I was more than pleasantly surprised by this apple dessert. It’s an odd concept, baking apples and finishing with a meringue topping, but the end result is quite festive and delicious. You’ll need to use baking apples here, apples that will retain their shape when baked, which means stay away from Macintosh and Red Delicious, as they tend to collapse during baking. Try Jonagold, Crispin, Cortland, and/or Golden Supreme. I’ve listed several spices–use whatever combination strikes your fancy, just keep the total to around a teaspoon, otherwise you’ll overwhelm the apples. Cream of tartar is used to stabilize meringues and soufflés, don’t worry if you don’t have any.

4 T apple juice or apple cider or lemon juice
4 T honey or agave or maple syrup
2 T butter, plus extra for greasing pan
1/2 t ground cinnamon, or to taste
1/2 t ground nutmeg, or to taste
1/4 t ground cardamom, optional
1/8 t ground ginger, optional
1/8 t ground allspice, optional
4 baking apples
3 egg whites, room temperature if possible, but not critical
1/4 t cream of tartar
1 – 2 T sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.

2. Combine the juice, honey, butter, and spices in a small saucepan. Gently heat, stirring with a whisk, until honey and butter are melted and the mixture is emulsified. Set aside.

3. Core apples, or, cut apples in half and remove core, being careful not to break into the apple. On the opposite side of the apple, now the bottom, as it were, slice a thin disc off. This will create a base of stability for the apples in the baking pan.

4. Put apples in the pan, cored side up. Drizzle the sauce over the apples. Cover the pan with foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes, or until the apples are tender.

5. Meanwhile, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat until egg whites are densely foamy. Add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. This means that when you hold the beater(s) up the little peak(s) of egg white will be straight up, not bent over. Remove baking dish from oven. Spoon meringue over apple halves, covering them completely. If you’ve used cream of tartar, you can pile the meringue up. Return to oven for another 10 minutes, until the meringue is tinged with brown.

6. Serve warm or at room temperature, spooning some of the pan juices over the apples.