2 medium apples (about 1 pound any variety), peeled, cored, quartered and thinly sliced

1/3 cup dried cranberries, cherries or raisins

5 tablespoons maple syrup (preferably Grade B), divided

3 tablespoons brandy, bourbon or rum, divided (optional)

1 large egg yolk

1 tablespoon cornstarch

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1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch table salt

2 large egg whites, room temperature

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a 9-inch round shallow baking dish, combine the apples, cranberries, 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup and 2 tablespoons of the brandy, if using. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in the middle of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a paring knife goes through the apples very easily. Remove the apples from the oven and increase the oven heat to 500 degrees.

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2. While the apples are baking, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, remaining 3 tablespoons maple syrup, remaining tablespoon of brandy, the cornstarch, vanilla and salt. Set aside.

3. Once the apples are tender, in another medium bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Stir one-half of the whites into the yolk mixture, then gently but thoroughly fold in the remaining whites. Spread the mixture evenly over the top of the apples.

4. Place the brown sugar in a mesh sieve. Hold the sieve above the egg topping and press the sugar through it to evenly sprinkle it over the topping. Bake the dessert in the top third of the oven until nicely browned, about 2 minutes. Serve right away.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe from Sara Moulton, host of "Sara's Weeknight Meals" on PBS.