1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
2 cups heavy (40%) cream
8 (6- to 8-ounce) baking apples, such as Cortland or Empire
Procedures : Stir together sugar and water in a deep, heavy-bottomed 2- to 3-quart pot. Set over high heat; let cook at a rapid boil for 8 to 10 minutes, without stirring or shaking. When syrup starts to caramelize, swirl the pan to spread the color. The moment it reaches a dark caramel shade, remove the pan from the heat. Using oven mitts or a towel to protect your hands, pour in cream, stirring constantly with a long wire whisk as the caramel bubbles up. When the cream is incorporated and the bubbling has subsided, reheat the sauce just to a boil, still whisking. Remove from heat; let cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Peel and core apples. Slice just enough from the top and bottom of each apple so that it can balance on either side. Arrange the trimmed apples in a roasting pan, deep baking dish or casserole large enough to allow about 1 inch of space between them. The sides of the pan should be higher than the fruit. Pour the sauce over the apples; seal the dish with foil or a tight-fitting ovenproof cover.
Bake for 20 minutes; then remove from oven and uncover dish. Using tongs or two large spoons, gently turn each apple upside-down. Cover; bake 20 minutes more. Turn apples over a second time, cover and bake 10 minutes. Test for doneness by pressing the sides of the apples and piercing with the point of a paring knife. The apples should be tender all the way through, but not mushy. If necessary, bake for a few more minutes.
When apples are done, use a slotted spoon to stand each apple upright in a warm serving bowl. Strain the apple-caramel sauce into a saucepan; simmer over medium heat until juices evaporate and sauce returns to its original consistency. Pour or spoon an equal amount of sauce over each apple; serve immediately.
Yield: 8 servings