This week's recipe comes from the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook (Little, Brown), a BookPage favorite for its "cozy comfort food." This recipe is not only delicious, it will make your house smell delicious, too.

Homemade Caramelized Applesauce

makes 4 servings (2 to 2½ cups)

Once you taste our applesauce, you’ll never go back to the bland, yellow storebought stuff . For the best sauce, be discriminating about your apples. If they’re too sweet — for instance, a Delicious, Fuji, or Jonagold — your sauce may turn out, well, too sweet. Granny Smiths are excellent because they impart a tartness to the sauce and balance out the sugar, vanilla, butter, and cinnamon. Of course, local varietal apples are the best: ask your farmer for a hard, tart, cooking variety, and you will be sure to have a chunky, rich sauce.


6 medium Granny Smith apples
1 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon (1 to 2 tablespoons)
Juice of 1 lemon

Note: The applesauce will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge in a covered jar. At home, we spoon it into hot oatmeal for a delicious breakfast treat.


  1. Peel and core the apples. Cut them into 2-inch chunks. Place the apples in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients. The sugar will dissolve when heated.

  2. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. The apples will fall apart and the ingredients will start to melt into a thick apple soup. Cook down over high heat, about 30 to 40 minutes. Do not stir until the water has evaporated and the sugar turns into a brown film, caramelizing on the bottom of the pan (see photo). This caramelization is your indication to lower the flame to medium-low. Now stir and turn over the apples a few times to create a new crust.

  3. Each time the bottom of the pan becomes caramelized, stir the sauce. Continue to use a spoon (wooden is best) to break up the apples.

  4. The applesauce is done when the apples are cooked through and little chunks remain. The sauce will be a deep caramel color. This will take about another 25 to 30 minutes.

  5. Remove the cinnamon sticks before serving, or keep them in for a rustic look.


Recipe reprinted from Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook, copyright 2010 by Little, Brown, with permission. All rights reserved. Read our review of this book.

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