April, a reader and real-life cookie taster and recipe user, asked if I had a recipe for an apple and cinnamon cookie. Well...I didn't, but her question got my wheels turning. The result (drum roll, please) is this: the Apple Jack cookie.
I wasn't sure how to impart apple flavor in these cookies. Too much apple juice, apple sauce, or apple slices would make the dough too wet and would lead to either cakey cookies or really, really flat cookies, neither of which is good in my book. I thought about using dried apples, but the ones I picked up at the grocery store downstairs didn't have much flavor and, oddly, had the texture of mushrooms. Ick.
Then it hit me. I'd use apple juice as a wet ingredient, but I'd reduce it down to concentrate the flavor and the volume, and I'd use lots of diced apples--3 cups' worth, in fact. I'd also use ground-up graham crackers because they add a wonderful flavor that makes every cookie I put them in taste awesome. The next question, though, was what kind of apples to use. My grandmother always used Cortland apples in her pies, which tasted great and made for a wet, almost saucy filling, which I love. But I needed a "drier" apple for these cookies to prevent the dough from getting too wet. My solution: Fuji apples. They're great for eating and baking, and they're Jon's favorite. (I used an alligator-style chopper to dice my apples.)
The cinnamon component was simple: ground cinnamon and cinnamon chips, which taste like the cinnamony crumb topping on coffee cakes. A couple teaspoons of lemon juice highlight the apple flavor, and a roll in turbinado sugar prior to baking gives the cookies a great crunchy exterior.
Here's what April had to say:
“These were soooo good! Thanks!!”
Note: The apples give off a little moisture, so I refrigerate the dough to firm it up before forming the dough balls, and--to dry them out a little--I also bake these a little longer and let them rest a little longer than my other cookies.
Makes 5 dozen cookies. (To see this recipe in process, check out Picturing Apple Jack Cookies.)
2 sticks butter
2 cups dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup apple juice (reduced over heat from 1 cup)
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon juice
4 cups oatmeal
3 cups small diced apples
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup finely ground graham crackers
3/4 cup cinnamon chips
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
- In a small saucepan, simmer 1 cup of apple juice over medium heat. Reduce the 1 cup of apple juice down to 1/4 cup. Set aside to cool for Step 3.
- In your Kitchen Aid or a large mixing bowl, cream together the creamables.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients and then add to the creamables. Mix together until smooth.
- In another large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients. Using a spatula, fold together until evenly distributed. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamables and wet ingredients. Mix until evenly combined.
- Preheat oven to 350º.
- Refrigerate cookie dough for 30 minutes.
- Remove dough from the refrigerator and shape dough into balls—about 2 tablespoons each.
- Roll each dough ball in turbinado sugar
- Place the sugar-coated dough balls about 2 inches apart on Silpat- or parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.
- Bake at 350º for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Then place cookies on wire racks to cool.