Spiced Apple Butter
If you've only experienced store-bought apple butter, this homemade version will blow you away. The recipe, from Kaley Laird, the executive pastry chef at Asheville, North Carolina's James Beard Award-nominated restaurant Benne on Eagle, requires just five ingredients (including apples) and requires little effort beyond occasional stirring and getting out your blender. But you'll be rewarded with a not-too-sweet, deeply flavored spread that you can enjoy on your morning biscuit or toast, swirl into a bowl of oatmeal, or use as a topping for Laird's decadent Parsnip-Buttermilk Tart. Like most apple butter recipes, this one contains apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon. But Laird's secret ingredient is ¼ cup of bourbon, which cooks down along with the apples and adds a subtle kick and depth of flavor. If you'd rather skip the alcohol, substitute 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract. Once the apples have cooked down, the mixture is processed until completely smooth in a blender. If you prefer apple butter that has a little more texture, you can leave it on the chunkier side. The recipe makes 4 cups of apple butter, and it can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month—although we're pretty sure it won't last that long.