Apple Cider Butter is one of my favorite fall treats to make. Apple butter is a fruit preserve made by cooking fresh apples with sugar and apple cider and reducing it into a thick rich spread. It is fairly easy to make and well worth the time, as the butter can be put to many good uses in the kitchen (and packaged in jars for gifts). My favorite way to eat it is on top of buttered toast or homemade biscuits, but I’ve baked it into Apple Butter Pie and these Apple Butter Bars are high on the list, too.
Apple Butter Bars are moist, cake-like bar cookies that are made with a generous amount of apple butter in the batter. The intense apple flavor of the preserve gives the finished bars a wonderful apple flavor, which is enhanced with just a hint of cinnamon, ginger and allspice. The bars are baked in a jelly-roll pan, so they turn out to be fairly thin, but are still moist, tender and perfect for snacking.
I used my homemade Apple Cider Butter in this recipe, and I definitely recommend giving that recipe a try to use as a base for this one. If you don’t make your own, apple butter is available in many grocery stores (Smuckers makes a great one) in the fall and winter. Applesauce can make a good substitution, but it doesn’t have the depth of flavor that apple butter does and it doesn’t have additional sugar (even sweetened brands won’t be as sweet as apple butter is). This means that bars made with applesauce instead of apple butter will be much milder, although they will still be tasty, so I recommend adding more spice to liven up your bars if you choose to use applesauce in them.
These bars can be eaten plain or with a dusting of powdered sugar. I usually take the powdered sugar route, personally, but this time around I added a drizzle of vanilla glaze to add a little extra sweetness and dress them up a bit. The bars keep well for several days when stored in an airtight container.
Homemade apple butter is a delicious topping for all kinds of things, such as toast, muffins and even yogurt and oatmeal. Since I make it in the fall, I tend to serve it with biscuits and dinner rolls during big holiday dinners, too. This year I wanted a change of pace and decided to stuff my biscuits with the apple butter instead of serving it on the side.
These Apple Butter-Stuffed Buttermilk Biscuits are buttery, flaky biscuits that have a small pocket of apple butter baked inside of them. The apple butter adds a nice sweetness to the biscuits, and makes these a tasty snack, in addition to being a tasty side dish. I roll my biscuit dough out in a much thinner layer than I usually do and cut out twice as many rounds. I add the apple butter to the center of half of the rounds, just as I would do if I were making sandwich cookies, and place another biscuit round on top. The warm apple butter is a great treat when you’re biting into a freshly baked biscuit.
Usually I work biscuit dough on a well-floured surface. Since I was planning to stuff these, I wanted the dough to be a little on the sticky side so that I would get a good seal around the filling with my dough. Use flour sparingly and use a bench scraper if necessary to get the cut biscuits off your work surface. If you do find that your biscuit dough isn’t sticky enough to form a tight seal, simply wet the edges of the dough with a little water and pinch to close. Even if some of the apple butter escapes during baking, it’ll still create a sweet center in each of the biscuits and they will still be delicious – you just might want to serve them with a little extra apple butter on the side.
Apple butter is a thick, smooth fruit puree made by slowly cooking fresh apples with sugar. It gets is name from the fact that the finished product is smooth as butter, not because there is any butter in it. There are many types of fruit butter out there, but apple butter is by far my favorite. Apples take very well to being turned into fruit butter and leave you with an amber-colored preserve that is bursting with sweet apple flavor.
My Homemade Apple Cider Butter is actually inspired by Smuckers Cider Apple Butter, which is a delicious product that the company only makes in the fall when apples are fresh from the orchard. It was actually the very product that launched the family-owned company back in 1897. Mine is made with lots of apples, apple cider and a mixture of brown and white sugar. The apples are cooked until they are tender, then pureed and cooked again with sugar until the butter-like finished consistency is achieved. Since you are cooking these apples down, the texture of the apples that you choose to work with doesn’t matter as much as it does when you are choosing apples for baking pie. You can use Granny Smith if you like tart apples or Fuji, which I tend to use.
I find that a blend of brown sugar and white sugar gives the preserve a real depth of flavor and is slightly reminiscent of apple pie – only more intense, because the mixture has been reduced by so much. I have used both plain apple cider and spiced apple cider in batches of apple butter with good results. Choose a good quality, all natural apple cider (or even apple juice) that you like the flavor of and you’ll be very happy with the results.
I use my homemade apple cider butter to top muffins, biscuits, pancakes, waffles and anything else I can think of pairing it with. I’ve warmed it up and put it on ice cream, and I’ve even turned it into an Apple Butter Pie. The rich apple flavor is sweet and addictive. This recipe doesn’t make a huge batch, so I simply store mine in an airtight container in the refrigerator as I use it (which doesn’t take long). If you are into canning, you could certainly can your cider butter after it has finished cooking and you can make a double batch if you want to have a lot of it on hand, or to give as gifts. If you don’t plan on canning, know that when stored in the fridge, a batch will keep well for at least two weeks.