Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cranberry Applesauce

I made this cranberry applesauce the other night for several reasons: 1) The lonely bag of cranberries hanging out in my fridge from all those long-forgotten Christmas desserts I had planned on making 2) The eternal craving for something sweet 3) The seemingly eternal lack of a working oven and 4) Homemade applesauce is just doggone delicious.

Seriously, if you’ve never made applesauce you should really give it a try. It’s super easy and it tastes so much better than the jarred versions. Plus you get to control what you put in it which I love because I tend to find that store-bought applesauce tastes much sweeter than I would prefer. I also like to think that decreasing the sugar makes this a healthier snack which makes me feel better about consuming a large amount of it. I love the tartness that the cranberries bring to this dish, but if you’re not a fan of tart flavors you may want to increase the amount of sugar. Make sure to taste as you go and add more sugar if necessary. One of the most important tips in cooking is to taste as you go. It’s a good idea to get in the habit of doing this with anything that you are making. If something tastes off at an early stage in the recipe, you want to fix it before you get too far along. This technique also helps develop a stronger palate as you constantly taste how a dish can be elevated by the addition of different flavors.
Ok, so the finished applesauce may photograph a bit, odd. Kind of like a bowl of something disgusting, but trust me that it’s delicious. I should mention that I’m a fan of a more rustic-style applesauce which is why you can see there are still chunks of apple in it. That’s just my personal preference though. If you like a smoother apple sauce, go ahead and either puree it in a food processer or blender, or run it through a food mill. You can also use a potato masher which will leave it a little chunky, or just mash the apples slightly with the back of a wooden spoon which is what I did.

I like to eat the sauce straight from the pan while it’s still warm, which may seem a little odd, but I think is delicious. It’s probably just because I’m an impatient eater. But I also think there is something homey and comforting, especially in the winter, about eating a big bowl of warm, spiced apples. If you have stronger willpower you can wait for it to cool. It keeps well for several days in the fridge and is a great snack to have hanging around.

Cranberry Applesauce

Adapted from Cooking Light

2 cups fresh cranberries
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
1/3 cup water
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch fresh grated nutmeg
3 lbs apples*, peeled, cored and cubed

Combine cranberries and next 5 ingredients in a large pot; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil until cranberries start to pop, about 3 minutes.

Add apples to pot. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes until the apples are soft. Uncover, bring to a boil, and cook for 15 more minutes. Mash apple mixture (see above notes). Cover and chill, or eat straight from the pot.

*Any apples will work; I like to combine a few different varieties.

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