I’ve had this terrible cold that morphed into a cough that morphed into sinus infection that’s morphed back into a cough. Or, at least, that’s what I think is happening to me. AJ has told me I should go to the doctor since it’s been so long since I’ve been hacking up nasty stuff, and I probably should listen to him. In the meanwhile, I’ve been thinking of different posts and different things I want to bake, but I can barely make it out of bed, and every time I do rally to get out of the house…I find myself relapsing ever so slightly. Of course today’s post was suppose to coincide with the Lunar New Year. I had every intention of creating a stunning new contemporary twist on a classic Chinese dessert like I did last year…and I didn’t. I mean I tried, trust me, I tried. I made one version, which turned out…not bad, but not really blog-worthy, and then I got side tracked even though I meant to revise the recipe and make them again, and then AJ looked really cute when he laid down in bed for a nap, and I thought I would maybe lie down next to him for ten minutes and then an hour and half went by and apparently I needed more rest than I thought. So no Lunar New Year post today; maybe later this week. But for now, I present to you an apple cookie recipe that rocks, my Caramel Apple Snickerdoodles Cookies that I whipped up last month, back when I was on a cookie baking binge for the holidays. I hope you aren’t cookie’d out, because I kind of love them. (Jump directly to the recipe.)
Last month AJ and I had gone back to Indiana for the holidays, which is AJ’s hometown. Usually we split the time between Indiana and St. Louis (my hometown) but circumstances had us just going to Indiana for Christmas. This meant we actually had more time to spend in Indiana, running around to see the sights and visit with friends. It also meant we were able to get to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which has changed a lot since I’ve last been there. Though they still have their iconic LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana, they also have renovated the Lilly house, restoring it to it’s old glory.
The best part of my visit there, however, was wandering around the 100 Acres, a gifted land to the museum that they have created (and are still creating) into an art and nature park. I, of course, want to call it the 100 Acre Woods (after Winnie the Pooh’s 100 Acre Woods) but this one seems both more real, and more magical than Christopher Robin’s woods. AJ and I spent a little bit of time exploring the various sculptures and environments, wandering to and fro.
Time was catching up on us, and we realized that we needed to head out to dinner. So we left the museum and head over to AJ’s brother’s house where we they were planning on making dinner for us. I decided I wanted to make some cookies for them as dessert. I had been experimenting with adding burnt sugar caramel to cookies, and figured why not experiment me some more? Turns out they loved the cookies, which was both a good thing and bad thing as AJ’s sister-in-law was trying to limit her sugar, flour and dairy intake for the new year. Had she told me that before hand, I would have made something more suitable for dessert, but oh well. I don’t think she was too unhappy as took a third cookie. All in all, it was a great day in the Midwest, made even better with these cookies.
Caramel Apple Snickerdoodle Cookies
By Irvin Lin
These cookies take the usual all American snickerdoodles and bring them up a notch by adding both caramel and apple to the mix. The addition is pretty simple, though it means you have to buy dehydrated apple chips and make burnt sugar caramel. Making caramel is pretty easy, just make sure to watch the pan carefully, and turn the heat off, before the caramel turns too dark, as it continues to cook with the residual heat. Don’t worry if the caramel seems too hard when you break it up, it melts into the cookies when you bake them.
2 cups (400 g) white sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups (115 g or 1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (115 g) trans-free shortening
2 large eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 3/4 cups (385 g) all purpose unbleached flour
1 cup (60 g) crushed baked apple chips (into 1/4” pieces)
For rolling cookie
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoon white sugar
1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silpat or a piece of aluminum foil lightly sprayed with cooking oil. Place the baking sheet on a silicon heat pads, or a damp towel (so it doesn’t move). Place 100 g (1/2 cup) of white sugar in a medium saucepan or skillet (preferably one that is silver on the bottom and not black nonstick coated). Turn the heat up to medium high and cook the sugar, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula. Once the sugar has reached a deep copper color (like a new shiny penny) turn the heat off. Pour the caramel onto the lined baking sheet, spreading the picking up the baking sheet and moving it about to spread the caramel as thin as possible (don’t drip on yourself though – the stuff is napalm hot). Let cool while you prep the cookie dough.
2. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a cookie sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and place in a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the shortening, and remaining 300 g (1 1/2 cups) sugar in the bowl and cream until the mixture is light and fluffy, about two or three minutes on medium speed.
3. Add one egg and beat to incorporate. Scrape down the sides with a spatula and repeat with the second egg. Add the vanilla and repeat as well. Add the cream of tartar, baking soda and salt into the bowl with the butter and beat on medium to incorporate, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and turn the mixer on slow speed until the flour starts to incorporate, increasing the speed to medium. Beat until completely incorporated (about 1 minute).
4. Take the cooled caramel and place in a heavy duty ziplock bag (crack it carefully if you need it to fit, but be careful as the sharp edges of the broken caramel can cut). Break the caramel in the ziplock bag with a rolling pin or mallet into roughly 1/4 inch pieces. Add the pieces to the cookie dough, along with the crushed baked apple chips. Mix on slow to medium to incorporate into dough (about 30 seconds).
5. Mix the cinnamon and white sugar together in a small bowl. Roll a 1 inch ball of cookie dough in the cinnamon sugar bowl and place on the lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, placing each cookie 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the top of the cookies start to crack a little. Try not to overbake or underbake. Cool on wire rack and enjoy with family and friends.
Makes about 48 cookies.