Archive for: fruit butter
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.
Fruit butter is a very thick, smooth fruit puree. It is made by slowly cooking fresh fruit with sugar until the fruit is so tender that it can easily be made into a puree. There is no butter in the recipe, and the name comes from the fact that puree has a smooth, silky texture to it. In terms of flavor, fruit butters have a very natural flavor to them because, although some sugar is added during cooking, the main ingredient is fresh fruit. Fruit butters typically are less sweet than jams and preserves are, and they are much smoother (and sweeter) than something like applesauce.
Fruit butters can be made with many different types of fruit. Apples, pears and pumpkins are very commonly used, but all stone fruits work well, as do some tropical fruits, such as mangoes. They are often spread on toast or used to top waffles, pancakes or scones. Fruit butters can also be used interchangeably with jams and preserves in some applications. You could use them on a peanut butter sandwich or as a filling in a baked good, for instance. But because fruit butters are much less sweet than preserves are, they can be showcased in recipes where you want the fruit flavor to stand out, like an Apple Butter Pie.
I always liked Fig Newtons, but I find that many people like the filling and are a bit bored by the plain cake that surrounds it. I can see this because the cake doesn’t have a strong flavor to it and serves, primarily, to make the Newton easier to hold and eat. I was inspired by my last batch of Fig Newtons to make a fig bar that had a little more personality to it and the result was this recipe for Fig Crumble Bars.
The bars taste similar to Fig Newton, only much better. The crumble mixture is crisp, buttery and has an addictive salty-sweet quality to it. I actually added a bit more salt than I might usually add to the crumble mixture because of how intensely sweet figs are; having a pinch of extra salt lets the fruit stand out without the bars becoming overly sweet and cloying. The same crumble mixture is also pressed into the bottom of the pan to make a crust for the bars. In between, there is a rich fig layer that adds a tremendous amount of flavor and creates a nice contrast with the crisp, buttery top and bottom layers of this bar.
I would usually use jam or preserves as the filling for a bar cookie like these because they are easy to find, sweet and have a good fruit flavor. This time, I had a jar of Fig Butter from Trader Joe’s and I used that. Fruit butters are a lot like jams, but typically do not have much (or any) extra sugar added to them and they’re cooked to have a very, very smooth consistency. Some fruit butters tend to be a little watery (and would make the crust soggy), but this one was thick and rich with a great fresh fig flavor. If you have a Trader Joe’s, definitely try the fig butter. Otherwise, any good quality fig preserves will work beautifully here. I suggested a range for the filling so that, just in case you’re not a huge fig fan, you can put a slightly thinner layer of filling in your bars and still know that they’ll turn out.
There are many reasons to like pumpkin pie, from the flavor of the pumpkin itself to the spices to the consistency. The consistency is probably the most unique thing about pumpkin pie. It is a custard – made with eggs and milk – but one that is made thick with the addition of pumpkin puree. Sweet potato pie is just about the only other pie that shares this texture. Should these two orange vegetable-based pies the only pair of pies to have this smooth, yet satisfying consistency? I think not. I used a jar of Smuckers Cider Apple Butter to make Apple Butter Pie.
Apple butter, and all fruit butters, are very thick fruit purees. They have no butter in them and get their name from their smooth consistency. They can have an intense fruit flavor because the pureed fruit is thickened so much before the butter is finished. The Smuckers butter is no exception. It contains apple cider and apples and is a variation on the recipe that The original Smucker used to found the jam company about 100 years ago. It has a dark color and an almost caramel apple flavor to it, but it isn’t too sweet on its own. You can use another brand of apple butter if you prefer, but look out for this one in stores (it’s a seasonal item) if you don’t.
I made my own crumb crust with vanilla wafer cookies. A graham cracker crust would work just as well, as would a traditional pie crust. Any crust you use must be prebaked before filling. I also used a fairly standard 9-inch pie plate. If you use a deeper pie plate, your pie might need a few extra minutes in the oven.
Since there is sugar added to the apple butter I used (and to most commercial apple butters), I treated the apple butter as though it were a pumpkin pie mix that already had sugar added. It had a great flavor, so I didn’t tamper with the spicing. The result was one of the easiest pies I’ve put together and it tasted great. It may have looked like a pumpkin pie, but the smooth filling smelled and tasted like a delicious apple pie! This pie is going into holiday rotation for its ease of preparation and flavor. It might be hard to resist digging into a fresh jar of apple butter – but well worth it when you can dig into a slice of pie instead.