Kids are funny when it comes to food. One week they love to eat something and the very next week they hate it. When they're loving something they simply can't get enough of it. They beg you to buy it in bulk and it's almost as if they're out to prove something by inhaling it as fast as possible. They ask you for more and you oblige because you are thrilled they're eating real food. Then one day, with all the dramatic disgust they can muster, they hate that food and look at you as if you've two heads when you say, "but you loved it last week."
Such is life with kids. Just when you think you get a handle on something it changes. For months my son was on an apple jag. He became obsessed with the mini-sized Honeycrisp apples and was eating them at least three times a day. Every meal centered around an apple and honestly I was thrilled. I could've cared a less about their high price tag. I couldn't buy enough of them. Then all at once I noticed the fruit basket was staying full and the apples hadn't been touched and just like that, he was done.
I was hoping he would continue to love apples the same way he's continued to love rice krispies treats, but no such luck. So I set about finding a recipe to use up my apple stash and when I came across Ina Garten's Raspberry Roasted Applesauce I knew I found a winner.
I fell in love with the idea of roasting apples with raspberries, brown sugar, and cinnamon and letting their delicious aroma fill the house. I fell in love with the idea of topping the warm applesauce with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and watching it melt into the sauce. Mostly, I fell in love with the idea of making a beautifully hued ruby red applesauce.
I do have a few suggestions if you chose to make this. First of all, the recipe as written, will make enough to feed an army. I think Ina wrote it so that each person gets about one full cup of applesauce, along with a scoop of ice cream. I love sweets, but this is far too much for one person so I would suggest cutting this recipe in half if you're not feeding an army. Even half the recipe is enough for 6-8 people. Secondly, depending on your apples, you may or may not want to reduce, or eliminate, the brown sugar. I couldn't find the Macoun apples Ina called for so I used a mix of Granny Smith and Honeycrisp. I didn't even think about their sweetness when I added the brown sugar and my applesauce was quite sweet. It wasn't cloyingly sweet and I still enjoyed it, but I think I could've gotten by without adding any brown sugar at all, or very little, just for flavor.
This applesauce is delightful on it's own, but a scoop of good-quality vanilla ice cream makes it practically irresistible!
This is a perfect dessert for the holidays because it can be made ahead. In fact, it's even better made a day or two in advance because the flavors get a chance to develop. Simply warm it up, scoop some ice cream, top with orange zest and you're set. I especially like the idea of having this applesauce as a lighter option for those who want a little something sweet but aren't into rich heavy desserts after a big holiday meal. A total winner!
Raspberry Roasted Applesauce
Adapted from Cooking For Jeffrey
by Ina Garten
Zest and Juice of 2 large oranges
Zest and Juice of 1 lemon
3 pounds Granny Smith apples (6 to 8 apples)
3 pounds sweet red apples, such as Macoun (6 to 8 apples)*
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed*
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
12 ounces fresh raspberries (2 pkgs.)
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Orange zest, for serving
*Note: I halved the recipe above and feel it was still enough to serve 6-8 people, especially once topped with ice cream. I couldn't find Macoun apples so I used Honeycrisp and I would recommend eliminating the brown sugar or reducing it.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the zest and juice of the oranges and lemon in a large (11-inch) ovenproof pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Peel, quarter, and core the apples and add them to the pot, tossing them with the juices as you go.
Add the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and raspberries, cover, and bake for 1 to 1-1/4 hours, until the apples are very soft. Stir vigorously with a wire whisk. The applesauce will be smooth but still have a lot of texture. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream and a dusting of orange zest.