2 cups apple cider
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 pinch salt
Heat the oven to 375°F. Pour the cider into a small skillet and bring it to a boil. Continue to boil over medium heat until the liquid reduces by slightly less than half. It should be vaguely syrupy, but it will not be too thick. It will take less time in a skillet than in a saucepan because there is more surface evaporation. Either way, don’t just walk off to another room and leave it—you might set off your smoke alarm if you forget it.
While the cider is reducing, peel the skin from the top third of each apple. Use a melon baller to dig out the apple core, leaving about 1/3-inch of the apple intact at the bottom. Place the apples in a pie pan or baking dish.
Stir the cinnamon, butter and brown sugar into the cider syrup. Pour it into the apple cavities, allowing it to overflow into the baking dish.
Bake the apples for 40 to 50 minutes, until they are pleasantly soft but not collapsing. Baste the apples occasionally in the cider syrup if you happen to think of it, and add more cider if the liquid starts to dry out completely. The exact cooking time depends on the variety and size of the apples—some take longer than others. Serve the apples warm in dessert bowls with the extra syrup spooned over them. If you want to dress them up, drizzle them with some heavy cream, or add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. If any apples are leftover, warm them up for breakfast and eat with yogurt.