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Roasted Apples with Hazelnut, Bitter Chocolate, and Lemon Zest

From the book Cooking with Italian Grandmothers by
Serves 6


Proud and compact, Mamma Maria and her involtini provided the inspiration for these plump filled apples. I developed this recipe to suit many varieties of apples, though my preference is to use a tart fruit such as the Granny Smith. These are the most delicious roasted apples I have eaten, with the bitter chocolate (typical of northern Italy) and lemon zest adding depth and brightness. I recommend using a chocolate with 80 percent cocoa content for this recipe.



6 firm baking apples (such as Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Crispin, or Pippin)
¼ cup sugar, divided
¼ cup (½ stick) soft unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
2 tsp. finely grated or minced lemon zest
cup finely chopped toasted hazelnuts
2 oz. (⅓ cup) chopped dark chocolate (I use 80 percent cocoa content)
cups sweet Marsala wine, divided

Garnish (optional)

~ Softly whipped heavy cream, unsweetened


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a small baking dish, roughly 8 by 10 inches.
  2. Slice a thin layer off the bottom of the apples and discard; this levels the apples out so that they have a stable base upon which to stand during roasting. Slice ½ inch off the tops of the apples, and set the tops to one side. Peel the apple bases. Then, using a small teaspoon, scrape out an inch-diameter core from each apple, making sure not to cut through the bottom.
  3. Mix together 3 tablespoons of the sugar with the butter, lemon zest, hazelnuts, and chocolate. Spoon this filling into the center of the apples, mounding any extra on top. Drizzle the exposed apples with the ¾ cup of the Marsala, and cover them with their tops. Pour the rest of the Marsala over the apples and sprinkle them with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, basting the apples with the hot Marsala a few times during their roasting. The apples are done when a toothpick can be inserted into them easily. Serve warm, with Marsala spooned over the apples and whipped cream on the side.

Related article: Cooking with Italian Grandmothers

This content is from the book Cooking with Italian Grandmothers by Jessica Theroux.

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