Peel the apples. Stand the apple upright and cut all four sides off, as close to the stem as possible without actually cutting through the stem. (You’ll lose a tad of apple, but this way, you are coring and cutting the apple at the same time. Give the cores to the kids to gnaw on while you finish the latkes.) Roughly cut apples into large chunks.
Place apples in a medium sauce pan. Add water or juice, plus the sugar and cinnamon stick. Cover and cook over medium heat, until apples are soft (they should feel mushy), about 15 to 20 minutes. (Check the apples halfway through. If the pan is dry, add another ¼ cup liquid.)
Remove cinnamon stick and purée apples using an immersion blender, potato masher, food processor, blender or food mill.