Baked Apple Breakfast Parfait
Baked apples are one of my favorite desserts when winter sets in — sweet and warm, they can be truly satisfying on a cold day. I prepared baked apples recently on The Chew and mentioned that there are lots of ways to make the recipe your own, by using different kinds of sweeteners and additions, from maple syrup to pecans to dried apricots. For this version, I've reimagined this traditional dessert as a breakfast dish, slicing the baked apple and then layering it with Greek yogurt, amaranth, and toasted coconut.
Amaranth is a very tiny ancient grain that looks similar to quinoa (see my tips below). It's gluten-free and rich in iron, calcium and fiber. When it's popped in a hot pan, it has a nice crunchy texture — in fact, in Mexico, popped amaranth is mixed with honey, molasses or chocolate for a sweet treat called alegria, which means "joy" in Spanish — so I love the idea of using popped amaranth in this breakfast parfait! Who doesn't want to start the day with a little joy?
1 baking apple, like Empire or McIntosh
1/4 cup brewed tea (ginger tea is a nice choice, but any tea will do)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon maple sugar or brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon dried cranberries
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (or use a soy or almond milk yogurt to make it vegan)
1 heaping tablespoon raw amaranth grains
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
Preheat the oven to 350°. Put the coconut oil, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a small bowl and mix together until blended and creamy. Add the cranberries and walnuts and mix well. Core the baking apple all the way through, then stuff the coconut oil filling into the center of the apple. Place the apple into a small baking dish and put the brewed tea in the bottom of the dish. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until the apple is softened, then remove from oven and allow to cool until barely warm.
To pop the amaranth, heat a saucepan over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles and evaporates in the bottom of the pan (because the amaranth will jump up when it pops, using a saucepan with taller sides is a good idea). Pour in the amaranth grains and shake the pan over the heat slightly while the grains pop — this takes less than a minute. The grains will be white when they pop and there will be a few that will toast to a golden brown. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
Holding the apple on its side, slice the apple into 1/2-inch round slices. Put the bottom slice with its filling into the bottom of a cereal bowl or a Mason jar and top with a spoonful of the yogurt and a big pinch of the puffed amaranth. Keep layering in this way until you add the top apple slice, then pour a little maple syrup over the top and sprinkle with any remaining amaranth and the toasted coconut. This is delicious served immediately but also can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight.
Bakeware provided by Le Creuset.
Carla's Tip: Amaranth sounds fancy, but you can find it at lots of health food and grocery stores, often in the bulk section. Just a small scoop will often cost less than a dollar and a little goes a long way! If you can't find amaranth, simply substitute toasted oats, chia seeds, or even puffed rice cereal.