Recipe: Rozanne Gold's Apples to the 3rd Power

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I pronounce these baked apples "to the third power" because fresh apples, apple butter, and apple cider are used.  The best varieties here are Cameo or Winesap.  Serve slightly warm with lightly sweetened creme fraiche or heavy cream.

4 large apples, 9 to 10 ounces each
3 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 cup apple butter
1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup fresh unpasturized apple cider

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Core the apples; remove a very thin slice from each top.  Stir together the sugar and cardamom and put 1 teaspoon in the cavity of each apple.  Fill each to the top with apple butter.  Top each apples with a slice of butter and the remaining cardamom sugar.  Arrange the apples in a pie tin and pour the cider around them.  Bake 50 minutes, until soft.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer apples to 4 serving plates.  Transfer the pan juices to a saucepan and boil until reduced slight, 2 minutes.  Pour around the apples.
Serves 4 

Adapted from Radically Simple, by Rozanne Gold, published by Rodale.