One of my favorite things about the cooling weather is the welcome return of hot, delicious beverages that warm you from the inside out. I like to imagine watching the changing foliage in Prospect Park and sharing a thermos full of hot chocolate or warm apple cider with someone special. Unfortunately, I usually dash into the nearest coffee shop to grab one in between jobs. My favorite seasonal drink, just like it is every year, is the Caramel Apple Spice at Starbucks. I also love the warm fresh apple cider from the green market, but there's just something about covering it up with whipped cream and caramel sauce that makes it even more delicious. The only problem is, a medium is pretty pricy so I can only get them every once in awhile and even though I worked at Starbucks after college and know exactly how to make them myself, they never taste the same - they usually taste better. It doesn't really matter where it comes from or who makes it, I just love the melding of creamy caramel and tart, spiced apple.
Well, one of my kids and I got to talking about our weekend baking projects and she told me that her plan was to make caramel apple spice cookies. What?! I've never heard of these and never imagined that my favorite Autumn warm-up bev could be baked into a cookie. As she was describing the artificial apple cider powder and pre-made caramels that were among the ingredients I thought to myself, 'I bet I could make a better version, just like I do with the drink.' And with that inspiration, I set about to concocting a variation of apple-y caramel-y goodness that would be fresh and from scratch because face it, everything's better when it's from scratch!
I decided that, rather than a stuffed cookie, I'd make a sandwich cookie because I thought it would be pretty tough to wrap homemade cookie dough around liquid caramel. With delicious Red Jacket Orchards Apple Cider from the green market, I made an apple spiced cookie and put my second batch of caramel in between them (I always mess up on the first batch of caramel.) Well, they came out wonderfully and I'm proud to say that they capture the flavor of a grande Caramel Apple Spice to the tee. The perfect cookie to enjoy with a warm drink and a special someone - me and Isabelle already ate more than we should have! So we're bringing the rest to Victoria because sharing is caring.
caramel apple cider cookies
1/2 c shortening
1 c light brown sugar
1/3 c dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c or cider
2 1/4 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
* caramel sauce
1. Cream together shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. On a medium speed, blend in vanilla and cider, then add egg. In a separate bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients.
2. Add the dry mix to the wet ingredients in the mixer on a low speed, one cup at a time. Let batter chill for at least one hour.
3. Spoon out tiny balls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Let cool completely before spooning the caramel in between two cookies, about a teaspoon each.
* To make the caramel sauce, use the recipe from the salted caramel brownies I made back in July, just don't add the salt! Or do, it might be a tasty twist on the traditional.
Next time I might try to make the cookies smaller, almost button sized so that they are an even more petit treat. Also, I wanted to put a tiny apple wedge on top of each cookie which could be added when they're almost done baking, but I didn't have any apples... guess I need to hit up the market this week.