Cooking Up History: Apple de Luxe (1922) | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Cooking Up History: Apple de Luxe (1922)

Cooking Up History: Apple de Luxe (1922) | Wisconsin Historical Society


EnlargeApples with chocolate

Apples de Luxe


Apple de Luxe

EnlargeApple de Luxe Newspaper Recipe

Apple de Luxe Newspaper Recipe


We found this recipe for "Apple de Luxe" in the Manitowoc Pilot (1922). It may seem simple but its ambiguity led us down some serious research rabbit holes.

The recipe starts out with straightforward instructions, "chop finely three-fourths of a cupful of raisins and nuts" but we wanted to make sure we didn’t make any futuristic mistakes right off the bat. Not sure that the variety of nuts available today was very timely, we took a quick look at some newspaper advertisements for local stores during that time period and it assured us that we had nothing to worry about. Walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pecans, hazel and Brazil nuts were available at the time. From an ad in the Baraboo Weekly News, we also learned that hickory nuts and peanuts were considered cheap and, therefore, less desirable. Based on personal taste, we chose a mixture of almonds and pecans.

The next instruction, "wash and core four tart apples of uniform size and shape." According to the Dane County Conservation League, the first commercial apple orchards in Wisconsin were planted in the mid-1800s,  meaning a variety of apples were already available for purchase at the time our recipe was printed. Many Wisconsinites would also have been able to pick apples in their backyard. Since we were baking this outside of apple picking season, we had to settle with whatever tart variety our local grocery store had to offer.




Next up, "put into a baking dish, cover with cold water and bake slowly. Do not let them lose their shape." Once again, the ambiguity of the recipe raised some questions: How much water? Should we completely cover the apples with water? Would that technically boil the apples rather than bake them? What exactly does it mean to bake slowly?

Since we wanted to avoid making apple sauce or soup, we decided to start with a little water – enough to cover the bottom of a glass dish – and add more if needed.

Exact temperatures are rarely stated in recipes during that time, but we often come across the term "slow oven," meaning to bake at a low temperature. We chose 300° F and frequently (every 15 minutes) checked on our apples to "not let them lose their shape" and the water level. After 45 minutes, our apples had arrived at a medium-soft consistency we liked.

EnlargeApples filled with nuts and raisin mixture

Apples filled with nuts and raisin mixture


The next instruction stated to "fill the centers with the chopped mixture and when the apples are cool cover with a powdered sugar frosting flavored with vanilla. When firm and cold coat with chocolate and we have apples Allegretti."

Coming out of the oven, the apples were still sitting in a little bit of water. We transferred them into a dry dish, filled them with the nuts and raisins, and let them cool.

In the meantime, we started addressing the questions the recipe had raised about the toppings: What’s in a common 1922 powdered sugar frosting? What kind of chocolate? How much chocolate? What or who is Allegretti?

EnlargeAllegretti Apples Recipe

Allegretti Apples Recipe


We searched for "Apples Allegretti" in Chronicling America and found a much more detailed recipe in the New York Tribune from 1919 – Yes, it’s not technically a Wisconsin newspaper, but the recipe had actually been sent in from Oshkosh which, in fact, makes it Wisconsin history.

This recipe lists the ingredients for the powdered sugar frosting as 2 whites of egg, 1 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla. We used an electric stand mixer to beat the egg whites and, turns out, electric stand mixers were around in the 1920s. We added the powdered sugar and vanilla and spread it over the apples. Although we had doubts, the frosting became firmer after letting it sit for about 30 minutes. 

The Allegretti Apples recipe also calls for 1 square of chocolate and mentions “bitter chocolate.” But how much exactly is a square of chocolate?

EnlargeAllegretti Chocolate Creams

Allegretti Chocolate Creams


Allegretti was a Chicago chocolate maker, but our search for 1922 Allegretti chocolate square packaging was unsuccessful and we decided to take a look at other American chocolate companies at the time. In 1922, a Hershey’s bar contained 1 3/8 ounces of chocolate so we measured the exact amount of dark chocolate chips. In the end, that turned out to be too little and we tripled the amount.  We melted the chocolate and poured it over the frosted apples.

Things we noticed:

  • Except for the vanilla in the frosting, there are no spices involved. We found it strange to smell baking apples without cinnamon.
  • Be generous when coring the apples. We had a lot of filling leftover and even though the recipe calls for the apples to be cooked without the filling, why not stuff them before they’re baked and add some cinnamon while you’re at it?
  • The powdered sugar frosting with egg whites was not everybody’s cup of tea and could be dropped.
  • Overall, Society staff enjoyed the afternoon treat from 1922.
Enlarge2020 Recipe Ingredients

2020 Recipe Ingredients


The Recipe in 2020:

Apples de Luxe

  • 4 apples (e.g. Cortland, Jonathan)
  • ½ cup water


  • ¼ cup almonds
  • ¼ cup pecans
  • ¼ cup raisins


  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 oz. dark chocolate

Chop finely ¾ cup of raisins and nuts. Wash and core four tart apples of uniform size and shape. Put into a baking dish with water (enough to cover the bottom of the dish), and bake for about 45 minutes at 300° F. Do not let them lose their shape. Fill the centers with the chopped mixture and when the apples are cool, cover with a powdered sugar frosting flavored with vanilla (beat egg whites until stiff, fold in powdered sugar and vanilla). When firm and cold coat with melted chocolate and we have apples Allegretti.