Goat Cheese Stuffed Apples
w/ Chili Spiced Pistachios and Balsamic Glaze
Finding joy in the little moments during the holiday season is what it’s all about. And when these little Fuji apples make their way to my grocery store each winter I get all giddy inside. Their cuteness just speaks to my soul. The perfection of something so tiny yet packed with as much flavor as a regular sized apple reminds me why I fell in love with cooking – the surprises you discover along the way when you discover new ingredients. Who knew these little beauties even existed? Not me at least until a couple of years ago. Maybe they are a new hybrid or maybe I just had my blinders on all these years before. Whatever the reason I just had to find a reason to use them on my holiday table this year when I spotted them – practically calling my name- perched on the produce table in a square carton, surrounded by the pears and mandarins.
I toyed with the idea of baking them and serving them as warm goat cheese stuffed apples. That might not be a bad way to go, too, and one for another blog post. But in the end I was craving the crisp, sweet satisfying crunch that can only be realized with a perfectly ripe, raw apple. As well, my idea was to use this as part of a cheese plate or charcuterie board appetizer as the ‘fresh fruit’. Often times in the winter I’ll used grapes and dried apricots and sometimes sliced pear alongside fresh cheeses and nuts and salami. This is a cute and inventive way to add both cheese, nuts and fruit into one bite.
You can easily adjust this recipe up or down according to how many ‘bites’ you are making. One per person is a good estimate, especially if serving with other cheeses and meats. And you can buy honey goat cheese, which is delicious and pretty readily available these days, but it’s a bit more expensive and I happened to have a nice log of regular goat cheese in my fridge so I just added in the honey flavor. The tang of the goat cheese against the sweetness of honey is a classic and well-loved combination. Then the zing of the citrus adds just a bit of acid for the perfect balance.
As always I’m looking for do-ahead steps when entertaining. You can make the goat cheese filling hours ahead and cover and store. You can even go as far as stuffing the apples an hour ahead or so and refrigerate. But don’t add the nuts until you are ready to serve as they will get a bit soft in the fridge and lose their crunch. The balsamic drizzle will absorb into the apples quickly too so that’s a last minute finesse, too! But otherwise this dish is so easy. If you don’t like spiced pistachios then regular ones will be just as yummy.
Happy Holidays everyone. And cheers to the little moments…..
Step by Step
A few simple ingredients makes an amazing small bite….
Already shelled chili roasted pistachios and store bought, good-quality balsamic reduction makes this dish really quick and easy to pull off.
Make the goat cheese mixture
Place softened (room temperature) goat cheese in a medium bowl and add lemon zest.
Add the honey and lemon juice and salt.
Use a rubber spatula to combine. Mixture is ready to scoop into the apples or cover and refrigerate for later.
Prepare the Apples
Slice the top 1/4 of the apple off, leaving as much of the apple as you can to scoop and fill. Save the tops for presentation
*Note: Apples will start to brown if not filled right away so only do this step when ready to serve or ready to fill and store. To preserve apples and keep from browning rub with lemon juice.
Use a pairing knife to slice around the core and gently scoop out the core being careful not to break the apple. A demitasse spoon helps. Also, flip the apple over and remove just the bit of core on the bottom. Try not to leave a big hole so the filling doesn’t leak out.
Scooped out apple. I actually try to get even a little more of the flesh out to leave more space for the yummy filling.
Fill the apple with the goat cheese in even amounts starting with about a teaspoon then going back around until all the honey-goat cheese mixture is evenly distributed.
Roughly chop pistachios
Place nuts on each apple and place on a platter.
- 8 mini Fuji (or other variety) apples
- 2 1/2 ounces goat cheese (softened a bit at room temp)
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 2 Tbsp. chili roasted or regular pistachios
- Balsamic reduction
- In a medium bowl add the goat cheese, lemon zest, honey, lemon juice and salt. Mix to combine. Set aside or refrigerate for later use.
- Cut the top 1/4 inch off the apples. Score the inside core with a pairing knife. Scoop out the core. Flip the apple over and remove any bit of core from the bottom of the apple as well.
- Spoon goat cheese and honey mixture into the apples about a teaspoon at a time until evenly distributed.
- Roughly chop pistachios. Place apples on platter and top with pistachios. Sprinkle a few extra around the serving platter. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and serve.