Impossible Caramel Apple Butter

There are two ways to do this recipe, and I’m typing up the methodology for both.  Go crazy, or go easy.  Your choice!

 

(These are not the jars you’re looking for.)

In it’s most basic form, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Applesauce (instructions for homemade below)

Caramels (instructions for homemade below)

Brown sugar

Cardamom

Cinnamon

Sea Salt

A small post-it note to stick on the fridge to remind yourself:  This is so worth it.

The first time I made this, I made the applesauce and the salted caramels from scratch.  The end result is decadent and amazing and so, so worth the insane effort, especially if you’re giving it away as gifts (as I will be.)  You could vary this up in a number of ways, such as using store-bought applesauce or caramels and shorten your time significantly.

So, onto the applesauce.  I used a peck of apples, half Jonathan and half McIntosh.  I peeled them (leaving them in lemony water as I peeled and peeled and peeled,) quartered and cored them, and dumped them into the crock pot with about 2 cups of water.  I put it on high and walked away, coming back every couple hours to stir the pot.  In about 6 hours, I had recognizable apple sauce that I quickly strained through cheesecloth (SAVE this juice!) and ran a hand blender through.  If you have a food mill or fancy-pants sieve, you could just dump your apples—skins and all—into the crock pot, strain it and voila!  More timesaving.  I’ll all about the timesaving.

In the above paragraph, I jokingly mention that you can walk away.  That is a complete and total lie.  You can abandon the pot, but not the kitchen.  The decadence is yet to come.

There are caramels to make.

More specifically, there are David Lebovitz caramels to make.  Check out his recipe for Salted Caramels here (or use your own recipe, or buy some caramels.)  Whatever your poison, try and limit yourself to just two or three samples.  You’re going to need most of the caramels for the next part.

Cheat: The base recipe that I used for methodology says to use about 40 caramels if you’re buying the storebought, wrapped cubes.  I’ve read of several people that used double that, and I highly recommend using as much as you can stand.  Following David Lebovitz’s recipe above, but pouring my caramel into a 9×13 pan (for cooling purposes,) I used about 2/3 of the resultant candy for the apple butter.  The rest went missing.

So, applesauce in hand and caramels cooling, the sauce goes back into the crock pot where it’ll cook for 4-6 MORE hours, this time with the lid off, but still on high.  Add cardamom, brown sugar and cinnamon to taste.  If you went with store-bought caramel, add sea salt.  Stir frequently, scraping the sides and trying to keep things smooth.  If your crock pot runs hot, don’t be afraid to turn down the heat.  Adjust your time accordingly.

You’ll know when it’s apple butter if you’ve ever eaten it.  If you haven’t, get thee to WholePaycheck and try some where before embarking on this insane recipe.

So, apple butter and cooled caramels.  Combine in the crock pot, and stir and stir and stir until the caramel re-melts.  Divide into hot jars and put it in the fridge for several hours.

I didn’t can my first batch, because all that work and all those apples only generated 2 pints of completed apple butter.  However, for the second batch (and 3x as many apples) I’ll be canning it in a water bath for 10 minutes in half-pint jars.

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