Chocolate Applesauce Muffins with Ball® Fresh Preserving Products Maple Applesauce

This post is sponsored by Ball® Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands.

Yesterday, I showed you how to make the Maple Applesauce from Ball® Fresh Preserving Products. Flavored with a hint of cinnamon and sweetened with earthy maple syrup, it’s good eaten straight from the jar or used as an ingredient in all manner of baked goods.

I love using applesauce in baking. It has a near-magical ability to bring both needed moisture and welcome lightness to cakes, muffins, quick breads, and breakfast bars. I often use it to replace up to half the butter or oil in recipes and typically find myself preferring the versions made with applesauce. Just know that replacing more than half of the fat with applesauce undoes the balance of the recipe and will push it over the edge to rubbery. Consider yourself warned!

The ingredients for these muffins are pretty simple. You start by beating sugar and softened butter together until it gets creamy and you don’t see too many individual sugar granules. I like to do this in a stand mixer, but you can also opt for an electric hand mixer. Once the first two ingredients are well-incorporated, you beat in eggs, the applesauce, and some vanilla extract.

While the wet ingredients are combining themselves, you whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (don’t worry if the cocoa is still a little clumpy. It will work itself out). I made this batch with unbleached all-purpose flour, but I’ve also made these muffins with whole wheat pastry flour for a bit more fiber. For a gluten-free version, just swap in one cup of your favorite GF baking blend.

Add the dry ingredients one-third at a time, until they are completely incorporated and the batter looks like glossy milk chocolate pudding. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners or butter it well. Carefully divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffins.

Bake the muffins for 18 to 22 minutes at 350°F/177°C, until a toothpick inserted in one of the center muffins comes out mostly clean (a few damp crumbs are fine, wet batter is not). Turn the muffins out of the tin and let them cool on a wire rack. Once they are completely cool, store them in a zip top bag or airtight container. They’ll keep well on the counter for three to four days. For longer storage, wrap them well and freeze them.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Newell Brands as part of a compensated partnership. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

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Maple Applesauce from Ball® Fresh Preserving Products

This post is sponsored by Ball® Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands.

So far this summer, I’ve written four pairs of posts in partnership with my friends at Ball®Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands. In May, it was all about their Mixed Berry Jam and the Jammy Baked Oatmeal I made with it. In June, we focused in on Honey Cinnamon Pears and the Honey Cinnamon Pear Sorbet I turned them into.

For July, the starter recipe was Kosher Dill Pickle Spears (so crisp and tangy!) and the transformation was a batch of Pasta and Kosher Dill Pickle Salad. Last month, I shared their life changing recipe for Roasted Garlic Roma Tomato Sauce and then used it to make a really lovely Summer Vegetable Braise.

This month, they’ve asked me to focus on apples. This is not a hard assignment, as apples are one of my very favorite things to eat and preserve. My starter recipe is Maple Applesauce, which is what I’m going to walk you through today. Make sure to check back tomorrow for the Chocolate Applesauce Muffins I use it in!

To start, gather up 12 pounds of apples. There is no one best variety of apple for making applesauce, but I do find that I like the flavor best when a sauce contains at least two or three varieties of apple. Using a diverse assortment of apples means you’ll end up with a more complex-tasting sauce.

Once you’ve chosen your apples, cut them in quarters and heap them in a large pot. In selecting the pot you use to cook down the apples, know that you’ll want about one quart of capacity for every pound of fruit you’re using. As you can see, 12 pounds of apple quarters fit pretty neatly into my 12 quart stock pot.

Pour a cup of water into the bottom of the stock pot and tuck a cinnamon stick or two in with the apples. You just want enough liquid so that the apples don’t scorch at the start of the cooking process (this means, if a single cup isn’t going to cover the bottom of your pot, use a splash more). Then, you cook. Every apple is going to have a different cooking time, so you just let the apples simmer over medium-low heat until they’re all soft.

In the case of this batch, the green apples I used were tender after just 20 minutes of cooking, but the red apples needed nearly an hour of gentle heat before they softened sufficiently.

Now, you may have noticed that I didn’t peel or core my apples before cooking. That’s because I have a Ball® freshTECH HarvestPro™ Sauce & Salsa Maker. Fitted with the standard screen, this machine makes really quick work of the cooked apples. It easily separates sauce from the less edible bits, and creates a gorgeously uniform texture (just make sure to remove the cinnamon sticks prior to milling the sauce). If you don’t have one of these appliances, you can either use a manual food mill, or you can peel and core prior to cooking, and then break the apples up into a more rustic sauce using a potato masher.

When you’ve gotten the sauce to your desired texture and you’ve returned it to the pot, it’s time to sweetened with a bit of maple syrup. Know that maple syrup is a lower acid sweetener, so it needs to be used carefully in canning. Happily, in this sauce the ratio of high acid apples to the lower acid syrup is such that the sauce remains perfectly safe for canning.

Simmer the sauce down for about ten minutes, to ensure that it’s quite thick and that it’s piping hot when you fill up the jars.

While the apples cook down, prepare a boiling water bath and sufficient jars for the sauce. Once you judge that the sauce is done, remove one jar from the canner. Funnel in some of the applesauce, filling to 1/2 inch headspace. Stir with a wooden or plastic chopstick to remove any trapped air bubbles. Wipe the rim, apply a lid and ring, and place the jar back in the canner. Repeat with the remaining jars and sauce.

These jars are processed for 25 minutes at a full rolling boil (remember, if you live at elevation, you need to adjust your processing time accordingly). When the time is up, remove the lid, turn off the heat, and let the jars cool slowly in the canner for 5 minutes. Once that time is up, remove the jars from the canner and let them cool on a folded kitchen towel. Once the jars are entirely cool, check them to ensure that the jars have sealed fully and completely.

The total yield on my batch was 20 cups of product, which is a bit higher than the yield suggested by the recipe (yield variation at work!). I opted to use Pint & Half jars to contain 9 pints of the product (this left me with 6 jars in total), and left that final pint out to use in the muffins (check back for that recipe tomorrow!) and for immediate snacking.

Click here to get the recipe for Maple Applesauce!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Newell Brands as part of a compensated partnership. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

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OXO’s Cookies for Kids’ Cancer + Dorie Greenspan’s Swedish Visiting Cake Bars

This post is sponsored by OXO.

For the last several years, I’ve had the great pleasure of participating in OXO’s Cookies for Kids’ Cancer blogger campaign. Cookies for Kids’ Cancer raises money to fund the research that is developing new, improved, & less toxic treatments for pediatric cancer.

In middle school, I had a close friend who had had bone cancer as a baby. When we were in 7th grade, her cancer came back and she died just before the start of high school. Each year when I write these Cookies for Kids’ Cancer posts, I do so with Shianne in my thoughts (you can read more of her story here).

This year, OXO has partnered with chefs and cookbook authors who support the mission of Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. They’ve provided recipes to bloggers like me to make and share in the hopes that the sight of tasty treats will inspire folks across the country to plan and host their own Cookies for Kids’ Cancer community bake sales (you can sign up to do so right here).

Here’s some added incentive. If you decide to host a bake sale, make sure to indicate that you were inspired by OXO to get involved when you register. If you do that, they’ll match proceeds from your bake sale (up to their annual commitment).

For my part, I baked up a batch of Dorie Greenspan’s Swedish Visiting Cake Bars (recipe after the jump). These sweet, slightly chewy bars are rich and wonderful. The almond meringue topping turns a basic little cake into a dreamy treat (one that I wish I had a bite of right now!).

To make the baking process easier, OXO sent me their 5lb Food Scale with Pull Out Display (perfect for measuring out small amounts of ingredients!), a Balloon Whisk (for whipping the batter together), 9 Inch Square Non-Stick Pro Cake Pan (the ideal vessel for these cake bars), and Non-Stick Cooling and Baking Rack (to ensure that the bars cooled evenly).

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by OXO. They provided the cooling rack, baking pan, whisk, scale, and recipe. All words, thoughts, and opinions are my own.

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Upcoming Events: Mullica Hill! Lancaster County!

Hello friends! I hope everyone is having a good end of summer season! I’ve done a truly insane amount of canning this year, with a handful of projects still lined up on my dining room table. Like some of my farmer friends, I’m really looking forward to the first hard freeze, when mother nature will finally force me to slow down!

I’m taking from the canning pot to check in about a couple things I’ve got going on in the coming days.

Tonight at 7 pm (Monday, September 17) I will be at the Mullica Hill Branch of the Gloucester County Library System, in Mullica Hill, NJ, offering a free workshop on how to make your own sunflower seed butter. This is a bit of a departure from my regular demo topics and I’m excited to be branching out!

On Saturday, October 27, I am teaming up with the folks from Fillmore Container to teach a Pear Vanilla Caramel workshop at The Livery at Lampeter Cafe. This will be a hands on workshop in which you will team up with a group of fellow workshop participants to make a batch of caramel. I love these fruit-based caramel sauces because they are safe for water bath canning. The workshop is $40 and you can sign up here. If you want to make a day of it, Amanda Feifer will be teaching a kombucha workshop that morning.

Because of the sunflower seed butter demo, I won’t be doing a livestream tonight.

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September Partners: Fillmore Container, EcoJarz, McDonald Paper, and Mason Jar Lifestyle

Happy September, dear readers! It’s the start of the month and that means that it’s time to thank the businesses that help make this site possible. Please do show them that you appreciate their support with your time and attention!  

Lancaster, PA-based and family-owned Fillmore Container are first! They offer all manner of canning jars, lids, and other preservation gear and carry just about every Ball jar currently available , so if you’re looking for a particular style, check them out. Also, for you locals, mark your calendars! I’ll be out in Lancaster County on Saturday, October 27 teaching a class in partnership with the folks from Fillmore.

Our friends over at EcoJarz are another stalwart sponsor. They make an array of products designed to fit on top of mason jars, including cheese graterscoffee brewers, and stainless steel storage lids.

Back for another month is McDonald Paper & Restaurant Supply. Based in Brooklyn, they are open to the public and sell all manner of culinary supplies. Restaurant supply stores are a great way to get affordable, durable kitchen gear (including jars!). I’m a big of their big food storage containers for macerating fruit for jam.

Mason Jar Lifestyle is a one-stop shopping site for all the jar lovers out there. They sell all manner of mason jar accessories and adaptors. If you’re in the market for lidsstrawssprouting lidsfermentation weightsairlockstea light converterscozies, they are there for you.

And if your company, shop, or family business is interested in reaching the food-loving and engaged Food in Jars audience, you can find more details here. Leave a comment on this post or drop me a note to learn more!

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Peach Pie Filling with Ginger

It’s finally day five of Peach Week 2018 (oops! I’m a week late with this post)! On the first day, I shared a tiny batch of Peach Cardamom Jam. Tuesday was all about the Peach Walnut Conserve! On Wednesday, we moved on to Peach Chutney with Toasted Whole Spices. Next came Peach Mustard. And finally, here’s the promised Peach Pie Filling!

Pie filling. If you’ve never made it, the first time through can be sort of weird (thanks to the Clear Jel, takes on a consistency unlike any other preserve). But if you’re into making things that fall into the category of pantry filling, convenience foods, pie filling should definitely be on your list.

Sure, you can make pie from it (just add a crust), but it’s also a great addition to baked oatmeal, cobbler bars, and it makes the really great hand pies.

Pie fillings require a specialized ingredient called Clear Jel. It’s a modified cornstarch that’s been designed to hold up to the heat of the canning process. It produces a thick, stable gel that holds its consistency for the duration of the product’s shelf life. If you live in a city, you might have to order Clear Jel, but if you live in a more rural, canning friendly area, you should be able to get it at your local farm store (I can’t find it in Philadelphia, so I make sure to stock up whenever I’m in Lancaster County).

Also, know that you don’t want Instant Clear Jel (that one is for thickening pie fillings that you aren’t going to can), you want the conventional, heat activated version.

Once you have the Clear Jel in hand, the process of making pie filling is straightforward. You gather up your peaches and peel them (for a batch sized like this one, I use the peeling technique described in this post), and then cut each peach into eight segments.

Once your peaches are ready, you combine some water and lemon juice and bring it to a boil (make sure to use a pot that’s large enough to hold all the peaches). While the liquid heats, you whisk the sugar and Clear Jel together. When the liquid is bubbling away, you add the sugar/Clear Jel in a slow and steady manner, whisking constantly as you stream it in. As soon as the Clear Jel hits the hot liquid, it activates and begins to thicken.

Then, you tip the peaches and any juice that’s collected in the bowl into the pot and gently fold them into the goo. This is also when I add the freshly grated ginger. Pie fillings can also be flavored with dried spices or extracts. Add the dry spices with the sugar and Clear Jel, and the extracts to the liquid just before adding the dry ingredients.

Once you have your peaches in the goo, it’s just a matter of filling the jars. Make sure to bubble the jars well (pie filling is dense!) and leave a generous inch of headspace. Pie filling expands during processing and really loves to ooze out of the jars when they’re cooling. Proper headspace can help prevent that, though it may happen even if you left a generous amount of headspace. As long as the jars seal, a little leakage is okay. Just make sure to clean the jars well after they’ve cooled.

Other things to remember. Tighten the rings just a little bit more firmly than you do for most other preserves and leave the jars in the canner for a full ten minutes after the processing time is up. Turn the heat off, slide the pot to a cooler burner, remove the lid and let the jars sit. This slower cooling processing will help prevent product loss.

This blog post was written in partnership with the good people at the Washington State Stone Fruit Growers as part of my role as official Canbassador. They sent me 18 pounds of peaches and asked me to preserve them. I’ll be posting peach recipes all week long, so check back tomorrow for the next installment. For more about Washington State Fruit, follow them on social media!

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