Chocolate Apple Butter

I recently promised a coworker I'd bring her some apple butter, since she'd gone through the pumpkin butter I'd given her so quickly. Now that I'm finally starting to feel better, this seemed like a good way to get reacquainted with my kitchen. Conveniently, j at 365 Dollar Year was holding a "make something from scratch you might normally buy" challenge. Although I must confess that I never buy apple butter, I also never make it. So it seemed okay for the challenge even if it is stretching the rules just a touch. However, the rules also stipulate that you can't spend more than $5 to make whatever it is you're making, and since I only had one apple in the house, I went out and spent $2 on the rest of them, leaving me well below the budget rules. That compensates for the cheating above, right?

Anyway, I've eaten some apple butters, and I always feel like they're missing a little something. But I never know what that something is. I was poking about in my pantry when I saw the lovely bag of Penzey's cocoa powder and I figured that might make a nice addition to the butter. And holy cow I was right. I tasted it right after it came off the stove and I was astounded by how the cocoa just enriched the whole experience. Hope you enjoy!

7 apples (I used 5 granny smith, 1 red delicious, 1 yellow apple) - $2.33
6 cups of water (8 if you need to add a little more, like I did) - $0.01
1 cinnamon stick - $0.10
2 star anise - $0.15
15 allspice berries - $0.02
4 whole cloves - $0.03
1 slice dried galanga or ginger - $0.10
9 cardamom pods - $0.05
1 teaspoon salt - $0.01
2 black peppercorns - $0.01
1 large lemon (use all the juice and 9" of peel without pith) - $0.25
1/2 cup vanilla sugar - $0.40
1/4 cup brown sugar - $0.40
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons cocoa powder - $0.25-$0.50 (depending on the kind you use)

Peel, core and chop the apples. Put them in a saucepan with 6 cups of water, salt and the juice of your lemon. In a large tea ball, cheesecloth or whatever method you normally make to tie up a bouquet garnis-type thing, combine lemon rind, cinnamon, anise, allspice, cloves, galanga, cardamom, and peppercorns and then drop that little bundle into the saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for 1-2 hours, or until you can easily smush the apples with the back of a wooden spoon. Remove spice packet, then transfer to a blender and blend until smooth (or, if your blender is off camping for a while like mine is, either use an immersion blender or a potato masher or whatever you like to make it all smooth and puree-ey). Return to saucepan and add sugars and cocoa and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until it is thick enough that when you stir the bottom, you can see the part of the pot where you stirred for a couple seconds. Alternately, because there's so much water in there it'll take ages to do over low heat, you can put it at medium-high heat for about a half hour or until the volume is greatly reduced. Then when a lot of the water has boiled off, you can lower the heat and do the frequent stirring bit.

If you feel like canning this (I didn't can the part going to my friend, because she's not a jar returner, plus she'll eat it quickly enough it's not worth canning), you can do it in a water bath for about 10 minutes. Otherwise, put it in a container then the fridge and eat it within a couple weeks. Makes approximately 2 1/4 cups.

Total cost: $4.11 - $4.36, using approximate costs for the spices and such


  1. does it look as dark and tasty IRL as it does in that photo? 'Cause it looks like a big bowl of chocolate from here.

    rules schmules, good enough for me. How many cups did it make, would you guess- or did I miss where you already said?

  2. Yeah, it's just as dark IRL as in the photo, though I actually tried to brighten the photo up a little (I totally suck at pictures online for some reason).

    It makes about 2 1/4 cups, but I used the little "sale" apples in the bulk bin instead of the larger, more expensive apples. So it could make more if you're using big apples.

    Man, it is WAY WAY more tasty than I thought it'd be. It's a little spicy, a little sweet, a little tangy and the chocolate is kind of a mid-tone flavour instead of being the overriding flavour.

  3. Wow, that's like 50 cents a jar (if you leave out the costs of the jar and lid, of course). I think I know what everyone is getting for winter holidays this year.

  4. I will HAVE to try this sometime in the undefined future

  5. j.,

    Yeah, it's super cheap to make. But I think perhaps not so cheap if you don't already have a pretty diverse spice cabinet (well, maybe you could get the spices cheaply from the bulk aisle, though if you don't have vanilla beans with which to make vanilla sugar, definitely buy them from I think I might make some more during the holidays also. You're right that it's make a good gift (and it looks like chocolate pudding which makes me so so happy).

    Ruby Leigh,

    Please let me know how you like it!


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