This recipe, if you can even call something this simple a recipe, is all about a technique that also happens to be one of my favorite words: macerate. Isn’t that a lovely word? It evokes what happens when you macerate fruit; it gets all juicy and a little squishy and all the goodness runs out to make it’s own syrupy sauce. Yum.
Again, this is another thing that doesn’t really have a recipe, but I’ll do my best. Serve it over vanilla ice cream as we do most of the time, or in strawberry shortcake, or in a yogurt parfait, or on oatmeal, or on pancakes or waffles…You get the idea. It’s good on everything.
Vanilla Macerated Strawberries
white sugar, to taste, but at least a couple tablespoons
half a vanilla bean
1. Slice the half vanilla bean in two lengthwise, then scrape the seeds into a bowl with the strawberries and sugar. Mix thoroughly, then let sit on the counter or in the fridge for 30 minutes. Mix again, then serve. The sugar will bring out all the juices from the fruit and create a syrup. You don’t have to eat this right away, but the fruit breaks down the longer it sits, so I usually use it within a day, otherwise the strawberries start losing their color and get mushy.
Applesauce is OK. Homemade applesauce with brandy, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick is way, way better. This stuff is like eating apple pie filling. Maybe add some pastry crust for a mock apple pie? I like mine chunky, so I just use a potato masher. But if you like it smooth, use a stick blender. This is based off a recipe I found in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel a few years ago.
Applesauce with Brandy, Vanilla and Cinnamon
6 lbs firm, tart apples; I use Jonagold
1 whole vanilla bean
1/2 c apple cider
lemon or lime juice to taste, about a couple teaspoons
3 large cinnamon sticks
brown sugar to taste, about 1/2 cup
1/4 c brandy
1. Peel, core and roughly chop your apples. If you have one of those apple peeler/corer/slicer things, now’s the time to use it. Just take off the little corer/slicer thingy so it just peels them. You’ll end up with apple skin garland!
2. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out. Throw the seeds, the pod and everything else into the pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring every couple minutes, making sure to smoosh the cinnamon and vanilla bean into the liquid.
3. The apples are done when they’re still holding their shape. Mash with a potato masher or stick blender. If you’re worried about the sauce being too thin or watery, reserve some of the liquid and add it back in as necessary as you mash.
Chill if you like, but this sauce is great warm or at room temperature as well!