Monday, September 1, 2014

Soft Maple Applesauce Cookies

When 30 lbs of apples show up on your doorstep (a surprise "leave the produce and run" drop-off from a friend), what do you do? We're dehydrating them, making apple jelly and apple butter, and applesauce cookies. This recipe assumes you have already made the applesauce, or you can use store-bought. The cookies are scrumptious and customizable. I made them with a boozy cream cheese/maple glaze, but without the glaze, sub chocolate chips, would be awesome, too. These cookies are wonderfully soft, but the flip side is that they're not too sturdy. Don't toss them into a backpack without any protection, or they'll be crumbs.

This recipe is a great balance between healthy, "power" food and dessert. It doesn't have too much butter; OK, there's plenty of sugar, but some of it was subbed out for maple syrup in my version; and it uses a good quantity of applesauce (I didn't want an applesauce cookie that just paid lip service to the apples; I had some serious quantities of applesauce to use up!). The end result is so tasty, soft, and chock-full of goodies.

I don't always glaze my cookies, but when I do, I make it boozy with a generous dash of some appropriate liquor. The liquor, of course, can be omitted for children's cookies. I wanted a firm cream cheese glaze for these cookies, but did not successfully make one. I'm not sure there is a good firm cream cheese based glaze (a straight powdered sugar based glaze firms up nicely for cookies). The boozy glaze I made below was delicious, but stayed soft. More experimentation is required!
Cream cheese glaze did not firm up. 

These cookies are naturally very soft because of all the applesauce. Nonetheless, a few extra tips for soft cookies:

  • Refrigerate the dough to chill. Scoop out chilled cookies, and transfer quickly to the pre-heated oven.
  • Don't over-bake! Look for the first signs of doneness and take them out immediately. When cool, they'll probably be perfect.

When I made these, I had to bake them one tiny tray at a time in the toaster oven. Our oven broke and we had to order a whole new range---Samsung doesn't make replacement parts for stoves over 5 years old. Our stove is only about six years old. Way to go, Samsung, making a product that breaks right after it becomes impossible to repair, but still way too young to be ruined.  We did not replace it with another Samsung!
Baking cookies one little tray at a time.

Soft Maple Applesauce Cookies

Note: This recipe was tested by me at about 7,000 ft in altitude. It will probably work great across a reasonable range of elevations above and below that. It is based on a sea level recipe with only minor altitude adaptations (indicated below).*

Adapted from these

1 3/4 cups oats
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda (minus 1/8th for altitude)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup applesauce
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup walnuts
1 cup chocolate chunks (optional - maybe leave out if you go for the glaze, for simplicity)

Boozy glaze (optional): 2 oz softened cream cheese, 1/3 cups powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp whiskey (or other liquor), 1 Tbsp maple syrup

In a large bowl, stir together the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar, then beat in an egg. Stir in the maple syrup and applesauce. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, folding in the raisins and walnuts at the end.

Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour. When ready, preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Heap the cookie dough onto the parchment (these should not spread too much, if at all). Bake for 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a rack or a plate to cool.

For the boozy glaze, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, whiskey, and maple syrup, and then continue to add maple syrup until the consistency is just runny enough to spread like a glaze. Drizzle over warm cookies.