Punch Up The Flavor In Applesauce With A Dash Of Chinese Five-Spice

Applesauce has long been a beloved companion for many desserts, snacks, and various other foods. Comfort and nostalgia are woven together in its deep, sweet-tart notes, a subtle reminder of treasured memories that come alive in your kitchen. All applesauce needs to truly become the perfect comfort food is a hearty warmth. And this is easily achieved using the intense, robust spices that we all have sitting in the pantry. 

While it may be tempting to go for the familiars, perhaps you might want to try something a bit out-of-the-box, like Chinese five-spice, for example. Chinese five-spice is a spice blend consisting of star anise, ground cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns, and fennel seeds. Some variations may also include ginger root, orange peel, cardamom, or galangal. Each spice contributes its own distinct flavor, fusing into a peculiarly fascinating combination that can make any food much more gratifying. 

When added to applesauce, the peppery, licorice-like, earthy, and spicy notes of Chinese five-spice create an aromatic warmth that wraps the flavors in a cozy embrace. Contrasted by the apple's tart, fruity taste and honey-like sweetness, this sweet and spiced applesauce provides a beautiful interplay of flavors and aromas that's endlessly exciting.

A simple, spicy addition that is packed with potential

There are a few different ways to incorporate Chinese five-spice into your applesauce. The simplest method is to directly stir the ground powder into the simmering mixture of apple purée, sugar, cider, and other seasonings. You can also add it after you've made the applesauce, but the flavors won't be as intensely infused. 

Of course, if you happen to have all the individual ingredients at home, gather the spices, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, and fennel seeds into a small cloth and tie a knot to turn it into a makeshift bag. Then, put this spice bundle in the pot as you're cooking the applesauce and discard it near the end. As with plain applesauce, there are many different ways to serve this spiced version.

You can use it as a side dish for savory mains like grilled or roasted meat, patties, or even braised ribs. The contrast between the deep, smoky meat and this spicy, sweet sauce will take your meals to the next level. Additionally, it makes a perfect topping for ice cream, pastries, cookies, toast, and more. If you've got anything that's normally a bit bland and simple, just layer a few spoonfuls of your Chinese five-spiced applesauce over the top for an instant flavor transformation.