6 baking apples (like Empire, Rome, Idared, Stayman, Mutsu, Jonagold or another tart, firm-fleshed apple)
6 tsp maple syrup or honey
1⁄3 cup brown sugar
2⁄3 cup raisins
2 cups apple cider, juice, or water
2 tsp cinnamon
6 Tbsp butter
Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Using an apple corer or a small paring knife, core several large baking apples. Make sure not to pierce straight through the apple—aim to leave at least ¾ inch of flesh at the bottom.
With a knife or a vegetable peeler, peel a ring around the opening at the top of each apple.
Using the tip of a sharp knife, pierce the apples shallowly several times around their circumference.
Place the apples in as small a baking pan, fitting them in as snugly as possible without letting them touch.
Pour a teaspoon of maple syrup or honey into the cavity of each apple, and then stuff with a mixture of about 2 parts raisins to 1 part brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon.
Pour apple cider, juice, or water over each apple until it overflows a bit into the pan. Then finish each apple with a teaspoon of butter atop the raisins and brown sugar.
Place baking pan in oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until the apples are tender but not mushy, making sure to periodically baste the apples with juices from the pan (or with more cider) after 20 minutes.
When the apples are done, remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
Serve with a scoop of ice cream, if desired.