It’s getting close to my favorite season… cookie season! Since I’ve been able to operate the oven on my own, the holiday season has always meant baking as many cookies as possible. So, it was about time to start brainstorming new recipes!
These cookies use both applesauce and fresh apple chunks, packing them with delicious apple flavors. They’re also spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, making them a delicious fall/winter treat. I decided to pair these with a homemade dulce de leche (easily made from sweetened condensed milk), so they’re sort of like caramel apple cookies!
I actually tested two different apple cookie recipes that I created and this was my favorite out of the two. The recipe is sort of strange (trust the process!) and the batter is a little bit softer and stickier than you might be used to. But that’s what I liked about them. They spread out to become thin in the oven but they stay nicely moist and soft.
For the apples, granny smiths are best. They stay tart and the texture after baking is perfect! But they can be substituted for any other tart apple. Make sure to cut them into small cubes so that there can be apples in every bite. The dulce de leche is optional but I’ve added instructions on how to make it from a can of sweetened condensed milk. It makes much more than you probably need, but add it to ice cream or eat with fresh apples.
These cookies are best 5 minutes out of the oven but store any leftovers in an airtight container. They should keep for up to 1 week. Enjoy!
Apple Cookies w/ Dulce de Leche
For the dulce de leche:
- 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
For the cookies:
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1 cup apples, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
Make the dulce de leche:
- Make the dulce de leche ahead of time (it needs to cool). Take all labeling and scrub off all glue on the can of condensed milk. Place the can in a large pot and fill with water. The water must be able to cover the can entirely, or else it may overheat too quickly (try to get it to be over 2-inches above). Bring the pot of water to a boil and then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook the can of condensed milk for 2-3 hours (2 for a light brown, 3 for a darker color). Refill the pot with more water whenever it reduces too close to exposing the can.
- After the 2-3 hours are up, remove the can from the pot of water and place on a wire rack to cool. You want the can to be completely cooled before opening (you don't want it to explode!). Dulce de leche can be made a day in advance.
Make the cookies:
- Make sure your granny smith apples are cut into small cubes. Place in a bowl with lemon juice and cover with plastic wrap. Let soak in the fridge until needed.
- Cream the butter and brown sugar together. Add the egg and mix well.
- In a separate bowl, sift the flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together.
- Add the flour mixture and applesauce to the creamed mixture alternatively (flour, then applesauce, then flour again, etc.). Mix well after each addition.
- Add the vanilla extract last and mix. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.
- Add apples to the mixture after it's been in the refrigerator for a bit. Try not to get too much liquid added. Cover and refrigerate again for at least 15 minutes, if not longer.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
- Once cookie batter is refrigerated, use a spoon to carefully place cookie batter about 2" apart. This batter is very soft and sticky, so try your best to just get it into a circular shape.
- Place in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and edges are crisp.
- Drizzle dulce de leche on top and enjoy warm!