Baked Apples with Vanilla Ice Cream and Mexican Caramel Sauce
8 granny smith or favorite cooking apple, cored and rubbed with lemon juice ½-3/4 cup apple cider or undiluted apple juice concentrate 2 cinnamon sticks, broken into large pieces 2 tablespoons white sugar 2 tablespoons sugar in the raw 2 tablespoons cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground cloves Pinch of Salt
Place apples in a non-reactive glass or stainless steel pan, making sure all apples touch. If an apple will not stand up, slice a piece off the bottom to level it. Pour liquid over apples, making sure a little goes inside the cored apples. Distribute cinnamon sticks evenly in the bottom of the pan make sure the liquid comes up about ½ inch of the side of the pan, if it doesn't add more cider. Mix the remaining ingredients and divide equally between the apples, filling the core.
Place pan in the center of the cooking grate (or in a 375 F oven) for 45 minutes or until liquid has reduced and apples are tender. Serve at room temperature with a scoop of Vanilla ice cream and a generous drizzle the Mexican Caramel Sauce.
Homemade Mexican Caramel Sauce (Dulce de Leche)
1 14oz sweetened condensed milk
Remove label from can, place in a 4 quart heavy-duty saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 ½ - 3 hours making sure the can is covered by water the entire time. You will need to add water several times during the cooking process. The milk will slowly caramelize during this process. Remove can from water with tongs and a mitt as the can will be very hot and let cool. Serve room temperature over baked apples. One can makes enough for 12-15 servings.
Note: This method of making Dulce de Leche has been done in Mexico for years and years. If you are uncomfortable with the method, pour condensed milk into a heavy-duty saucepan and cook very slowly, stirring constantly until the milk is reduced and caramelized.