Why is it that sometimes the ugliest food tastes the best? It’s almost like the universe is testing you. Will you look past the hideous façade to dig deep into the deliciousness that is hidden under the less-than-lovely surface? It’s the Ugly Duckling writ in food.
Such is the case with these cookies. Craggy, brown, lumpy, and all together unphotogenic, all I can say to these cookies is, “Why? WHY?” because all doubt vanishes with the first buttery, oatmeal-apple-and-caramel studded bite of chewy, perfect cookie. And while they certainly won’t any looks contests, they could win a blind taste test all day long.
These aren’t your average oatmeal cookies, by any stretch of the imagination. The normal raisin treatment is replaced with chopped, dried apples. Amping up the apple quotient is a grated tart apple in the cookie dough. Tiny little caramel baking bits mark the cookies abundantly. It’s fall in a cookie, friends.
My husband -God love ‘im- couldn’t walk away from the cooling rack of cookies. I was obliged to hide the rest of the cookies. Later that night, as we sat on the couch, after he had found my cookie cache and had yet another cookie in his hand, he moaned, “I’m addicted to these cookies, honey! Don’t make them ever again!”
Here’s the thing; you’re going to want to save a few of these cookies. Do yourself a favour and save an even number of them, okay? I hate to tease, but I’m going to do precisely that… I have something else you’re going to want to do with these later this week. Mercifully, they freeze well, so if you wrap them up in a double layer of plastic wrap and then a layer of foil, they’ll hold up beautifully in the freezer. Do eet. Trust me.
- Use whichever dried apples you like best. I tend to like the ones that are a little softer than the brittle, crispy ones, but I’ve tried it and it was delicious both ways.
- Ditto on vanilla. Regular pure vanilla is absolutely fine, but if you *happen* to have a bottle of Whiskey Vanilla Extract lying around, it’s sublime in these cookies!
- Caramel Baking Bits. I’ve called for them before (HERE) and a few folks had trouble locating them. Bulk foods stores, Amazon.com, baking supply stores, and better stocked groceries are good sources for them. If all else fails, you can use the church-of-the-last-resort solution and cut up chewy caramel candies into 1/4-inch pieces. The bits are FAR more convenient both for baking and midnight snacking, but you didn’t hear it from me.
- Line that pan, friend! Parchment or silpats are your best friend for crying-free cookie removal from pans. Either is fine, just do use them. A greased pan ain’t gonna save you with these sticky little beauties.
- Pull the cookies when they’re set around the edges, and most of the way up the cookie, but not necessarily brown. They’ll continue to darken as they cool.
- Don’t be in a hurry to lift the cookies. You want them to rest on the pan at least 2 minutes before sliding the silpat or parchment onto a heat-safe counter or cooling rack. After they’re fully cool, you can lift them with a spatula. They’re delicate when they’re warm, and almost indestructible when cooled.
- Store the cookies in an airtight container or cookie jar at room temperature for up to a week. (As if they’ll last that long.) If, for some incomprehensible reason you think you can’t eat them that quickly (or you want to hide them from husbands/children/wives/neighbors who can’t control themselves around the cookies) you can double wrap them in plastic, then again in foil, and freeze for up to a month. Beyond that, they’ll be a little crumbly, which makes them fit for topping a bowl of vanilla ice cream, but not much else.
Let’s get all Hans Christian Anderson on these cookies, shall we?
Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookies
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 stick plus 6 additional tablespoons, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tart apple grated
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 6 3/4 ounces by weight
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 cups old fashioned or quick oats
- 1 cup chopped dried apples
- 1 cup caramel baking bits
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Line baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, and grated apple until it's a cohesive mixture and is even.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Beat that into the egg and butter mixture until even. Stir in the oats, dried apples, and caramel baking bits.
- Scoop by medium cookie scoop or tablespoon onto the prepared pans, spacing the cookie dough mounds about 2-inches apart to allow for spreading in the oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the cookies are set around the edges and most of the way toward the center. Let them rest on the pans 2 minutes before carefully sliding the silpat or parchment onto a heat-proof counter or cooling rack. Let them cool completely before removing with a spatula.
- Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.