Inspired by an apple caramel cookie we had at a local orchard, these cookies are, well I might even say… better. Mine are smaller and you’ll sadly be having them at home rather than atop a gorgeous orchard mountain but this recipe gives you cookies that are much chewier, there’s more oats, more apple flavor and they have a big puddle of caramel in the center. That homemade touch, if you will.
To make these I built off my one yolk oatmeal cookies (doubled is always necessary because they are gone in a flash) and incorporated freeze dried apples and swapped quick cooking oats for rolled oats. Once scooped, smush a chewy caramel in the center and shape the dough around it so it doesn’t seep out in the oven. These are good right out of the oven (don’t burn your tongue!), 10 minutes later or days later. They are SO CHEWY and full of flavor.
Butter: Should be at room temperature so it beats well with the sugar and absolutely don’t use salted butter here. Controlling the salt level is important!
Brown sugar: Light brown is what I used (sometimes dark brown can throw off the spread because of it’s higher molasses content but it could work).
Baking soda: Not to be confused with baking powder.
Vanilla: For flavor, don’t skip it.
Rolled Oats: Old Fashioned Rolled oats are flat disks, and are unlike quick cooking which has undergone more processing so you don’t see the whole ‘groat’ that has been flattened.
All purpose flour: Any protein level should be fine, I used KAF’s AP in mine.
Egg yolks: Large yolks from large eggs. If you use smaller egg yolks the texture will change.
Freeze dried apples: These will come in pouches near the nut isle of the grocery store. It doesn’t matter what kind of apples you use but honeycrisp or cinnamon flavored apples might lend more flavor to the dough.
Caramels: Soft, chewy caramels. Avoid the very popular brand that makes these in square shape and opt for something a bit more rectangular and tastier.
Salt: adjust this based on whether or not your caramels are salted. Less if they are, more if they are not. Fine sea salt is my go to.
Preheat the oven and line the pans
I grease my cookie sheets so the parchment paper sticks to them. You can use the back of the butter wrapper for this, just spread it over the bottom of the pan.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. If you have an additional thermometer check that before you put the cookies in (my oven is always off so I have, err, three internal thermometers. Sane people only need one.)
Beat butter & sugar
The butter should be soft enough to indent easily when you press it. Use a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to beat it with the brown sugar until it’s light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. If I remember, while I’m beating I like to add the salt, vanilla and cinnamon at this stage so it gets incorporated into the fat and improves the flavor.
Beat in the yolks
For just 30-45 seconds. Until incorporated.
Fold in the oats, flour and apple powder
This will be very gentle, stop as soon as you can spot any more dry streaks of flour/apples or uncoated oats.
Portion the cookies and shape the balls of dough around a caramel
I’ll usually portion all of the cookies first, using a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop (disher). Then unwrap as many caramels as I need, but leave them on their wrapper. Your hands are about to get doughy and messy.
Press your thumbs into the bottom of the cookie dough and smush the caramel into the center. Then wrap the dough around the caramel but leave a hole at the top so that the caramel will be exposed after baking.
Until they are nicely spread, the caramel is bubbling and the edges are deep golden. When they come out of the oven and they’re still sticky, sprinkle on some flaky sea salt.
Once completely cool you can store them in an airtight container. They’ll stay chewy for days!
Where can I get freeze-dried apples?
Almost any grocery store will have them; check near the nuts. These are the ones I used.
What kind of caramels should I use?
Soft, chewy caramels. You can get them salted or unsalted. If yours are salted like mine, keep the salt level low as I have. If yours are not and you’d like a saltier taste, you can double the amount of salt in the recipe and add flaked sea salt on top. These are the ones I used (TJ’s sells the exact same ones in a transparent tub like this).
Can I use a different kind of oat?
I’d advise against it. Different oats absorb moisture so quick cooking versus rolled oats tend to behave differently and I can’t guarantee a good spread and texture.
How can I make the dough and store it to bake later?
Once shaped with the caramel, flash freeze the dough balls on a plate (about 10 minutes) then transfer them to a ziplock bag and store them in the freezer (they’ll last months). When it’s time to bake them, either let the dough come to room temperature or add a couple more minutes to bake time.
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