Homemade Chunky Applesauce

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I am a HUGE fan of apples and I love to eat them every which way from Sunday. Raw, sliced on a ham sandwich, cooked alongside pork or chicken, on top of a fall salad, in cakes and cookies and as good old-fashioned applesauce. Apples are such a delicious and versatile fruit, the possibilities for using them up are simply endless. This is my favorite recipe for homemade applesauce because it’s not only scrumptious but it’s SO easy to prepare, it practically makes itself! It’s so easy that even your kids can help you make it!

I love to use a variety of different apples so that I get a more complex and interesting flavor. Some of my favorites are Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Pink Lady , McIntosh, and Lemonade apples. Of course you can use just one variety but don’t be afraid to try out different combinations as well. Traditionally applesauce has a smooth consistency however, I really love to bite into and taste the fresh apples so I like to keep my applesauce chunky. A simple potato masher is perfect for making chunky applesauce as it allows you to control the consistency to your liking. If you prefer a smooth applesauce, simply run the cooked apples through a food mill or blend using an immersion blender or countertop blender.

Last note, feel free to adjust how much sugar you use in this recipe. You can increase, decrease or eliminate it entirely depending on the level of sweetness you prefer. You can also adjust the spices as well. I tend to go light on the ginger because it can be an overpowering, bold flavor but if you prefer to use more, go for it! You can even substitute the ginger for apple pie spice, baking spice or any other warm fall spices that you may have handy. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 12 medium-sized apples, any baking variety such as Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, McIntosh, etc.
  • 3 tbs apple cider or apple juice
  • 3 tbs unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger

Instructions

Peel, core and dice the apples into large chunks.

Place the apples, cider, butter, brown sugar and spices into a large pot. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30-40 minutes or until apples are tender.

For a smooth applesauce – Blend using either a food mill, blender or immersion blender to desired consistency.

For a chunky texture – Use a handheld potato masher to mash the apples to desired consistency.

Autumn Spice Oatmeal Cookies

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Squeal!!! Sally McKenny has a brand new cookbook, Sally’s Cookie Addiction: Irresistible Cookies, Cookie Bars, Shortbread, and More, and to my delight, there was an outstanding recipe for Autumn Spice Oatmeal Cookies. (page 42) There isn’t one word in that title that doesn’t make me happy. Let me repeat: AUTUMN SPICE OATMEAL COOKIES!! What’s better than fall spices, oatmeal, and cookies??!! I’ll tell you, not much!

Due to my high blood sugars, I’ve been hesitant to bake much lately but I really couldn’t resist these cookies so I decided to go ahead and make them. I thought it was good opportunity to try and turn them into a treat that was a touch healthier and lower in sugar so that I could enjoy them too. I followed the recipe as written making only a few substitutions with regards to the ingredients. First, I substituted the granulated sugar with Truvia Baking Blend Natural Sweetener in order to cut down on the calories. Be aware that Truvia® does NOT measure one-to-one with granulated sugar so it’s imperative that you adhere to the conversion chart that is printed on the side of the bag.

I also cut down the molasses from 1 tbs to only 1/2 tbs, I felt that using a little less would still impart the molasses flavor while lessening the overall calorie and sugar count. Instead of sweetened coconut I used unsweetened as it allowed the texture of the cookie to remain the same without adding the extra sugar. In place of ordinary dried cranberries I used  Ocean Spray Reduced Sugar Craisins Dried Cranberries  which again saved on calories and sugar. Lastly, I eliminated the pepitas that were called for (simply because I do not like them) and instead, I added half of a finely diced Granny Smith apple to the cookie dough. I adore apples and I thought it would be a perfect addition to these fall inspired cookies.

The cookies were fabulous and were everything you want a fall cookie to taste like. They were chewy, delicious, and bursting with flavor. The best part was that the substitutions I made resulted in an excellent cookie and I certainly did not miss anything by reducing the sugars where I was able to. Of course, these still need to be enjoyed in moderation but it’s nice to know that when a sweet craving hits, I have something on hand that I can eat with minimal guilt.

**I listed to ORIGINAL recipe below noting my substitutions in the parenthesis.**

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (OR 1/8 cup Truvia Baking Blend)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tbs unsulphured or dark molases (OR 1/2 tbs)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup dark or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut (OR shredded unsweetened coconut)
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries (OR Craisins Reduced Sugar Dried Cranberries)
  • 1/2 cup pepitas
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, finely diced (optional)

Instructions

Whisk the flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat on medium-high until creamed, about 2 minutes. Add in the eggs, molasses, and vanilla. Beat on high speed until combined, scrape down the sides as needed.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. With the mixer on low, beat in the oats. Once combined, fold in the chocolate chips, coconut, cranberries, and pepitas or apples if using them. The dough will be thick and sticky. Cover and chill the dough in the fridge for at least 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Scoop balls of dough, about 2 tbs each, onto the baking sheets, spacing them about 2″ apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. The centers will still look a little soft.

Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

**Tip – The cookies will stay fresh for up to a week when stored in an airtight container**