Baked Apples with Honey and Brandy

    On a crisp fall or winter day, what could be more comforting than a spicy baked apple adorned with whipped cream?

    SERVES 4

    4 large tart apples (such as Cortland or McIntosh)

    ВЅ cup honey

    Вј cup brandy

    2 tablespoons water

    ВЅ teaspoon cinnamon

    Pinch nutmeg

    Pinch allspice

    в…“ cup chopped walnuts

    1 tablespoon butter

    Lightly sweetened whipped cream (optional)

    1. Preheat the oven to 425В°F. Butter a baking dish just large enough to fit the apples comfortably an 8 x 8-inch pan works well.
    2. Peel one-third of the top of each apple and keep the remaining skin intact. Core the apples. (If you do not have an apple corer the easiest way to do this is to cut two-thirds of the way down from the top of the apple around the core, going around the core a number of times until a smooth cut has been made, then repeating this from the bottom of the apple. Push the core out from the bottom through the top.)
    3. Put the honey, brandy, water, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and walnuts in a small saucepan, and heat just until the liquids have blended, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, then one by one roll the apples in the mixture to coat well. Place them in the baking dish and pour the remaining liquid over them. Cut the butter into bits and place on top of the apples.
    4. Bake, basting occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until an apple is tender when gently pierced with a sharp knife or cake tester. Do not overcook, or the apples will burst. Serve warm or at room temperature with the remaining syrup poured over them. They are especially good served with a spoonful of lightly sweetened whipped cream.