Lame “stay at home” Friday nights are some of my favorite Friday nights. A night out drinking and painting the town can’t compare to a night of watching Netflix movies by yourself and making caramel corn or chocolate chip cookies or, in the case of this post, apple butter. I have no shame in telling you that this past Friday night, instead of socializing with my peers and dancing on the proverbial ceiling, I stayed at home and (gulp) watched “Funny Girl” (it was my first time! It’s a rite of passage) on Tivo while making the recipe for apple butter I found on Heidi Swanson’s brilliant, beautiful site. I’d never cooked a recipe from Heidi’s site before and this was going to be the night. I’d march my band out and beat her drum, so to speak.
As you can see from her site, Heidi jarred her apple butter in vintage jars, but I used the only jars I had and they still look nifty:
As Heidi says on her site, “The cool thing about apple butter is that it is very straightforward to make.” All you really need are apples, cider, lemon and then the spices you have laying around for making apple cobbler and apple pie. I’ll let you go to Heidi’s site for the recipe and click ahead to see pictures of my endeavor. And then, of course, reveal my brilliant ice cream concoction…
When I told people that I spent my Friday night making apple butter, they asked: “What’s in apple butter?” and when I told them they were surprised that there was no fat. “No fat,” I assured them. “Just apples, cider, lemon and spices.” Butter, I believe, refers to the consistency of the finished product, not its make-up.
To make apple butter, then, you peel, core and chop up a bunch of apples:
You cover them with cider and let them simmer until soft:
Then you pulverize them in a blender (as Heidi suggests) or you can do as I did and use an immersion blender. I was surprised, actually, to find that the post-pulverized apples were pure liquid. I worried that I had a bad cider to apple ratio:
You add sugar, cinnamon and cloves:
Then you let boil for a long time (at 212 degrees, I believe, but double check on Heidi’s site) until it’s darkened and the bubbles are more lava-like (Heidi’s description actually captures the moment you know it’s done better than I can). But here’s what it looks like:
Meanwhile, you’ve heated jars in the oven for 10 minutes.
You take them out, fill them with apple butter, cover them and then plunge into boiling water for another 10 minutes.
That’s it! You have apple butter!
One thing Heidi doesn’t say on her site is whether you can store this apple butter at room temperature. I’m assuming you can because she doesn’t say not to, but just to be safe I put all three jars in the fridge. The next step would obviously be to make biscuits. The greatest glory of living in Atlanta was eating biscuits and apple butter at The Flying Biscuit and I would recreate this the next day using my favorite biscuit recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.
To make these biscuits you need buttermilk. I purchased buttermilk at Citarella on a walk home from school on Tuesday. Yet Tuesday night, I wasn’t inclined to make biscuits. How can one person living alone justify making a giant batch of biscuits just for themselves? What could I make that would keep for a long time, utilizing the apple butter in a way that would be novel and exciting?
I opened the fridge and three things stared at me: apple butter, buttermilk and then cream I had leftover from the night of chicken with 40 cloves of garlic and apple cobbler. I had just seen The Barefoot Contessa make ice cream on TV by simmering cream with vanilla, sugar and vanilla bean seeds. Why couldn’t I do the same thing with cream and apple butter? I’d melt the apple butter into the cream, let it chill, then churn it.
Well when I added the cream to my small pot, it wasn’t enough to make ice cream. That’s when I had the idea to add buttermilk. I’d heard of buttermilk ice cream before and I also knew that many ice cream recipes involve the combination of milk, cream and the X factor (in this case, apple butter.) Buttermilk would give the whole thing an extra tang.
So here you see cream, buttermilk and apple butter about to be stirred together on a low heat:
My policy was to keep adding apple butter and tasting the mixture until it exploded with flavor. This took, basically, 3/4s of a jar of apple butter. (I like a lot of flavor.) Here it is all melted together:
I strained it into a bowl (that’s what BC does to get rid of detritus) and put it into the fridge to chill. When it was done chilling, I took out my ice cream maker, poured the mixture in and let it whir. Here is the result:
I call it Adam’s Apple Butter Buttermilk Ice Cream. Do you like how the word butter is repeated twice in the ice cream title? The graphic design could exploit that, it could look like:
BUTTERMILK ICE CREAM
[With the word “butter” overlapping, that’s not coming through for some reason.] Hey, that’s why they pay me the big dollars! But this came out quite tasty and my brother, who arrived tonight, who I thought would hate it (because of the tangy, unexpected buttermilk flavor) enjoyed it. “This is good,” he said, tasting it, 10 minutes after entering my apartment.
Could this be my first recipe creation? Well, no, I invented chocolate covered grapes in high school. But this is my most novel, my most exciting, my most brilliant… Ok, I’ll stop tooting my own horn, but don’t rain on my parade and tell me I’m not a genius. I gotta fly once, I gotta try once, only can die once, right, sir? Hello gorgeous ice cream! And thanks Heidi (and your friend Carolina B.) for a great apple butter recipe!