Fall is my all-time favorite season, and while I was smart enough to recognize that the weather was a result of the storm miles and miles away and not a true changing of the seasons, it was still great to think that in a few weeks that type of weather would be here to stay. To further my excitement, the farmer's market had a variety of summer vegetables along with winter squash, garlic, and apples which is a tell-tale sign that fall is almost here.
|Apples my mom gave me- I am not sure of the variety|
Several weeks ago, my parents' apples were ready to be picked. My dad gave me two grocery bags which amounted to about 15 pounds of apples. I decided to make applesauce. We like applesauce with pork and roasts as well as in baking recipes in place of some of the oil. When I got the apples, I started by peeling, coring and quartering them. I put them in a bowl of water mixed with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown as I worked.
|Apples being prepped for sauce|
Once they were all quartered, I put them in a large pot with just enough water to prevent them from sticking to the bottom. They cooked until they were soft and easy to mash with a spoon. Then I pureed them in my food processor until fairly smooth with some small chunks. You could also use a food mill, but I think I told you before that I don't have one. So sad. Anyway, I then sweetened them to my liking using granulated sugar. The apples I had were pretty tart (if anyone knows what type they are, please tell me), so I had to use a good amount of sugar. If your apples are sweeter you can get away with less or even none at all.
I ladled the sauce into jars, but when I had ladled about half of it, I spiced the remaining sauce with cinnamon so that I would have both spiced and unspiced sauce in the cupboard. I will use the unspiced in baking recipes, and the spiced we will eat straight.
|Four unspiced pints and three spiced|
So when the weather became so fall-like yesterday, I got in the mood for apples. I remembered the applesauce, and decided to make the muffins. These muffins are the perfect fall treat. They are spicy, moist, a little nutty (like me), and are topped with a sweet creamy frosting. They are really in between a muffin and a cupcake and could easily pass for either. To begin, you mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, cream some of the butter and sugar in a mixer, and measure out 1 1/2 cups applesauce (you can use store-bought if you don't have homemade).
|Yummy moist muffin being eaten by me|
Applesauce (slightly adapted from the Ball Complete Book)
makes 7-8 pints
12 pounds of apples, peeled, cored, and quartered
(in bowl of water with lemon juice to prevent browning)
water to prevent scorching
2 cups granulated sugar (you can use more or less to suit your taste)
4 tbsp bottled lemon juice
4 tsp cinnamon (if you want to spice the entire batch) or 2 tsp to spice half
Combine the apples with enough water to coat the bottom of a large pot. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Boil until apples are softened and easily mashed with a wooden spoon, 10-20 minutes. Let cool slightly. Place apples in a food processor and process until relatively smooth with just a few small chunks. Return the puree to the pot and sweeten with sugar as desired. The apples I had took 2 cups, but you can use as much or little as you like. Add lemon juice and spices (if using) and bring back to a boil. Ladle sauce into hot sterilized pint jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, adjust headspace, and wipe rims. Top each jar with a sterilized lid and ring and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Leave in canner 5 minutes after processing time. Remove jars to a towel to rest for 24 hours.
Applesauce Muffins (slightly adapted from Martha Stewart Living)
makes 18 muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups homemade or store-bought applesauce (I used homemade)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 18 muffin cups with paper or foil liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, spices, baking soda, and salt and whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer, place 1 stick of butter, 1 cup granulated sugar, and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Mix until blended and creamy. Add eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, mixing on low speed to combine. Add applesauce and flour mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in walnuts.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling them 3/4 of the way. Bake 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool on a wire rack.
While cooling, mix the remaining stick of butter, cream cheese, and 1 cup brown sugar until smooth. Once the muffins are cool, frost with the cream cheese icing. You will probably have extra frosting leftover. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.