Monday, November 21, 2011

Fast as Lightning and Apple Butter That Isn’t

Are you ready? No, not for Thanksgiving dinner…I’m talking about the much-anticipated Black Friday sales that get those very determined people out of bed at three o’clock in the morning to stand in ridiculously long lines and wrestle over Elmo. Me? No…I am decidedly not one of those people. I will however, spend oodles of money happily from the comfort of my couch, snuggled cozily under a blanket. No crowds, no lines, no waiting; just a hemorrhaging wallet.

Last year we were both sick at Thanksgiving and had to forego our usual Black Friday tradition of wandering around our sleepy downtown, eating and drinking ourselves silly. Instead, stuck in the house, we stumbled upon the lightning deals happening on Amazon, which turned out to be a very dangerous discovery.

Have you seen these lightning deals? They’re fantastic. You get a little clue as to what’s coming up for the next deals, and then you’ve got to move fast when that time hits. (Hence the lightning aspect.) They had us riveted in front of the computer all day, merrily clicking away, sometimes seemingly for no other reason than that is was “such a great deal!” Hundreds and hundreds of dollars were spent that day, and more in the following days of this lightning extravaganza.

So our previous tradition is now out the window. Lightning deals are the new tradition. And we’ve been waiting all year to do it again. I think I can hear my wallet whimpering already…

Here’s something that’s not anywhere near as fast as lightning: my apple butter recipe. But is it worth it? Mmmm, yes!

Apple butter is new to me. I’d never made it before, but knew I wanted to use it in a dish that I was planning. My first attempt was basically applesauce. It was very loose and while it tasted great, wasn’t exactly what I was going for. After some research, I decided to take the advice of many people who said cooking it for a long time is a good way to achieve that butter-like thickness. Good thing, because we fell asleep with it on the stove.

Every hour I would peer into the pot and determine that I wanted it to go just one more hour. My final plan was to go six hours. So when we woke up at the eight-hour mark, I thought I might have one big piece of apple jerky. But no…it was perfect. Slow cooking is definitely the way to go.

Ancho Chili Spiced Apple Butter

Makes approximately 2 cups

4 cups cored apple, cut into large chunks
2 cups apple juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat apples and apple juice to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, until apples are very soft. Stir occasionally.

When apples are soft, run through a food mill. Return back to pot with juice. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Heat on the lowest flame possible for about 8 hours, stirring occasionally. Mixture will get very thick.

Remove from heat and use a blender or immersion blender to puree. (If using a regular blender, you’ll need to move the apple butter around to get it all pureed since it's so thick.)

Oh how I adore sweet and spicy combinations, and this apple butter is just that. I love ancho chili powder for the rich flavor that it adds to dishes, however, it doesn’t add a lot of heat. I wanted just a little kick in this apple butter and a dash of cayenne adds the perfect hint of spice at the finish. Apple butter has endless uses…whatever you think it might be good on, it probably will be.

Hopefully I’ll be back later in the week after the cooking marathon has ended and I’ve recovered from my buyer’s remorse…

Happy Thanksgiving!

(Update: I just checked Amazon and saw they’re already doing lightning deals. I screamed. I may have a problem.)


  1. Ancho chili power with the sweetness of the apple... I can't even imagine how good this must be. Great flavor combination!

  2. I've got to check out Amazon's lightning deals!

  3. You are so mean to have even mentioned those lightning deals! I stay inside on Black Friday simply to avoid everything about the shopping mess involved, even the traffic. Now I'll be at my computer. Spending money. Ugh.

    I guess I'll need t make this apple butter to eat while clicking away on deals. It looks delicious and I love the touch of heat. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  4. Would love to treasure this recipe...lovely and simply awesome!

  5. I've recently received my first ever jar of apple butter, and am excited to try it. Ancho chiles sound like such a great twist!

  6. I am so NOT a shopping person after thanksgiving, I would rather pay more then deal with crowds. This recipe looks delightful.

  7. Ancho Chiles sound like a great addition to counteract the sweetness of the apple butter. I had no idea Amazon did lightning deals, looks like I found something new for Black Friday!

  8. Okay, you so shouldn't have told me about the lightening deals at Amazon!!! la la la, I can't hear you! Because I am determined to ignore Black Friday as best as I can.
    Love the spicy apple butter.

  9. How dare you share such a dangerous thing...lightening deals on Amazon?! This is going to get ugly. Lol.
    I need to try your method of apple butter... While mine turned out good it was like you said, similar to applesauce. This looks great though!

  10. Nice to meet you and visit your site. I haven't tried apple butter with chili powder but I certainly will now, I really enjoy some heat in foods. Apples, interesting. Happy Thanksgiving!

  11. I LOVE apple butter, but have never tried making my own. I think I should...especially this one with a hint of heat from the ancho!

  12. I've made lots of apple butter in my day, but never any spiced with chili powder! Wow! I bet the sweet and spicy are fabulous together! :)

  13. What a great idea to add the ancho powder and cayenne!Taking something really good and making it better!

  14. I LOVE apple butter! And I'm going to have to check out those lightening deals on Amazon too. While I cook my apple butter :) Happy Thanksgiving to you and the family. I'm sure whatever you make will be fantastic!

  15. LOL...good luck with your lightning deals :)

    Your apple butter brings me back to childhood memories...but I love your added kick with the ancho chile and cayenne....mmmmmm.

  16. This is a beautiful way to begin your day! Love the pictures!

  17. Happy Thanksgiving my friend! This Apple Butter is just beautiful and I love the ingredients...ancho chili powder? Sign me up!

  18. I learn something new EVERYDAY! Thank you, Karen ;-).

    I love a little heat on this spread ;-).

  19. i never had apple butter before much more a little heat on a spread. but this looks absolutely divine.. i don't think i could go on black friday shopping but im glad though that there's cyber monday hehe.
    happy thanksgiving karen. im grateful to have met you through your posts and for you dropping by at my site.
    enjoy the holidays!

  20. Ooooh... apple butter with a chili kick - sounds amazing!

  21. I shopped on Black Friday, as always. But I was on Amazon today and missed the lightning deals. Now that you've talked about 'em, I'm going to go on a search on Amazon tomorrow. AND make this apple butter - sounds delicious!