1. Soak beans according to either method in Basic Beans. Drain and rinse and set aside.
2. In slow cooker stoneware, combine beans, onions, celery, carrots, parsnips, garlic, chili powder, salt, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, apple cider, water and maple syrup. Cover and cook on Low for 10 to 12 hours or on High for 5 to 6 hours, until beans are tender.
3. In a bowl, combine dissolved cornstarch with 2 tbsp (25 mL) hot cooking liquid from beans and stir until smooth. Gradually add up to ¼ cup (50 mL) hot bean liquid, stirring until mixture is smooth. Return mixture to stoneware and stir well until sauce thickens.
Cider Baked Beans with Bread Crumb Topping:
Preheat broiler. After beans are cooked, ladle them into individual heatproof tureens or a baking dish. In a bowl, combine 1 cup (250 mL) dry bread crumbs with ¼ cup (50 mL) each melted butter and finely chopped parsley. Sprinkle over beans and place under broiler until topping is lightly browned and beans are bubbling.
Cider Baked Beans with Caramelized Apples:
Thanks to Cinda Chavich for this idea. When beans are almost cooked, peel and core 4 apples, then slice them vertically into thin slices. In a skillet, over medium heat, melt 3 tbsp (45 mL) butter. Add ¼ cup (50 mL) brown sugar and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add apple slices and stir to coat with sugar mixture. Add ¼ cup (50 mL) rum. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, turning, until the liquid evaporates and the apples are tender. Arrange apple slices on top of beans, cover and cook on High for 1 hour.