Today I’m featuring a guest post from my favorite fellow Christmas elf, Katie Jane. Katie is a baker and manager at Portland’s legendary vegan bakery Sweetpea Baking Company. She’s also an amazing photographer; all the photos here are hers.
These cookies transcend holidays. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas – whatever you’re celebrating during the colder months, these will fit in nicely.
If you’re intimidated by the caramel making process, I don’t blame you. I’ve been there. But it’s easier than you think if you have a candy thermometer. You can get one at almost any regular grocery store for a very reasonable price. Just calm yourself, take your time, and don’t panic. You will be so proud of yourself when you are finished! This website has been comforting and helpful to me.
To make these cookies soy free, substitute canola oil for the Buttery Sticks in the same amount. When you mix it with the sugar it won’t whip up all fluffy, but the cookies end up more or less the same.
Caramel Apple Cookies
Time: approx. 1 1/2 hours
Tools needed: Candy thermometer, stand mixer or hand mixer
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flax seed meal
1/4 cup apple juice or water
1 medium to large sized apple (Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Fuji, or Jonagold)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cup rolled oats
Make the caramel sauce. In a small, heavy bottomed pan over medium low heat, mix together the sugar and water with a spatula. Stirring almost constantly for 5-10 minutes, let the sugar dissolve. When it looks like the sugar granules are all melted, turn the heat up to medium high. Stop stirring. Let the sugar bubble and cook for another 10 or so minutes, checking consistently with the thermometer. When the sugar reaches 340˚, remove it from the heat and pour in the coconut milk. Stir it until it stops bubbling and steaming, and set aside to cool a bit.
Onto the cookies!
Preheat oven to 375˚. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Wash and dry your apple, and use a cheese grater to grate the apple with the skin still on (that’s where all the good flavor is!). When you get close to the core, stop. Gather up the apple in your hands and give it a gentle squeeze to get rid of a little liquid. You don’t want it to be completely wrung dry though. You should get about a cup of grated apples. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, place the Earth Balance, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat on medium speed, scraping down the sides with a spatula, until creamed together and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, grated apples, flax meal and apple juice or water and mix again for a minute. Add the cinnamon, salt, baking soda and flour, and just barely mix. Add the oats. Mix on low speed until everything is just coming together evenly.
With an ice cream scoop or large spoon, drop dough in about 2 tablespoon increments onto pans 1 1/2 inches apart. They will spread.
Bake 12-15 minutes, until edges look crispy and they are a deep golden brown color. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cool completely and then drizzle caramel sauce evenly and generously over the top.
Now use your leftover coconut milk for a warm winter curry, and your leftover caramel sauce on top of some vanilla ice cream!