Apple sauce muffins

IMG_5196Before I had a child, I always mentally classified apple sauce as a foolproof kid food. It’s sweet, it’s fruity, it doesn’t require chewing…what isn’t there to like? According to my son, a lot. For whatever reason, he hates apple sauce. Like, will throw a tantrum if I so much as imply that apple sauce might be present within 50 feet of his lunch or dinner plate. I knew this when I purchased a large Grocery Outlet container of apple sauce for the spice ornaments (which are still fragrant on the tree, by the way) and had intended to eat much of it myself, but even I can only eat so much monochromatic, unsweetened apple mush. Thankfully this old family recipe (one of my husband’s childhood favorites, the recipe hand-lettered on an index card by his grandmother) is an easy, inexpensive, KID-APPROVED use for leftover apple sauce.

It’s rare to see a muffin recipe these days using shortening, so if getting your ’60s on and spooning out half a cup of Crisco REALLY bothers you, feel free to substitute butter or oil. That said, I’ve tried substituting various fats and can say with some authority that shortening really does make for a better muffin in this case.

Also, fresh spices are paramount here, as they provide the majority of the flavoring. Holiday-baking time is the perfect occasion to jettison all those old, flavorless powders (see spice ornaments, above).

Makes 12 muffins.


• 1/2 cup shortening
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
• 1 egg
• 1 tsp vanilla extract

• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1/2 tsp cloves
• 1/2 tsp nutmeg
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1/2 tsp baking powder

Sift together the last 7 ingredients. (Make sure the spices are fresh. Newly ground, if possible.)

Cream together the shortening and sugars with a hand or stand mixer, then add apple sauce, egg, and vanilla, mix until combined. Fold in flour-and-spices mixture, mix until just combined. Bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. They keep in an airtight container for a couple days, then can be wrapped individually in plastic wrap and frozen for months. (Reheat at 50% power in the microwave, or just leave out for an hour or two.)

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