September 20, 2010

Orange-Vanilla Spiced Applesauce

I  hate that everything you buy at the grocery has tons of sugar added. Drives me nuts. It means I have to wash the sugar coating off dried cranberries before I use them, and it leads me to do things like stand in a crowded condiment aisle, muttering angrily to myself about how I guess I'll have to learn to make my OWN damn ketchup.

This is misleading

And this no-sugar added nonsense is no better. Calorie free marshmallow topping? Not natural. Full disclosure: I eat dessert every single day. Sometimes I literally eat dessert for dinner (seems efficient, no?). I cook with things like cream, butter, and chocolate, and I shamelessly lick beaters without even scraping them first. But. I do not like for my desserts to masquerade as health food. It's confusing, and it creeps me out. Similarly, no matter how hard woman's  magazines insist that it's true, apple slices do not quell cravings for chocolate ice cream . Let's just accept that dessert and health foods are two separate things (frozen bananas are a different story, but we'll come back to that another day).

Can we be friends? Maybe without Katie bitching about it?

That said, this applesauce is healthy enough to have with breakfast, and decadent enough that it could probably pass for dessert. I don't know where it's been all my life. The unexpected combination of maple syrup and orange zest/ juice make it rich without weighing the dish down.

This original recipe is called Apple Pie Applesauce, but I made some minor tweaks that pushed mine out of what I would call pie territory (which sounds like somewhere I would love to live). I increased the amount of orange, which really brightened up the taste, adding a touch of summer to what would have otherwise been a perfect fall dish (technically, I left the amount of orange the same while scaling the rest of the recipe down). I swapped some of the syrup for a touch of dark brown sugar, which adds an almost buttery richness to anything it touches. A bit of vanilla just seemed to make sense.

Everything about this makes sense.

Orange-Vanilla Spiced Applesauce
Adapted just slightly from

I used Fuji apples, but really only because they were the only ones left at the grocery store that didn't specifically warn against using for sauce. Beyond that, I have no apple recommendations. The original suggests Jonathan or Macintosh.

The original also suggests serving this warm with a pat of butter, which is brilliant and delicious! 

3 pounds apples
1/8 cup pure maple syrup (REAL maple syrup! You'll regret it if you cheap out on this!)
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar (light or a touch more syrup would work fine)
2 inch piece orange zest (use a vegetable peeler to peel off a very thin strip. Avoid the white pith, which is bitter)
juice of half an orange
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Peel, core, and chop apples. In a large pot, combine all ingredients. Set over medium high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. They're done cooking when they get translucent and soft (think easily cut in half with the spatula or spoon soft). Mash it up a bit with a masher or fork, or I'm sure you could run it through a food processor for a smoother applesauce. 


  1. this is great! i love it. i had the running blog for a little bit, and then i tried to revisit it to be a blog about my life, but that was boring. i like your angle :-).
    real maple syrup is something that i will never, ever compromise on. i take it very seriously and am happy to learn that you do too.
    have you looked into organic ketchup? organic condiments cost a bit more, but having like 3 ingredients makes it worth it.

  2. woohooo!! i thank you much. And, also realize how hard it is to actually keep up blogging. i have to get more strict about it, even though i'm fairly certain i'm writing for maybe 2 people. hahahaah.

  3. Yay, I'm glad you guys like it! Especially considering you were my main inspiration.

    Mary- I actually thought of you when I wrote that, so I'm glad you saw it :-) Also, I liked that blog, because it was pretty much exactly what my OWN running blog would have been for those months.

    Megan- I'm glad you understand my negligence. I figure I'll try to post once a week. I cook (really cook) at least that often, anyway, and it's a great reminder to try new things! Not to mention a great excuse to not do homework for a couple hours! Aaaand you two are officially the two people I'M writing for, and I'm going to officially consider us successful bloggers.

  4. Also, fyi, we were left with a bowl full of six apples worth of peels, which we snacked on for a while before popping them in the oven on low heat with a bit of dark brown sugar. I wouldn't say they were quite apple chips at the end, but they made for a delicious snack in class today.

    Also, they look weird, so they were a conversation-starter, too!

  5. a rebuttal to your "no-sugar added" hating tendencies:

    1) Splenda
    2) NSA NesQuik
    3)Diet Pepsi
    4) NSA chocolate pudding cups
    5) NSA fudgesicles
    6) NSA hard candies

    i'm not saying it's not usually gross. i'm just saying that sometimes it's delicious.