If there's anything more boring than apple sauce it's apple butter. Yuck. One would be hard pressed to find any redemption in its murky brown depths. Its first crime is that it's not sweet. At all. On top of that, all the apple flavor has been mercilessly cooked out. Then there's that whole goody two-shoes "it's so healthy, no added sugar. And organic!" Please.
I like my jams sweet, thank you. And this recipe for Caramelized Apple Jam is just the ticket. Fresh apple flavor shines through a loving embrace of caramelized sugar. A smidgeon of honey is added for good measure. Fragrant tonka bean enhances but does not overpower. For those not yet on the tonka bandwagon feel free to substitute some scraped vanilla bean seeds. Steer clear of cinnamon which will lead you down the apple pie filling path, a road better not taken here.
I use a combo of tart Granny Smiths and Braeburns. Granny holds her own, leaving nice white chunks, while the Braeburns break down and merge with the caramel. You start by caramelizing sugar with some apple juice until it's a nice light color. Then, at the end you cook up a batch of really dark caramel and pour that in. This reinforces the caramel flavor but doesn't darken the jam.
You need fresh lemon juice to balance the sugar, support apple's natural tartness, and to keep the apples from discoloring. I add a couple of shake of Ball's Fruit Fresh for extra measure. So this apple jam recipe actually looks like apples instead of the dreaded muddy gunk of apple butter.
I love that in New York diners a "toasted" corn muffin is really a corn muffin that has been sliced and fried in butter. So I "toasted" some pound cake and topped it with Caramelized Apple Jam for a heavenly little dessert.
Click here for the recipe for Caramelized Apple Jam.