Homemade applesauce doesn't mean standing over a hot stove. Simply core apples (peels on or off; your choice); microwave till soft; mash; and sweeten to taste. The combination of sweet applesauce and salty latkes simply can't be beat.
- Core the apples; peel them if you want ultra-smooth applesauce, but it's not necessary.
- Slice the apples, or cut them in 3/4" chunks.
- Place the prepared apples in a microwave-safe bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.
- Microwave for about 10 minutes, till the apples are soft.
- Remove from the microwave, and place on the counter to cool for 15 minutes or so; the plastic wrap will shrink down onto the apples.
- Carefully remove the plastic wrap (the apples will still be warm), and mash them using a pastry blender or potato masher. If you've left the peels on the apples, use a hand (stick) blender to coarsely chop skins/sauce.
- Add sugar to taste, and boiled cider, if desired, for enhanced flavor.
- Serve warm, at room temperature,or cold alongside latkes.
- Different types of apples make very different types of sauce. Fuji, Braeburn, and other hard red "eating apples" take longer to cook, and make a mahogany-colored sauce. Granny Smiths cook more quickly, and make a tart, brown-green sauce. We love to use windfall apples — apples that have fallen from the tree, and might be bruised, pockmarked, or otherwise disfigured. While not beautiful, their long stay on the tree — plus a touch of frost — make them beautifully sweet.
- Apple peels on, or off? If you're fussy, peel the apples. If you're not, don't mind bits or chunks of peel, and like a more natural sauce, full of fiber, leave the peels on. A whirl through the food processor (or a few pulses with a hand blender) will take care of any too-large pieces of peel.