Nuts and cranberries fill these simple baked apples that cook in your slow-cooker. Top them with Sea Salt Caramel Sauce and, if you like, a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Core apples; peel a strip from the top of each apple. Place apples, top sides up, in a 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker. (If necessary, trim apples so they will sit on the bottom of the cooker.)
In a small bowl, combine cranberries, walnuts and brown sugar. Spoon mixture into centers of apples, patting in with a knife or narrow metal spatula. Combine apple cider, lemon zest and lemon juice and pour around apples in cooker. Add stick cinnamon to liquid. Top each apple with a piece of butter.
Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 5 hours or on high-heat setting for 2 1/2 hours.
For sauce: In a heavy small saucepan, bring the 1/3 cup brown sugar, whipping cream, butter and corn syrup to boiling over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally; reduce heat to medium. Boil gently, uncovered, for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and sea salt. Cool to room temperature before serving, or chill for up to 24 hours and rewarm in the microwave on 50 percent power (medium) for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes before serving, stirring twice.
To serve, transfer warm apples to dessert dishes. Spoon some of the cooking liquid from cooker over apples. Serve with Sea Salt-Caramel Sauce and, if you like, ice cream.
For a quicker sauce, just stir together 1/2 cup caramel-flavored ice cream topping and 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt in a small saucepan and warm through before serving.