Maple Bourbon Apple Butter
There are moments in life when you just have to give up and let someone else take care of you. I’m not good at this. I’m the nurturer, the mom, the wife and the cook. I am uncomfortable with letting others do things for me. What’s strange is that I actually LOVE it; I just always feel like I’m being rude, or inconsiderate or lazy. So, when I found the need to drive myself to the emergency room at 5:00AM last Monday I had a moment when I knew, with surprising clarity, that even though I was in excruciating pain, I would enjoy giving in and lying down. Clearly I needed it. At that point I had three sleepless nights under my belt and a pain in my stomach significantly more painful than the first several stages of labor. I wanted nurses to take care of me and doctors to tell me what I needed, instead of me telling others what they needed. More than anything I wanted a strong hospital-strength pain-killer.
My husband and I have so much loving support from both sets of parents that I rarely have a moment that I do not have babysitting coverage, even if just to get my hair cut or meet up with a friend. Finding even one day in a calendar year that both sets of grandparents are unavailable is rare. Of course, that unusual alignment of the planets was the moment when my gall-less gallbladder insisted on removal. The whole ordeal was bizarre, fast and now thankfully over. A happily married wife and doting mother rarely finds herself alone in a hospital undergoing surgery. By the time I left the hospital the next morning, my spectacular husband (and uber-dad) was again by my side, and a grandparent was again watching the children.
Now I’m back at home with a ultra low-fat diet and the inability to pick up the twins to remind me of my ordeal. My body seems to heal quickly, for which I am grateful. I have super-hubby at my side, doing even more than his usual chores. People keep telling me to take it easy and rest, and I’m doing a terrible job at listening to them. Right now I’m trying to eat healthy low-fat comfort food. My plans for an old-fashioned fried apple fritter recipe are on hold for this year, but my week full of apple posts are already in full swing. The other day (four days later than planned), I posted my basic applesauce recipe. That recipe is the cornerstone for so many other recipes including this Maple Bourbon Apple Butter.
Apple butter falls squarely into the range of my low-fat comfort food cravings. A spoonful of it smeared on morning toast makes butter obsolete. Another spoonful stirred into pancake and waffle batter can reduce the amount of oil and eggs needed in the recipe. Muffins, breads, and even stews are all better with a little apple butter. It lends sweetness, acidity, spice and moisture to almost any recipe you dare toss it into.
This apple butter starts with unsweetened applesauce. Instead of trying to keep a pot of apple butter from burning on the stove, I opt for a slow cooker. Many people love using an oven for apple butter, but a slow cooker will not heat up the house. Your house will smell really great while this is cooking too. Sort of like an apple orchard and an apple pie at the same time. The bourbon gives the apple butter a heady richness that is not easily identifiable, but does make this apple butter stand out from the store-bought variety. After hours of cooking, I suspect that no alcohol remains in the finished product, but it is certainly optional as well.
Why aren’t we eating more apple butter? The Amish and the Pilgrims ate it, your grand mother probably made it. Why don’t you? It’s good; really good. It’s full of flavor, texture and mouth feel. It’s a really great breakfast spread. It makes a good popover a religious experience. You need to trust me on this. Enjoy!
Yield: about 4 cups
This wonderful spread will start your day off with a bright burst of flavor. Sweet and only slightly tart, it elevates popovers to a new level and is wonderful added to pancake or waffle batter. The bourbon lends a richness to the finished apple butter without tasting of liquor.
6 cups unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup bourbon
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Combine all of the ingredients in a slow cooker set to high. Once an hour stir the apple butter scraping down all the sides and bottom of the slow cooker. Repeat this process for 4-5 hours or until the mixture is very thick and dark. To tell when the apple butter is done, drop a small spoonful of it on a plate and wait a minute or two. When the apple butter is done, a liquid ring will no longer ooze to the outside of the drop of apple butter; it will stay solid. Store in the refrigerator. Or, to can, carefully pour into in sterilized jars and process for ten minutes in a hot water bath.