Caramel Pumpkin Applesauce with Crunchy Topping – $.44

I think I need a section for recipes that aren’t necessarily “healthy” but not as bad as a fried Twinkie. I just had to share this one with you. I got in a little over my head and I bought a big bag of apples. I don’t eat them as quickly as I thought… so I wanted to make applesauce, or fried apples, or apple crisp because the gorgeous Fall weather has inspired me.

Before you get started on this, there’s something you should know. I use caramel in the recipe—or at least, my version of it that I learned while living overseas. Just take a can of sweetened condensed milk, take the whole can (don’t open it), and put it in boiling water for 2-3 hours. That’s it. Seriously. Just make sure to keep re-filling the pan with water so it doesn’t evaporate all away. (Not my picture…)

If you open it after 2 hours, it’ll be a little lighter, and if you cook it more like 3 hours, it’ll be a little darker and richer. I recommend boiling a few cans at a time and keeping them on hand in your shelf. The BEST apple dip EVER. Feel free to use your own caramel recipe or store-bought caramels.

So I started with peeling & chopping up about 10 apples.

Don’t worry about chopping them pretty, but let me give you a few pointers on how to chop them quickly.

Make a cut right outside the core. It may take you a few times to gauge where exactly you should cut without hitting the seeds.

Then rotate and cut again.

And again…

Leaving you with square cores. If you feel bad about the waste, snack on ‘em later, let your kids nibble on them as they watch you cook, or compost ‘em.

That’ll give you 4 big chunks. Now just chop them roughly. I had a tiny little cutting board next to the ground, so when I chopped normally (with the heel of the knife), I got apples everywhere. Instead, use the tip of the knife so your apples stay put. It’s much cleaner and faster.

That’s about 10 apples worth of chunks.

Now put a few tablespoons of butter or oil (I always use butter with apples…shhh), in a big pot. Put your apples right on top. Add a pinch of salt and cook on medium-high heat.

After a few minutes, add your spices. I used cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and ground cloves. I’m not gonna tell you how much of each for 3 reasons: 1) I have no idea how much I used. 2) I’d have to kill you. 3) Use your judgement and your preference.

{Rabbit trail} Hate ginger? Don’t use it! Don’t know how much cinnamon to use? Come on, use common sense: Would you use a cup of cinnamon? Would you use just a tiny pinch for 10 apples? Nope. Just use what looks good. A few shakes.

Anyway, once the spices are in, add a few tablespoons of brown sugar and keep stirring and cooking on medium high heat for about 5 more minutes. When you heat up the spices, it sort of wakes them up from being all dried out in a cabinet all those months/years.

Once you start to feel uncomfortable and think your apples are either getting too brown or sticking to the bottom, go ahead and add about 4-6 cups of water…ish. I didn’t measure. {By the way, if you’d rather make this into a type of crumble, only add a tiny bit of water and cook for a few minutes, then add to a pan and put the raw crunchy stuff on top then bake.}

If you want it really, really mushy and ground up, add the lid and keep cooking on low heat for about… I don’t know, 30-45 minutes? If you want it chunky and a bit more flavorful, keep the lid off and cook on low heat until it’s as thick as you like it.

About halfway through the cooking process, add your pumpkin. I only had ½ can, but if I had a whole can, I probably would have used it, but that’s all I could steal from my roommate. With ½ can, you can taste the pumpkin but it’s not too strong.

Add your caramel now too. I only used ½ can. I would suggest using ½ can first and making sure it’s not too sweet. Feel free to use the whole thing if you want.

By the end, I probably ended up using at least a few teaspoons of salt. If you sweeten it too much, add a few pinches of salt. It helps. Kinda like salted caramel. Yum…

Just let that cook on low while you get your crumbly stuff ready. In a mixing bowl, add some walnuts, almonds, oats, and whatever else you want in it.

Then add about a tablespoon of flour, a few tablespoons of brown sugar, the same spices you used before: cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and ground cloves, a pinch of salt, a tablespoon or 2 of melted butter, another tablespoon of your preferred oil, and a few tablespoons of run-of-the-mill syrup.

Mix really, really well.

Spread it all out on a cookie sheet and cook at ~250* for ~45-60? minutes.

About every 10 minutes, I recommend checking on it and flipping it all around with a spatula.

I took mine out before it got really brown and it was perfect; crunchy but not too crunchy, buttery and sweet but not too much.

Serve cold, warm, or hot, with or without granola, with or without ice cream, and with or without drizzled caramel on top. Just sayin’! {I warmed it in the microwave, had it with vanilla ice cream and put the crumblies on top and oh. my. gosh. so. good.}

  • Bag of apples – $4.99 (~15 in a bag/10 apples for recipe=~$3.33)
  • Can of sweetened condensed milk: $1.78/2=$.89
  • Can of pumpkin: $1.68/2=$.84
  • Bag of walnuts:$3.20/2=$1.60
  • Total: $6.66 (whooooa, evil applesauce!) for at least 15 servings
  • Per Serving: $.44

About Ande Truman

Ande has made mistakes in the kitchen since she could reach the countertop. From a restaurant head cook, to cooking meals for friends, to her own solo plate, experimenting & learning drives her. She's also a freelance graphic & web designer, photo/videographer, guitar player and wanderlust-er. In her spare time, she works a full-time 8 to 5 cubicle job. She's the creator of Broke & Healthy.

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Categories: Apples, Dessert, Homestyle, Oatmeal, Pumpkin, Recipes, Recipes by Ingredient, Sides

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  4. Oh my this sounds absolutely heavenly and delicious. I can’t wait to try and make some for myself. Thanks for posting.