Cut the apples into quarters but don't peel or core them. Place into a crock pot. If they don't all fit, you can always add more as they cook down - I was only able to fit 11 apples in mine.
In a bowl, whisk together the apple cider, brown sugar, molasses, lemon juice, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom. Pour mixture over the apples. Nestle the vanilla bean and cinnamon stick in the apples. There's no need to scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean since you're putting the whole bean into the pot to infuse the apple butter.
Cover the crock pot and cook on low for 4-5 hours until apples are very soft. Scoop the apples and vanilla bean out of the pot (leave the cinnamon stick in the liquid), and run the apples through a food mill to separate the apple puree from the peel, core and seeds. Once you've squeezed out as much puree as possible, discard the peel, core and seeds and return the apple puree to the crock pot. Stir into the cooking liquid until smooth. Cover and cook on low for 2-3 more hours, stirring occasionally, until thick.
If you will not be eating the apple butter within a few months, can the apple butter following standard canning procedures. Otherwise, pour into glass jars and store in the refrigerator to eat within a few months.
Yields about 6 cups.