April 16, 2016
Now that Fast & Fearless Cooking for the Genius is out there on the market, I'm going to give you the occasional teaser from the book. This is the first one.
I love apple butter. Apple butter is cider and apples cooked down to a paste. Simple. Did you notice that no sugar is added to the fruit and cider? The beauty of apple butter is that its sweetness all comes from apples. No added sugar and no sugar substitute.
At our farmers' market, a young woman sells jars and jars of her homemade pickles, relishes, jams, and jellies. All summer long she preserves the fruits and vegetables as they come ripe, and in the fall she makes apple butter. This is the best apple butter in the whole world, which is of course saying a lot, since I love apple butter, as I believe I've already told you.
Now, I like applesauce. But I don't love it. I add it to baking sometimes as an egg substitute or a fat substitute, but I find it insipid on its own. One day when there was nothing to eat for lunch, I spooned myself a dish of applesauce. But to jazz it up I stirred in a teaspoon of apple butter. Are you kidding!? That was fantastic. I don't know why I'd never thought of it before. The little bit of apple butter sweetened and deepened the flavour of that bland applesauce so much that I have begun using it as a topping for pancakes and toast. Imagine how much longer my market apple butter (which, although it is the best in the world, costs an arm and a leg—with good reason, of course) will last, when I stretch it with applesauce.
I have read cookbooks for years. There aren't many kitchen tricks and hints that I haven't heard of. But I've never seen anyone suggest jazzing up store-bought unsweetened applesauce with apple butter. And here I thought there was nothing new under the sun.
You heard it from me first. Try it: apple-super-sauce.
Emboldened by that success, I moved beyond it. One afternoon I was in the mood for comfort food. In the fridge was a disk of pie crust dough that was burning a hole in my gustatory pocket. In the big fruit bowl were some Northern Spy apples just crying to be turned into a pie.
So I made apple turnovers. But instead of the usual filling, I simply mixed a spoonful of apple-super-sauce into the chunked-up apples. No sugar, no flour, no butter. Just apples and apple-super-sauce. These were the best apple hand-pies (such a trendy name for a turnover!) that I have ever eaten. To curb my seemingly limitless appetite for homemade sweets, I made only three turnovers and shared those even-steven with my husband. Each of us ate one and a half. Had I made six turnovers, as I could have, there's absolutely no doubt that I would have eaten three right off the bat.
So here's the skinny: buy some good, unsweetened applesauce. Then buy some apple butter. If you buy it at the supermarket, be sure to check the label: real apple butter has no sugar in the ingredients list (and obviously no high-fructose corn syrup, either). Use the apple butter to sweeten your applesauce. Mix this with apples for apple pie. I'm thinking it might make a great sugar replacement for pumpkin pie. Maybe even for custard pie. At the very least, I've invented a delicious and healthy pancake topping.