Tonight I was craving something delicious but not too sweet, something with fruit, something hot and cold together. I remembered this recipe for Baked Apples that I made at least 7 years ago. It's a Martha Stewart recipe, but unlike a lot of her recipes, it's actually fairly simple. The apples are soft and tender, and the sauce is sweet and spicy, and the cream is cool and tart. I love it. Here's the recipe, and then I'll let you know what changes I made to it when I made it tonight, in case you want an alternate version.
Spicy Baked Apples
4 apples (recommended: Rome variety or other slightly tart, hard apple)
6 T maple syrup
3 T butter
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
4 cinnamon sticks
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
2 T powdered sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
2 T cream
Preheat the oven to 450F. Slice a thin slice off the bottom of each apple so it will stand, then core each apple to within 1/2" of the bottom. Don't take out too much of the apple, just about a 3/4"-diameter cylinder in the middle of the apple. Cut a bit of skin off the top ring of the apple. Place the apples in a pie pan. Cut one tablespoon of butter into 4 pieces, and put one piece of butter into each apple. Also put 1/8 tsp of the freshly ground ginger, 1 T syrup, and 1 cinnamon stick in each apple. Put the remaining butter and syrup in the pie pan and bake at 450F for 30-35 minutes, basting the apples with the juices occasionally.
Remove baked apples from pie pan and place on serving plate(s). Let the sauce sit in the pan to thicken. Let apples cool while you prepare the cream.
In a food processor, combine ricotta, powdered sugar, ground cinnamon, and cream. Mix until smooth. Serve apples with a few spoonfuls of the cream and the sauce drizzled on top.
Because I made this spur-of-the-moment, I didn't have ricotta cheese. Instead I mixed 3/4 cup plain yogurt with 3 T powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp vanilla. It wasn't as thick as the ricotta mixture would have been, so I poured it around the apple on the serving dish. It was tangier than the ricotta, which I think I actually preferred. I'll let you decide!