12 ounces fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
12 medium, tart baking apples, such as Golden Delicious
4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
Adjust rack to the middle position and heat oven to 400.
Combine cranberries, sugar, water, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Stir often to incorporate sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick.
While cranberry sauce is reducing, slice off and discard top ¼ inch of apples. Use melon baller to core apples; keep bottoms intact. To help apples maintain their shape while baking, use the tip of a paring knife to cut a shallow line around the circumference of apples. Place apples in a 9 inch x 13 inch baking dish. Melt butter over low heat and pour ½ teaspoon butter in each cored apple, then fill with cranberry sauce. Drizzle remaining butter on top.
Bake apples on middle rack. After 20 minutes, top apples with more cranberry sauce and rotate pan in oven. Bake apples until tender when pierced with a toothpick, about 45 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to dinner plates.