dessert Archives - Birdseed Kitchen

Honeycrisp Applesauce

Honeycrisp Applesauce

What goes better with latkes than Honeycrisp Applesauce?

Actually, sour cream does. Sour cream is THE first-place, definitive latke topping. Trick question! But this Honeycrisp Applesauce is also an absolute requirement for any latkes we make. And – bonus! – your house will smell of apples, cinnamon, and vanilla when you make it.

This recipe makes a big batch: about 2.5 quarts. This year, I used 12 honeycrisp apples, which tend to be on the large size as apples are measured. That’s a lot of peeling, but I was fortunate to have just picked up a new vegetable peeler, which was (and still is) nice and sharp. Those apples practically jumped out of their skins.

So, grab your sharpest peeler, a big bowl of apples, and turn on your favorite program to binge-watch. (Maybe The Good Place? Or The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel?) (Some of these are affiliate links.) Homemade applesauce is totally worth the prep. And once you have the apples chopped, the cooking is mostly hands-off.

I’ve used a variety of apples for applesauce in the past, including Braeburn, Fuji, and Pink Lady. This year, I wanted to get as much natural sweetness from the apples as I could, and use less added sugar. I ended up getting by with just one tablespoon of brown sugar for the entire recipe! That’s not a lot of added sugar at all per serving, so I’m going to continue to enjoy this applesauce as a dessert during Sugar Free January (2018.)

A lot of applesauce recipes call for softer apples because they cook down more easily. Because I prefer a chunky-textured applesauce, I tend to go for more flavorful apples, regardless of texture. More chunks make this applesauce feel more like a dessert dish and less like a sauce. But if you would like your applesauce to be smoother, you could puree it with an immersion blender a few times.

If you’re looking for the perfect latkes to go along with this Honeycrisp Applesauce (and sour cream, of course), check out my Potato Latkes recipe.

Honeycrisp Applesauce

Honeycrisp Applesauce

Course Side Dish
Servings 20 1/2-cup servings


  • 12 honeycrisp apples peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground Vietnamese cinnamon I like Penzeys
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  1. Peel and core apples. Chop into large chunks. (No need to be particular about the actual size, but it's a good idea to keep them all about the same size.)

  2. Add apples to a large stockpot with water, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

  3. Simmer over medium-low heat, covered, for about 20-25 minutes, or until apples are soft and can be broken up with a spoon.

  4. Add vanilla. Remove from heat. Break up large remaining chunks with the back of a large spoon until the applesauce is the consistency you like. You can also use an immersion blender if you like a smoother consistency.

  5. Serve warm, or store in refrigerator or freezer. Makes about 2.5 quarts.


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Bengal Spice Chai Muddy Buddies

Bengal Spice Muddy Buddies - chai spice flavor muddy buddies

Bengal Spice Chai Muddy Buddies: a chai-flavored snack made from a sweet herbal tea with the flavors of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, black pepper, cloves and nutmeg.

I am a life-long fan of Chex Mix. Mom made some every year along with the Christmas cookies and candies, and it was a welcome break from all the sweetness. She used the original recipe, made with melted margarine, garlic powder, onion powder, and more than a little worcestershire sauce. Sometimes we made a hot-and-spicy version.

I’m not sure who came up with the idea for muddy buddies, the sweet version of Chex mix (a.k.a. “puppy chow”) but I want to knight that person with a wooden spoon. (“I dub thee… Sir Sweetus of Chexington!”) The first time I had muddy buddies, they were the (original, I assume?) chocolate and peanut butter version – Chex cereal, coated with a mix of melted chocolate chips and peanut butter, then enrobed in velvety powdered sugar. They are the original, and probably the best, version of muddy buddies.

The first new flavor of muddy buddies I encountered was snickerdoodle. Besides being a great insult and/or substitute swear word when you’re around the kids, the snickerdoodle is one of my favorite cookies. It’s chewy and soft, like all cookies should be, and it’s my dad’s favorite cookie. So the snickerdoodle muddy buddies were very addictive, and the bag didn’t last long. Soon I was roaming around Pinterest, looking for a recipe.

Find one I did – and now I have the power to create a portable snickerdoodle snack in less than 15 minutes, using only one bowl and no oven. Whelp. Pinterest, you are my weakness.

As it turns out, there are many creative versions of muddy buddies out there as well: mint chocolate, s’mores, chocolate churro, cookie butter (speculoos! – I never miss a chance to say that), Nutella, butterbeer, samoaunicorn poop… and the list goes on. I started thinking about how I could infuse different flavors into my own muddy buddy versions, and I thought the chai-like flavors of Celestial Seasonings’ Bengal Spice Tea would make a delicious sweet snack.

The flavors in this herbal tea infuse readily into melted butter. I melt the butter together with the tea in a small saucepan, simmer on low (barely bubbling) for about 10 minutes, then strain the solids out and press them to extract all the butter. Then, because I like a strong, spicy flavor, I add a teaspoon of the grounds back into butter while it’s being mixed with melted white chocolate. If this is too strong for you, add less than a teaspoon.

Bengal Spice Muddy Buddies

I’m already thinking about the next flavor-infused muddy buddies I’ll make. Green tea? Earl grey? Or… what about coffee?

Bengal Spice Muddy Buddies

Bengal Spice Chai Muddy Buddies

Course Snack
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings 16 servings


  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 5 bags Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice Tea
  • 2 cups Ghirardelli White Chocolate Chips (1 11-oz bag)
  • 8 cups Corn Chex cereal
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar


  1. Add powdered sugar to a gallon-sized zipper bag and set aside.

  2. In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Open teabags and tea to the butter. Stir to combine.

  3. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Mixture should be barely bubbling. Make sure the butter does not burn.

  4. Remove from heat. Pour through a fine strainer and press on the grounds to remove all of the butter.

  5. Add 1 tsp of grounds to the butter mixture and set aside.

  6. In a large bowl, microwave white chocolate chips on 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. When chips are completely melted, add butter and stir well.

  7. Pour melted chocolate over cereal, and gently fold to combine.

  8. Pour immediately into zipper bag. Seal bag and shake to coat cereal.

  9. Spread on cookie sheet. Cool for at least one hour. Store in a tightly-sealed container.


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