Cooked Apples
Dessert is apples baked in the fireplace and covered with a not-so-secret sauce: melted vanilla ice cream, which Orr calls “the easiest sauce you’ll ever make.” Photo by Daniel Orr

Part 5 of a web-exclusive holiday recipe series that will enliven your holiday cooking. Click here to see all of the recipes from the series.

Often the best part of a holiday meal isn’t the meal itself—it’s what comes after. These holiday desserts will warm your soul and satisfy any sweet tooth.

Old-Fashioned Baked Apples with Sweet Season Spices
Chef Daniel Orr

6 servings

6 large (7 to 10 ounces each) baking apples (such as Braeburn, Empire, Honeycrisp, Jonathan, or Rome)
1/2 c apple juice
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c raisins
1/4 c old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 c breadcrumbs
6 T packed light brown sugar
3 T maple syrup
1 1/2 T unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 tsp Kitchen d’Orr Sweet Season Spice Blend (see below) or cinnamon

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position.

2) Using an apple corer or a small, sharp paring knife, core the apples. (The center cavity should be no more than 1 inch in diameter.) If necessary, trim a thin slice from the bottom of each apple so it stands upright.

3) Using a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife, peel away a 1-inch ring of skin from around the top of each apple. Using the tip of a paring knife, make four small slashes about 1/2 inch deep around the equator of each apple. (These steps aid the release of steam, which helps the apples remain intact rather than collapsing.)

4) Place the apples in a large baking dish.

5) In a bowl, combine the juice, lemon juice, and vanilla and pour the mixture around the apples. In the same bowl as you used for the juice mixture, combine the raisins, oats, breadcrumbs, sugar, maple syrup, butter and spices. Divide the mixture evenly among the apples, spooning it into the cavity.

6) Bake the apples, basting occasionally with the pan juices, until they are tender when pricked with the tines of a fork, 45-65 minutes, depending on the size and variety of apple. If they begin to darken, cover with foil and continue to bake until tender. Set the apples aside to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. (May cover and refrigerate for up to several days and reheat until warm, but not hot, before serving.)

7) To serve, spoon the apples into individual bowls and spoon the warm juices over and around the apples. If you wish, cover with vanilla ice cream before serving.

Kitchen d’Orr Sweet Season Spice Blend
Also available at FARMbloomington.

1 tsp ginger powder
1 stick cinnamon (1/2 inch wide)
1/2 tsp annatto seeds
1/2 tsp pomegranate powder
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 pieces star anise
2 pieces cloves
1 piece mace
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2 bay leaves

1) Grind all ingredients until fine in a spice blender.

2) Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

Berry Crisp
Chef David Davenport’s Pear and Berry Crisp recipe. Photo by Lynae Sowinski

Pear and Berry Crisp
David Davenport
Bloomington Cooking School

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 sticks salted butter
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped

1) Combine flour and sugar.

2) Slice the butter into small pieces and cut it into the flour mixture. Then fold in walnuts.

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 bag frozen mixed fruit
3 pears, pealed, cored, and sliced
1 lemon, juiced
Rum, to taste

1) Thoroughly combine dry ingredients. Then thoroughly combine wet ingredients and combine the two. It can be helpful to measure the fruit by first filling the baking dish and using that amount.

2) Place in baking dish and cover with topping mixture.

3) Bake in 375ºF oven for about 35 minutes. Check to see if fruit slices easily. It will most likely be about 45 minutes.

Apple Crisp
David Davenport’s Apple Crisp. Photo by Lynae Sowinski

Apple Crisp
David Davenport
Bloomington Cooking School

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks of cold salted butter
1 cup walnuts, chopped

1) Combine flour, sugar, and salt. Work butter into the mixture. The mixture will be floury.

2) Mix in walnuts and set aside.

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
6 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 lemon, juiced
Rum, to taste
Butter, to taste

1) Combine dry ingredients and set aside.

2) Mix apple slices, lemon juice, and rum in a separate bowl. Then fold in dry ingredients.

3) Place in baking dish. Dot with butter (see photo below), then cover with the topping mixture.

4) Bake at 375°F for about 25 to 30 minutes. Test apples with a knife to make sure they are fully cooked.

Cranberry Scones
Jan Bulla-Baker’s Cranberry Scones. Photo by Lynae Sowinski

Cranberry Scones
Jan Bulla-Baker
Bloomington Cooking School

4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, chilled
2 eggs
1 egg yolk, save the white
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups fresh cranberries (or 1/2 cup Craisins)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon water

1) Mix dry ingredients together. Cut in the chilled butter. Add the eggs and egg yolk.

2) Mix in cranberries, almonds, and chocolate chips with your hands. Gradually add the cream. However, do not overmix the dough; you want to see some of the flour (see photo). The mixture will still be crumbly.

3) Scoop equal portions and round with hands. Place on parchment baking paper or lightly greased baking sheet.

4) Mix egg white and water together, then brush the mixture on each of the scones.

5) Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Check after 10 minutes—smaller scones bake faster.


Jan Bulla-Baker’s Persimmon Pudding. Photo by Lynae Sowinski

Persimmon Pudding
Jan Bulla-Baker
Bloomington Cooking School

2-3 cups persimmon pulp
1-2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
1/3 cup light cream (or half-and-half)
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2) Melt butter in a 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Swirl the butter to grease the pan.

3) Mix baking soda and buttermilk in a separate bowl and stir. The mixture will start to foam. Stir until the foaming stops.

4) Mix sugar and pulp in a large bowl. Add the baking soda and buttermilk mixture. Then add eggs, light cream, and vanilla.

5) Sift and stir in dry ingredients.

6) Pour excess butter from the pan into the pudding mixture and mix.

7) Pour batter into the baking pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until done in middle. Serve with whipped cream.