This Caramel Apple Pie Filling (Caramel Apple Compote) carries SO MUCH of what’s delicious about Fall in one spoonful! Softened apple cooked in caramel and spices for a delightfully fruity, sweet, and spicy filling. The perfect topping or filling for any dessert!
A jar of spiced caramel apple filling is the quintessential Fall treat. Make a big batch to last you through all of Fall!
If you’ve ever tried this flavor combo before, you know that apple, cinnamon, and caramel are a match made in heaven! Yes, apple pie is all kinds of delicious, but you can’t really have it every day, can you? But this caramel apple pie filling compote is PERFECT in little servings to jazz up any and all of your Fall desserts.
This is a super easy and versatile recipe. It’s a great addition to breakfasts, desserts, or even snacks!
What to expect from this recipe
- This is an apple compote recipe, with the apples cooked in a caramel and spice base. The caramel flavor deepens the overall flavor profile of this apple compote.
- The apples will be slightly soft and coated with a buttery, caramel spice sauce.
- You can eat this by the spoonful, straight from the jar. No judgements whatsoever!
- Step by step instructions so you know what to look for at each step. But a little variation is absolutely A-OK.
- This is a recipe for a single batch. For multiple batches, the cook time will vary, so keep an eye on the mix at each stage.
What you can make with this spiced caramel apple filling
- This is perfect as a filling for mini apple pies (hand pies).
- Use it as a topping for cinnamon oatmeal.
- Spread it on buttered toast for a delicious apple pie toast.
- Add it as a topping for yogurt, ice cream, or parfait.
- Use it as a filling for apple babka.
- Also great as a filling for cakes or cupcakes!
How to make this caramel apple pie compote
The first step is to prep the apples. Cut the apples into small cubes. To prevent them from browning, submerge the apples in cold water, mixed with a few tsp of lemon juice.
The second step is to caramelize half of the white sugar. This is what adds the caramel flavor to this caramel apple compote recipe.
How I caramelize the sugar
I use the dry caramel method to make caramel. For this method, the sugar is heated in a dry pan until caramelized.
Make sure there is no fat or moisture in the pan before melting the sugar. Then add the sugar in an even layer into the saucepan.
Heat over medium heat, and you will find the edges and bottom of the sugar starting to melt. Use a dry, clean spatula to gently stir the sugar to evenly melt it. The sugar will melt and turn into caramel very quickly, so it’s crucial to keep an eye on the caramel at all times!
How to add the rest of the ingredients
When the caramel sugar is almost ready, drain the water from the apples. Then add the apples into the caramel when it’s ready. The caramel will hiss, and that’s OK.
At the same time, add the cream, the rest of the sugar, and the spices. Stir the apple mixture until the caramel dissolves in the liquid.
At this stage, there will be a lot of liquid in the mix, and that’s OK too. Cook the apple mix, uncovered, while stirring regularly. The liquid in the mix should reduce by at least half. The time that it takes for this to happen will vary greatly, depending on how much moisture is introduced from the apples, the size of your saucepan, and the heat of your stove. So it’s important to check on it from time to time.
When the liquid has reduced, dissolve the cornstarch with a little water and add this slurry to the spiced caramel apple filling. Bring the mixture to a boil to thicken. Cook for at least 1 – 2 more minutes, or longer if you want the mixture to have less moisture.
Finally, add the vanilla and butter. Stir them in, and let the mix cool down slightly. Now the spiced caramel apple compote is ready!
How to store the caramel apple pie filling
Since one batch of this typically doesn’t last very long, I just store it in a glass jar or container with a tight lid. It’ll keep in the fridge for about a week. If I make multiple batches, then I freeze the extra apple compote and thaw it out as I need it.
Unfortunately, I haven’t tried to can this. So I don’t know if canning will work. If you give it a go, please do let me know if it works.
What other variations can you make?
If you want to make this vegan (or dairy free), substitute the cream with unsweetened coconut cream (or milk if you can’t find cream), and the butter with vegan butter.
For the spice mix, I use cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and a touch of cloves. But you can also use homemade or store-bought apple spice mix.
You can also leave out the salt, but the salted caramel flavor really is irresistible.
The result is a spiced apple compote with soft pieces of apple, in a deliciously caramelized spiced sauce! I don’t like too much liquid / sauce in my apple compote, so I cook it a little longer. Spiced caramel apple filling with less sauce is perfect to use as a filling for mini pies. There’s more flavor concentration that way too.
I also LOVE this caramel apple pie filling compote on top of buttered and toasted crusty bread! It’s like a cheat’s apple pie slice!
How would you enjoy this apple compote? 🙂
Caramel Apple Pie Filling (Caramel Apple Compote)
- 800 g honey crisp apples cores removed, about 5 – 6 (see recipe notes)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice optional
- 150 g white granulated sugar ¾ cup (for the caramel base)
- 100 g white granulated sugar or brown sugar ½ cup (see recipe notes)
- 2 tbsp cream
- Generous pinch of sea salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 1 ½ tbsp water
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp vanilla optional
- 57 g unsalted butter 4 tbsp
- Cut the apples into small cubes (about ½ inch / 1 cm in size). Place them in a bowl of water, with the lemon juice. Set aside until needed. This step is optional, but recommended for beginners OR if you’re not planning on making the caramel base right away.800 g honey crisp apples, 2 tbsp lemon juice
Dry caramel base
- In a medium to large pot, sprinkle the sugar evenly on the bottom of the pot. Make sure the pot is clean and dry before placing the sugar.150 g white granulated sugar
- Heat the sugar mix over medium heat. The sugar will start to melt at the bottom and at the edges. Using a clean spatula, gently mix the sugar to allow it to melt more evenly. Some clumping is expected and is OK.
- The sugar will start to change color and caramelize. Some spots will caramelize faster than others, so it’s important to stir or move the caramel around gently so that it caramelizes evenly.
- When the sugar is starting to caramelize, strain the apple pieces and have them ready to be added to the pot.800 g honey crisp apples
Making the caramel apple compote
- The caramel should be dark amber in color when you add the apples. When the sugar starts to turn dark amber in color, add the apples to the pot. The caramel will sizzle and steam at this point, so be careful!800 g honey crisp apples
- Add the cream and the leftover sugar (or brown sugar) to the mixture as well, and stir the apples until the caramel has dissolved in the liquid. The apple mixture in the pot may have a lot of liquid, almost covering the apples. The mixture will be cooked to evaporate the liquid.100 g white granulated sugar or brown sugar, 2 tbsp cream
- Add the salt and spices to the mix and stir the apples to coat. Bring the liquid to a boil.Generous pinch of sea salt, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ½ tsp nutmeg, ½ tsp ground cardamom, ¼ tsp ground cloves
- Cook the apples over medium heat, uncovered, while stirring frequently. The liquid in the pot should reduce by about ½ as it evaporates. This may take about 15 – 20 minutes, depending on the stove and pot you use.
- Make the cornstarch slurry by dissolving the cornstarch in the water. Set aside until needed.1 ½ tbsp water, 2 tsp cornstarch
- When the liquid has slightly thickened and reduced, mix the cornstarch slurry and add it to the apple mix.
- Stir to mix, and allow the mixture to come to a simmer and thicken. Cook for about 1-2 minutes. If you prefer less liquid in your apple compote, you can cook the apples for a few more minutes to further reduce the liquid.
- Once the mixture is thickened, add the vanilla and butter, and stir until the butter has melted.2 tsp vanilla, 57 g unsalted butter
- Place the apple compote in jars with tight-fitting lids.
- Transfer to the fridge to cool, and enjoy within 5 days.
Tips & Tricks
Note about the applesYou can also use granny smith, royal gala or pink lady, instead of honey crisp. I also keep the skin on, but you can peel the apples if you prefer.
Note about the sugarI use white sugar to get the caramel flavor. But the second amount of sugar (100 g) is to add sweetness. You can use either white sugar, or brown sugar for a slight molasses flavor. Either light brown or dark brown sugar is fine.
Note about the cook timeIf I use a 5 qt pot, the cook time is longer than with a larger pot with a larger surface area at the bottom. So I always go by how much of the water has evaporated as well as how soft the apples are to gauge when I need to add the cornstarch slurry.
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