Place the apples in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over low heat. Cook, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add the brown sugar and spices; continue cooking over low heat, stirring occasionally, until very thick, about 30 minutes more. To test for doneness, place a spoonful of the mixture on a white plate and let sit for 20 seconds. If a ring of liquid forms around the apples, there is still too much liquid in the mixture. Continue cooking and testing until no ring forms.
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, "Butter Sugar Flour Eggs" by Gale Gand, Rick Tramonto, Julia Moskin: Clarkson N. Potter Publishers, 1999