I will be making these muffins later today (minus the dates), and one of the ingredients is applesauce. I have been making my own applesauce fairly often as of late, and figured I might as well do that for this recipe too (since it only calls for 1/2 a cup, that means plenty of leftovers for actual eating, which is a plus). It's actually pretty easy and quick to do.
Start with four peeled apples.
Slice them into eighths.
In a pot, combine 1 cup of orange juice (don't worry, you don't actually taste it in the end, it just adds to the tartness), one cinnamon stick, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and 1/8 tsp cloves. Add the apples, bring to boil, and then simmer for 30 minutes.
Once your time's up, remove from heat, take out the cinnamon stick, and, using a potato masher or fork, mash the apples.
It ends up looking something like this. You could eat it now, but I prefer to leave it in the fridge for a few hours to cool.