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
Chewy Toffee Apple Cookies
- 2.4 ounces freeze dried apples
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground apple pie spice or cinnamon
- 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 6 Tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons white granulated sugar
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1/3 cup toffee chips
- 2 Tablespoons white granulated sugar
- 1/2 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
Place freeze dried apples into a food processor and grind until powdery. It's fine to have some tiny visible bits of apple. You should get about 1/2 cup of powder. Set aside.
Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, cream of tartar, salt and apple pie spice or cinnamon together in a medium bowl until well combined. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed until well combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add egg and apple powder all together then beat on low until well combined.
Gradually add flour, beating on lowest setting, scraping sides as necessary, until mixture is combined and no streaks of flour remain. Stir in toffee chips until combined.
Press a piece of plastic wrap right onto the surface of the dough to cover it and protect it from drying out. Then, refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until firm enough to roll.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix coating ingredients (sugar and cinnamon) until well blended. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove dough from refrigerator and using about 2 Tablespoons per cookie, roll into balls. Then, roll each ball in cinnamon sugar, coating all surfaces of the cookie.
Place cookies a couple of inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until edges are nicely golden. Rotate cookies half way through baking.
Cool for 10 minutes on cookie sheet. Then transfer to a rack to finish cooling. Once completely cool, store in an airtight container at room temperature.
*I bought my freeze dried apples at Trader Joe's. They're in the nuts/dried fruit section. I've also seen bags of them in the produce section of my neighborhood grocery stores.
*Watch out for the little preservative bags inside the freeze dried apples. They are there to keep the apples crisp. Just make sure they don't end up getting tossed into your food processor along with the apples.
*I used a two Tablespoon scoop to measure my cookie dough. You can roll a smaller ball using about one Tablespoon per cookie. You'll get double the amount of cookies but they will bake faster. I would start checking them at about 6-8 minutes and then add time as necessary until you get that light golden brown edge.
*My cookies did not all fit onto one cookie sheet. Instead of just putting the extra 2 onto another sheet, I divided them equally and placed 7 on each. This will keep the heat consistent on both pans. If you only put a couple of cookies on one sheet, that sheet will get much hotter than the one that is filled. Dividing them equally will give you a more consistent result.
*I use the spoon and sweep method for measuring flour. Fluff the flour, lightly spoon it into the measuring cup, then level with a straight edge. This yields about 4.25 ounces of flour.
*Just an fyi...I know this is the "final" recipe, and they're quite perfect as is...but the next time I make them, I'm going to try adding 2 additional Tablespoons of flour and see what happens. For me, recipes are never quite done!
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