This Slow Cooker Caramel Apple Butter is the perfect way to celebrate the season’s most abundant fruit, but this isn’t your mamma’s apple butter. With a rich, honey sweetened caramel mixed right in, you’ll find notes of rich, caramely goodness paired with the traditional spicy and tart apple butter.
We are home and still getting settled after our whirlwind trip to Europe. It was absolutely glorious, incredible, magical and so inspiring. I came home with a heart full of memories, sore feet from so very many miles of exploring and a head full of ideas for recipes inspired by all of our delicious meals. While the jet lag has been a bit brutal (8 hours time difference is no joke), what has been an even greater challenge is getting back into it all. Not the work, my usual healthy eating or my daily fitness routine, I jumped right back into all of those – they are so important to my mental well-being and were sorely missed in those 10 days away. Rather, I again found myself plagued by something interesting upon my return, something that seems to happen nearly every time I step away for an extended period of time. The much needed break from the internet, the constant connection and the need to check in across the various platforms throughout the day, it all obviously disappears when I am off adventuring. It helps that with international travel we were limited in our data usage, and of course the time difference plays a role, as well, but being busy and present, this perfect combination renders the vast, never-ending virtual world essentially non-existent to me and I love it. I often look forward to that aspect of vacation as much as I do the travel itself.
I can’t say that in my time away I missed the feeling of constantly needing to know what’s going on for everyone else. If I’m being totally truthful, I kinda hate that feeling. I definitely didn’t miss the onslaught of political posts, the arguing, the ignorance and the hate either. More and more, but especially when I travel and very especially this particular trip, I just didn’t find myself wondering what everyone else is doing, I didn’t feel that strange completist’s urge to go through my ENTIRE Instagram feed to see what I missed in my time away or the need to watch my entire Snapchat feed. Instead I felt (and feel) content, fulfilled and honestly most nights when we’d return to the wifi of our hotels, I was so tired from a exciting and long day of exploring that what I wanted to see most nights were the backs of my eyelids and whatever dreams my exhausted brain could conjure up for me.
But upon my arrival back home this time, I have felt the continued desire to stay removed. I have quite enjoyed this feeling of contentment and solitude. I realize when I am away and “off the grid” (which let’s be fully honest here, staying in 4-star boutique hotels in London and Paris are hardly that, but it is by comparison of my usual life) – life just feels so much more special and tangible. Rather than the constant swiping up through the feeds, double-tapping so I know that they know that I care, every car ride was instead spent observing my surroundings, meals with my love were spent talking and laughing and when I was truly relaxing, that’s exactly what I was doing. Nothing more. We weren’t tempted by the vast world of everywhere else and we were simply present in the moment. A rare occurrence in this digital age.
But what can I do? Sadly being on all of these platforms, it is vital to my work. Creating content here on this website and working to grow my brand and share my message, they are all dependent on making sure people know that I am doing so, because without that my work would be for naught. Social media platforms are the most effective way to do so. This is where everyone is. I love that with these outlets I am able to stay connected with all of you, I love hearing your stories, I love when you tell me you made my recipes and especially when you share photos of them. But with algorithm-driven platforms like Facebook and Instagram however, the sad truth is if we content creators don’t interact with our peers and fellow creators and if we don’t receive each other’s engagement in return, if we don’t respond to comments and messages from our readers, the apps will downshift our content and show it to less people. Staying active in a community of my fellow bloggers and creatives, as fun and inspiring as it can be, it can also feel a bit like a game at times and it also distracts me from the greater, larger mission of why I am doing all of this – I’m sure you can imagine how it can also at times feel very forced and fake.
Daily I find myself making so many observations about these varying platforms. There are actually people who will only interact with me, if I like their content first. Like for a like! Otherwise, you can forget it. There are others who exclusively only interact with pages or profiles that have a larger following than their own. Have less followers than them, they don’t have time for you. It’s just all so strange and counterintuitive to the way I operate in real life and it can also feel kinda gross the more aware you are of what’s going on. I watch the people that spend the good majority of their day commenting, liking and engaging, they are the ones that see the biggest growth, they get the features from larger outlets. As unfair and strange as it can be, it’s also the nature of this weird, virtual popularity game. I’m both envious (albeit momentarily) of their commitment at this level and simultaneously I am also 100% positive I could never spend that amount of time with my phone in my hand, ignoring the real world. It’s just not how I wish to expend my energy, no matter how much it could change my online clout.
I find myself envious of the people whose jobs are separate of the virtual world and they simply get to use social media for fun, to stay connected, to explore, to lurk just to be inspired, their feeds existing solely to share the special, silly and simple moments of life. As this strange world of blogging and social media-influencing has very quickly evolved over the past few years, we are all connected in so many different places and yet, strangely enough in so many ways I often find myself more disconnected and alone than ever before.
I digress however. While it sounds like I am complaining about the social media world, a world that has played a huge role in the success of my work, it’s more that these feelings have been nagging away at me this week. I have felt a want to step away and yet I am a smart enough business woman to know that would be career suicide. So in the meantime, I continue to create and share, share and create. My most recent creation, this autumn-inspired Caramel Apple Butter!
I say this every year, but I truly believe that apples get the shaft when it comes to fall. Everything is so centered around pumpkin. Apples MUST get their due and I truly believe this is the Caramel Apple Butter is the best way to celebrate those sweet and tart crunchy fall babes. The rich, honey-sweetened caramel sauce adds creamy sweetness to the standard apple butter, offset by just a hint of tartness, as it should be. Spread it on toast, pancakes or waffles or use it as a dip for other fruit, try it swirled into some chia seed pudding, yogurt, porridge or oatmeal. Try it in a smoothie. This apple butter would also be great to fill little tarts or pastries, or just eat it with a dang spoon – you know you want to.
Also, just an FYI, this luscious caramel is so freakin’ good on it’s own, consider this your warning. You WILL want to eat the entire bowl. Resist the urge. The caramel must make it to the apple butter. Do not abort your mission. Be sure to pass go!
Pssst, the best part about this recipe? We leave the peels on, as they contain a large amount of the pectin which yields a much thicker final result. This means less work, which we can all appreciate. This slow cooker apple butter does in-fact require a few steps on the stove top, to create the luscious honey-sweetened caramel, but I can tell you that it is absolutely worth it, yielding a unique version of this classic recipe! This makes a great gift and it also freezes great. I placed the excess apple butter in wide mouthed mason jars and left enough room for expansion. It froze perfectly and once defrosted the texture was still totally on point. (You of course always run the risk of glass breaking when freezing, so you can also freeze in plastic containers or freezer bags)
- 4-5lb firm apples (about 12-14) - I used Fuji Apple
- ¾ cup water
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2½ cups full-fat canned organic coconut milk
- 1 cup honey (I prefer a light-colored raw honey)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Core the apples and cut into eights. I leave the peels on, as I find that the pectin in the peels helps contribute to a thicker final product, you can peel if you'd like. Place the apples into the slow cooker and dd the water and apple cider vinegar.
- Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours. You want the apples to get very tender.
- In a medium-sized, heavy bottom pan over medium-high heat, add the coconut milk, honey, sea salt and vanilla extract. Bring to an active simmer and then promptly reduce the heat to medium-low and allow to barely simmer untouched for about 55-60 minutes. The color should darken to a rich dark amber color and it should reduce by about half. Near the end, be sure to stir the caramel often, so it doesn't burn too much, a little sticking and browning is good, it enhances the rich caramel flavor. Once it has reduced and it's thick and luscious, remove from the pan and place in a glass bowl to cool down and thicken.
- Once the apples are very tender, use a slotted spoon to remove the apples (leaving the liquid behind and then pour it off) and place in a food processor or a high speed blender, process until the apples are pureed and mostly smooth. You may have to work in batches depending on the size of your blender or food processor. It is wise to leave the small lid off of the blender or the food processor to allow the hot steam to escape. You can also use an immersion blender.
- With the motor of the food processor or blender running, stream the caramel into the bowl with apples and purée until super silky and smooth. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice, continue to process until mixed in.
- Pour the apple butter back into the slow cooker (be sure you poured off the excess liquid that was left in there) and cook with the lid slightly ajar for another 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, until you reach your desired darkness and thickness.
- Store in the refrigerator in airtight glass jars or containers. Will keep up to 2 weeks in the fridge. It freezes wonderfully, too.