Stewed Stuffed Apples in Syrup (Tufahije) is one of the tastiest apple dessert recipes. What is it, you ask? Poached apples, cooked in simple syrup, stuffed with walnuts, and topped with whipped cream for that final touch.
What Is It
Tufahije (sing. tufahija), are delicious stewed apples cooked in sugar syrup and stuffed with a walnut filling. They're among the best Bosnian desserts. In addition to Bosnia and Herzegovina, these stuffed apples are also made and loved in Croatia, Serbia, and North Macedonia.
Fun fact: there is a super slight difference between the desert in the region. Bosnian stewed apples are topped with whipped cream and a walnut half. Meanwhile, in other countries a sour cherry is placed on top instead of the walnut.
This scrumptious dessert was brought to the region by the Ottomans. Some believe this sweet has Persian origins, while the name is rooted in the Arabic word for apples.
Balkan stuffed apples aren't some sort of deconstructed apple pie! In fact, this is a centuries-old sweet that belongs to the same family of simple syrup desserts like baklava. As such, tufahije are a source of local pride.
They're not connected to any specific holiday. Instead, you can find stewed apples in pastry shops throughout the year.
How about them apples? 😂
- Apples: Granny Smith apples are best. Sub with Mutsu (Crispin), Pippin, or if you must Golden Delicious. Avoid: Gala, Fuji or Red Delicious as their water content and sweetness means they fall apart easier. Look for: smaller, younger, harder, and more sour apples.
- Milk: Sub with soy or almond milk. Not a milk person at all? Use simple syrup to mix the stuffing. Any similar liquid that softens walnuts works.
- Walnuts: Sub with almonds or hazelnuts. Note: each nut will change the taste of the dessert.
- Sugar: Sub with honey or brown sugar, but only if you must.
- Toppings: Top stewed apples with whipped cream and walnut halves (or another nut), or sour cherries.
- Spices: Except vanilla, traditionally no other spices go into this dessert. The main attraction is exactly the combo of slightly sour stewed apples cooked in super sweet syrup and then stuffed with softened ground walnuts. However, for that extra winter-y taste you can add a little bit cinnamon to the syrup.
(Our lightning-fast instructions are here to give you an idea of how to make stewed apples. For more detailed information look at the recipe card below!)
- Peel apples. Coat with lemon juice. Keep one peel.
2. Core apples on both ends. Discard seeds and pockets. Keep most apple meat intact. Coat insides with lemon.
3. Repeat for all apples.
4. Combine syrup ingredients. Bring to a boil.
5. Lower temp. Add apples. Cook apples for 5-7 min on one end. Flip, and cook 2-3 min on the other.
6. Transfer stewed apples to a deep pan. Cool. Keep syrup.
7. Cover walnuts with milk.
8. Melt butter and sugar. Whisk into walnuts with milk.
9. Stuff stewed apples generously. Return to pan and pour syrup over them. Keep in the fridge until serving. Top with whipped cream and walnut.
There are two crucial moments to pay extra attention to when making tufahije.
- Coring. Apples should be cored just enough, while leaving plenty of apple meat in tact. Also, it's best not to poke a huge hole all the way through when taking out the insides.
- Cooking. Apples should cook in boiling syrup just enough to be very soft, but not so much that they fall apart. Cooking time will depend on the type of your apples, but generally the entire cooking process shouldn't exceed 14-15 minutes. In fact, for sour apples it will be closer to 10 minutes.
Stewed apples can be kept in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Do not freeze.
Sour apples are sturdier and cook better. Sweeter apples, and those with higher water content (like Fuji), fall apart more quickly when cooked. Also, the taste of slightly sour apples combined with simple syrup and sweetened walnuts is unbeatable!
Yes. Bosnian stewed apples (tufahije) are made with peeled apples that are stewed in simple syrup. You can add peel from one apple to the syrup for that extra apple taste, however.
To hollow, or core, an apple use a corer, knife, or a grapefruit spoon.
Make a circle around the stem, then dig out apple insides, layer by layer. Get rid of seeds (pips), and seed pockets while leaving apples thick and juicy. Then flip them around and remove the bottom-most part with seeds, called calyx.
To prevent the apple from falling apart dig in small motions instead of one or two big scoops. For this stewed apples recipe, it's best if you don't dig a huge hole all the way through, but it's ok if you do.
The color changes to a deeper yellow when apples are done cooking. This only takes 8-12 minutes in boiling water or syrup. Piercing them with a fork easily is another good indicator that the apples are ready. Finally, look for physical manifestations: if it starts to fall apart, pull the apple out right away.
Both involve cooking or simmering food in hot water. Poaching is a lighter version of stewing where the food still keeps its shape. Stewing really softens food to where it kind of falls apart. In today's recipe, we do a little bit of both: apples keep their shape but are softened.
More Sweet Stuff
- Mama’s Chocolate and Walnut Cake
- Walnut Marzipan Squares
- Choco Hazelnut Cake
- Jam Rolls
- No Bake Wafer Cake
- No Bake Walnut Pralines aka Bajadera
- Poppy Seed Roll (Povitica/ Potica)
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Prijatno and bon appetit!
Stewed Stuffed Apples in Syrup (Tufahije)
- 6 apples granny smith*
- ½ lemon juice only
- 2 cups water
- 3 cups sugar
- ½ lemon juice only
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
- 1 apple peel only
- 2 ounces milk hot
- 5 ounces walnuts ground
- 1.5 ounces butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- whipped cream in a can, container, or homemade
- a few walnut halves or sour cherries
- Apples: Peel all the apples first. As soon as each is peeled, coat it with lemon juice to prevent browning. Set peel from one apple aside.
- Hollow (core) the apples out next. Take an apple and using a tool of choice make a circle around the stem. Then dig in, and discard the insides in small digging motions, layer by layer. (To prevent apples from falling apart, dig in several small motions instead of one or two big scoops!) Get all the seeds (pips) and seed pockets out leaving most of the apple meat intact. If you can, don’t drill all the way through. The apples should still be thick and juicy after you core them. Flip the apple around and remove the calyx (bottom most part with seeds), making a tiny hole in the process. Finally, coat apple insides with lemon juice also.*
- Repeat until all the apples are hollowed out.
- Syrup: In a medium sized pot combine sugar syrup ingredients. Stir often and bring to a boil on high.
- Lower temperature to low (or medium, depending on how hot your stove top is running) and add apples. They’ll be about halfway submerged in syrup. Slightly push each one to the bottom until their insides fill up with syrup through the small hole you created when you removed the calyx. Cook them for 5-7 minutes on one side. Then flip them around and cook another 2-3 minutes. Finished apples will turn a deeper yellow, and are easily piereced through with a fork. (If you see signs of apples falling apart, pull them out earlier.)*
- Transfer apples to a deep pan (or bowl), and cool. Keep the syrup.
- Filling: (Done parallel to making syrup) In a medium bowl add walnuts and cover them with milk. Set aside for about 10 minutes, or until walnuts absorb the milk.
- Meanwhile, in a small pan melt butter on low. Add sugar and stir until they incorporate as much as they can. Remove off heat and pour over milk and walnuts. Stir continously until the mixture integrates.
- Assembly: Fill each apple generously with the filling. Return to the deep pan and pour some of the remaining syrup over them (until they’re about ⅓ submerged in it). Keep tufahije in the fridge ready to serve. Transfer remaining syrup in a jar or a container with a lid, and also keep in the fridge. When ready to eat, serve each apple in a dessert bowl, and pour some syrup over it. Finally, top with whipped cream and a walnut half.
- Stewed apples can be kept in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Do not freeze.