan
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
3-4 tablespoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
generous pinch of kosher salt
generous pinch of cayenne pepper
¼ cup bottled lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon maple extract
½ cup maple syrup
Preheat oven to 275F
Peel, core and thickly slice enough apples to fill a large roasting pan. If you're using the peel-core-slicer gadget, loosen the piece that cores and slices and lower it to the side. You want thick slices for this.
I use one of these to slice and core the apples after they're peeled.
Fill your roaster full of apples but leave just enough room to toss them with the spices and liquids.
Combine the sugars, spices, salt and cayenne pepper in a bowl and set aside.
Combine lemon juice, extracts, and maple syrup in a measuring cup and set aside.
(Sorry, photo fail)
Sprinkle dry ingredients over apples and toss until well coated. Drizzle half of the maple syrup mixture over apples and toss well. Repeat with remaining mixture.
Cover the roaster with foil and place in the oven.
|Sorry January, this step got left out of your directions. My bad.|
Test every so often with a knife. Because the apples are being roasted low and slow there's lots of time for the spices and syrup to penetrate the apples. Depending on the variety or combination of apples you use this could take two hours or more. When apples are tender and becoming translucent they’re done. There will be a thin spicy syrup in the bottom of the roaster.
Pack hot apples into pint or half pint jars leaving 3/4” head space. Ladle in hot syrup to cover, leaving ½” headspace. If there isn't enough syrup in the roaster, you can top the jars with a light simple syrup (one part sugar to two parts water, bring just to a boil so the sugar dissolves). Remove air bubbles from jars and adjust syrup if necessary. Wipe rims, seal, and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes at sea level. Adjust time for your altitude.