These Chewy Toffee Apple Cookies may look like your average cookie, but I assure you, they are not. We’ll get to how amazingly delicious and different they are, but let me first share how they came to be.
First, let me say that this was one bugger of a recipe to develop. I encountered multiple challenges along the way.
One of the reasons it was a bit difficult is because of the secret ingredient: freeze dried apples. You’ve seen me use freeze dried fruit (in ground down powder form) before in these Raspberry Valentine Sugar Cookies and Raspberry White Chocolate Pound Cake Biscotti.
Freeze dried fruit is the most amazing flavor bomb. Once you start experimenting with it, it’s difficult to stop.
I had been using flavorful fruit powder without really thinking about it. I purchased some Lemon Juice Fruit Powder from King Arthur Flour a few years ago and loved the extra boost of lemon flavor it added to all of my lemony recipes. It’s listed here in my King Arthur Flour Favorites posts.
What’s great about freeze dried fruit powder? First, it’s REAL fruit; it’s just freeze dried. The moisture has been removed, so all you get is concentrated real fruit flavor.
This is perfect in recipes where you don’t want extra moisture. Moisture can throw off the balance in a recipe. Fresh fruit is wonderful, but sometimes you simply want the flavor, not the moisture.
My husband, who is not much of a baker, save for Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, has been a driving force in experimenting with these fruit powders.
At one point last year, I had to tell him to stop. I told him he couldn’t bake any more versions of his cookie inventions until someone ate the ones that were piling up in the freezer.
I still have to finalize those recipes and post them one of these days. There are some really fun ones. In the meantime, I happened upon some freeze dried apples.
Then, I happened upon some Sea Salt Caramel Chips on one of our many trips to Hershey, Pennsylvania. Back then, I hadn’t seen any caramel chips in my local grocery stores.
I thought, “Hey! I’ll use apple powder and create Salted Caramel Apple Cookies!” I bought a couple of bags and stashed them in the pantry.
My first batch was very much like a traditional chocolate chip cookie, but with my addition of apples and caramel chips.
They smelled wonderful as they were baking. They looked perfect as they came out of the oven. But taste? Ugh! They were too sweet! The dough was too sweet. The chips were too sweet.
For those of you who like butterscotch chips, you may have loved that batch. I happen to hate butterscotch chips. I love butterscotch, but those chips are just too cloyingly sweet for me.
I loved them as a kid in magic bars, but today? I omit them. I love my classic magic bars with semi sweet chips, period.
Are the salted caramel chips as cloyingly sweet as the butterscotch? No, partially because they are balanced with some salt. And honestly, when I originally sampled a few out of the bag, I thought they would be so much fun to bake with.
And maybe they would be…in some other cookie. In this cookie, they were too sweet. Even my kids thought the cookies were too sweet. Imagine that!
In this cookie, they added insult to injury because the cookie dough itself was too sweet. Here’s the reason why…
Apples are sweet, full of natural sugar. So, all of that apple powder that I added to the cookies was simply a lot of additional sweetness that I didn’t account for in the recipe.
And, they were rolled in cinnamon sugar because I also had snickerdoodles on my brain. So there was a whole lot of sugar going on.
I had to figure out how to effectively reduce the sugar without compromising other qualities of the cookie. As I have mentioned many times before, sugar plays more than just a taste role in baking. Among other things, it affects leavening and moisture and tenderness. (They don’t call baking a science for nothing.)
I had to play around with the ratio of sugar to flour to liquid to fat…ugh! Every cookie came out looking and tasting completely different!
Some were chewy. Some were cakey. Some were dry. Some spread a lot. Some didn’t spread at all and looked like little cakey mountains. Ugh! Now I was the one piling up cookie versions in the freezer.
I was getting close to test exhaustion. I didn’t want to taste anymore. I wasn’t excited anymore. I was tired of going back to the store to buy more freeze dried apples for another test batch.
But there was something about this cookie that tasted so different, I couldn’t let it go. I wanted to figure out the puzzle and decided to give it one more try.
I reworked the ingredient ratios again, skipped the caramel chips (buh bye!) and added some toffee chips instead (hellooo toffee!)
I didn’t add a ton of toffee chips. I didn’t want them to overpower the apple flavor. I added just enough to complement the apples and add a bit to the chew factor.
I rolled the final batch in cinnamon sugar, crossed my fingers and put them into the oven.
Again, they smelled amazing while they were baking. I knew they wouldn’t be too sweet because I had fixed that issue somewhere around test batch 3.
But I still wanted them to be more chewy than cakey. I told my husband this would be the last batch. It was either going to work or it wasn’t.
So, 3rd, 4th, 5th… I don’t know, 6th time’s a charm? My perseverance paid off with the most delicious cookie.
It was full of apple flavor, with a slightly chewy texture. The cookie was almost addictive. My husband said it tasted like an apple crumb pie but in cookie form.
We started to horde the cookies. The recipe doesn’t make a large batch and suddenly, even though we had all of the other test batches in the freezer, this batch was golden.
We gave a lot of the other cookies away, but with this batch, we only gave a few away to our most ardent taste testers.
So, yes, I did get test weary. This recipe for Chewy Toffee Apple Cookies almost got pushed aside until next year. But perseverance won out and I ended up with one really different, incredibly yummy fall treat.
I know they look like your average Joe cookie. Been there. Done that. But they’re not. They’re something different. A horse of a different color, if you will.
And now that the cookies have been gone for a few weeks now…it’s hard to believe, but…
I kinda want to make some more :o