Spiced Apple Butter
Post by Molly
As soon as the leaves start turning, I can’t escape my parent’s house without a bursting bag of apples from their tree shoved into my purse. At Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, we spend night after night dunking apples in honey, often ending each meal with a slice of sticky apple-walnut cake. So by the time Halloween rolls around, I’m ready to move on to bigger and better fall fruits; like persimmons, quince, and pears.
But slap the word “butter” onto anything, and I’m interested. Apple butter is a most exquisite transformation of apples – no matter how mealy or bruised – into a silky, delicate puree that feels like a long lost cousin to caramel. Its richness surely makes it a step up from the old peel-back container of apple sauce you used to trade for Doritos at lunch. Best made in a slow cooker, the apples caramelize, giving the butter its signature deep brown color.
In this recipe, I added a variety of earthy spices to balance out the natural sweetness of the apples. I went heavy on the cardamom and black pepper, but you can adjust the flavor to your liking.
This may be the best thing to happen to apples since Basque cider.
Makes: 3 cups of apple butter | Prep: 15 minutes | Cook time: 12 hours | Equipment: slow cooker and immersion blender
WHAT YOU NEED:
- 8-10 apples, cored and cubed
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tablespoon cardamom pods
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 1 teaspoon baharat spice mix
- 1 star anise pod
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup sugar or maple syrup (optional)
WHAT YOU DO:
- Place your cubed apples, spices, and sugar or maple syrup (if using) into the bowl of a slow cooker. If you have a cheesecloth or mesh bag on hand, you can contain your spices there for easy removal later.
- Gently toss ingredients together with a wooden spoon.
- Place lid on slow cooker and turn heat to high.
- After one hour, give the apples a stir, turn heat to low, and let sit for 12 hours, stirring once or twice throughout if possible.
- After 12 hours, check the consistency of your butter. It should be dark brown, and reduced by about two-thirds.
- If the butter is to a consistency of your liking, turn off your slow cooker and puree the butter with an immersion blender. This helps breakdown any remaining apple chunks and skins, and makes for a beautiful, silky consistency.
- Finally, let your apple butter cool, and do your best to remove the whole spices with a slotted spoon.
Apple butter will keep in the fridge for about a month, or up to a year on the shelf if canned properly.