Vanilla Bourbon Applesauce

 
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Hints of cinnamon and vanilla complemented with a splash of bourbon make this applesauce decadent enough to serve as dessert, yet it's nutritious and totally acceptable to eat for breakfast. 

I have a soft spot in my heart for fall.  Sure, I'm sad to see summer go (and always a little scared about the inevitable dreary, dark, and cold days coming for us in New England), but I welcome a reason to get back in the kitchen. It feels good to trade quick dinners on the grill, fresh tomato salads, and rosé on the porch with slower cooked meals on the stove and roasted heartier vegetables while sipping a bold glass of red wine.  

I'm a big believer in seasonal eating. It's when the food tastes the best and offers the most nutrition. As I pick the last of my garden tomatoes and eggplants (summer really held on this year!), I'm ready to transition into the flavors of fall. It doesn't get much more quintessential New England-fall than apples, freshly picked from the tree (followed by eating an apple cider donut, of course). Sure, you can pretty much get apples year-round in the grocery store these days, but this is the best time of year to eat them.

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If you find yourself, like I do, with pounds upon pounds of apples, I highly recommend you make this applesauce. There are so many delicious ways to savor the fruit of this season, but homemade applesauce is a fall staple in my house.  This recipe is simple, yet it feels like you made something special. An added bonus is that it makes your house smell of cinnamon and apples - what could be better? The best part about this recipe is it's so easy to make (and almost as hard to mess up). I promise, you won't want the store-bought stuff ever again. 

A few notes: 

  1.  I leave the peel on the apples. It's where most of the fiber is (making this more nutritious and filling than your typical applesauce) and I like the texture of having a little bit of something to chew. If that's not your thing, feel free to peel the apples. Your cooking time may be a little less so keep a closer eye on pot. 
  2. Don't stress about quantities here. This is one of those super flexible recipes and being exact with your measurements it not necessary. 
  3. This is not the place to use the fancy bourbon. I used Kirkland brand from Costco, but any brand will do. 

 

Vanilla Bourbon Apple Sauce

Makes 12-14 servings

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  • 7-8lbs apples*

  • Approximately 1 cup of water 
  • 2 tsp bourbon vanilla extract such as this one (or regular vanilla extract)
  • A big splash (about 3 Tbsp.) of bourbon
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon, plus more for serving (optional).

Instructions: 

  1. Roughly chop apples into 1-inch pieces. 
  2. Add chopped apples and water to a large soup/stock pot or dutch oven. Cover and cook over medium-high heat until water starts to boil, then turn down to medium-low and let simmer until apples begin to soften, approximately 20 minutes. Stir occasionally so apples cook evenly. 
  3. When apples start to soften, add vanilla extract, bourbon, and cinnamon. Stir again and let simmer uncovered for another 10-15 minutes so some of the liquid begins to evaporate. 
  4. When apples are very soft, mash with a potato masher or large wooden spoon. If liquid remains, let simmer a little longer until it's the desired consistency. 
  5. Sprinkle additional cinnamon if desired. 

Serve warm as a side or dessert or chill in refrigerator and enjoy on top of plain yogurt, oatmeal, or overnight oats. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or the freezer for up to 2-3 months. 

*Any type of juicy apples will work well here, but avoid anything too tart like pink lady or granny smith unless you prefer your applesauce on the tart side. I used a mix of honeycrisp and Fuji this time, but have made it with macoun, empire, or cortland as well.