Oatmeal Apple Pie Cookies

FullSizeRenderLove apple pie or apple cobbler, but would like those flavors in a bite-sized portion? These apple and oatmeal cookies give you a hint of all-American apple pie without the hassle of making pie crust, something I personally have never mastered. (Whoever coined the phrase, “easy as pie” was nuts, in my opinion.) Since the cinnamon, oats, and apples have a fallish feel, put these on your list to try when the air gets crisp, and the leaves start to turn colors.

Oat-laden baked goods are a favorite with my sons, so the S’more Cookies previously posted got rave reviews the first time I made them. But my son Justin was kinda “meh” about the combo, only because he’s not super into s’mores. (I know, I know…what on earth is wrong with him?) He thought that the cookie base would be better with apples and a cream cheese frosting, and when he texted me a reminder of his suggestion one weekend, I said I’d give it a whirl. 

I was a little unsure about the order of the filling and frosting—should I fill them first and then frost after they were cool? Or drop in some frosting and then top with the apple pie filling? So I tried it both ways, then taste-tested on my family (plus my son Mitch’s friend Karl, one of my most ardent food admirers). They had no preference, gobbling both with equal enthusiasm. But they did vote for the ones with pie filling on top as they had a stronger apple flavor. They also said they really, really liked these because they aren’t an achingly sweet cookie—more in the vein of an apple granola bar. How do you like that! Tested by a discerning taste-testing panel before being posted. You’re welcome.

Makes 24-32 cookies

For cookie dough:
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely crushed graham crackers (about 15 squares)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla

For frosting and filling:
1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar (aka: powdered sugar, Tom…)
Drizzle of milk, 1-2 tablespoons
1 (21-ounce) can of apple pie filling

Preheat oven to 375°. In medium bowl, combine oats, flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda and powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In large mixing bowl, beat butter until smooth. Add brown sugar and beat again. Add granulated sugar and beat until butter and sugars are light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat until eggs are incorporated. Add milk and vanilla and beat again. Slowly mix in the oats and flour mixture with the mixer until all ingredients are combined.

Cover bowl of dough with plastic wrap, and chill for 1-4 hours. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.* Drop spoonfuls of dough onto prepared baking sheets, 12 per sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 8-9 minutes.

While cookies are baking, make frosting. Put cream cheese in small mixer bowl, and beat on high until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners sugar, and beat on low until combined. With mixer still on low, drizzle in milk and vanilla, and once the liquids are incorporated, return to high and beat until frosting is creamy. Set aside.

Open can of apple pie filling, and use long thin knife to dice apples while still in the can. Remove cookies from oven and make a slight impression in hot cookies with the back of a spoon. Put a generous tablespoon of frosting in the indent, and then add a dollop (another tablespoon) of apple pie filling on top of each cookie.

Return cookies to oven for 3-4 minutes, or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely before storing.

*NOTE: I ended up making these without parchment paper ’cause I forgot to use it, and they were fine! Needed a good, stiff spatula to get them off the pan, but the parchment paper wasn’t as necessary as I thought.

S’More Cookies

FullSizeRenderIf you love s’mores, then you’re in for a super sweet treat! These cookies have all the fun flavors of a campfire-toasted marshmallow sandwiched between graham crackers and chocolate, but you don’t have to burn a bunch of logs to make them. I’m posting these early in the season, before all the BBQ gatherings and 4th of July festivities begin, but make a mental note to bring these to your next big outdoor bash. I found this recipe on Midwest Living’s website, and couldn’t resist trying it, given that I’m a bit of a s’mores fanatic. This recipe feeds a crowd—it makes a whopping 3 dozen cookies, and you can’t stack them because of all the delicious gooey-ness on top. So it’s best to make ’em and bring ’em to be consumed right away! And don’t worry, they will be. (Unless you’re feeding your gluten-free friends, in which case, they won’t be touched. Gotta know your audience!)

Makes 32-38 cookies

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely crushed graham crackers (about 15 squares)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow creme
32-38 Hershey’s milk chocolate kisses, unwrapped

Preheat oven to 375°. In medium bowl, combine oats, flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda and powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In large mixing bowl, beat butter until smooth. Add brown sugar and beat again. Add granulated sugar and beat until butter and sugars are light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat until eggs are incorporated. Add milk and vanilla and beat again. Slowly mix in the oats and flour mixture with the mixer until all ingredients are combined.

Cover bowl of dough with plastic wrap, and chill for 1-4 hours. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto prepared baking sheets, 12 per sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 8-9 minutes.

IMG_1588While cookies are baking, open large Ziplock bag and spoon in all of the marshmallow creme, concentrating it in one corner of the bag. Snip a small piece off corner of the bag, to make a pastry bag for piping creme into centers of cookies. Remove cookies from oven and make a slight impression in hot cookies with the back of a spoon. Pipe a dollop (about 1 teaspoon) of marshmallow creme into indent in each cookie, and top with a Hershey’s kiss, point size down.

Return cookies to oven for 3-4 minutes, or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely before storing.

NOTE: I have a large baking sheet that has a lid, and that’s the perfect container for storing and transporting these cookies.

Oatmeal Crisps

Oatmeal cookies are the Rodney Dangerfield of baked goods. They get no respect. My son Brandon thinks you’ve got one foot in the nursing home door if you’re snacking on these. But there’s something so comforting about a hefty oatmeal cookie, chocked full of raisins. It’s kinda like a hug from your Mom. Speaking of Moms, I got this recipe from mine, who found it in a Better Homes and Gardens “new” cookbook printed in 1963. (Apparently, I liked these enough to warrant my name being recorded beside the recipe, but I guess I dissed the cup of chopped walnuts. So she used raisins instead. Thanks, Mom!)

Chewy when first baked, these are the perfect after-school snack with a tall glass of cold milk. Once cooled, they crisp up a little, and are great for dunking in a mug of hot coffee or tea. And these would be especially welcome after all that rich Thanksgiving fare, so keep this one handy for after turkey day.

IMG_1219

Makes 2 to 2½ dozen

Rating: easy

1 cup shortening
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. In large mixing bowl, cream shortening. Add brown sugar and cream again. Add granulated sugar and continue to cream. Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Add vanilla. In separate medium bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda, and stir. Gradually add to creamed shortening and sugar mixture, stirring down sides occasionally. Add oatmeal 1 cup at a time with mixer set on low. Remove from mixer stand and stir in raisins by hand.

Drop large tablespoons of dough onto baking sheet, 12 per sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tops of cookies are lightly golden. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Store in airtight container.

NOTE: I like my cookies soft and chewy, and these start out that way if you bake them for 10-12 minutes. If you like cookies crisp (Sherie Lindvall, I’m talking to you…), bake them 15 minutes or more.

Flourless Fudge Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_1131This treat has a trick—no gluten, but when the GF crowd needs a cookie, this rich chocolatey wonder fills that craving for baked goods. With only 6 ingredients and none of them being flour, it’s hard to believe the thin batter will actually bake up into anything resembling a cookie, but it does. Word of warning: lack of flour does not equate healthier. This recipe is mostly sugar, with a few eggs for binding things together. So they toggle somewhere between a cookie and a meringue. I tried these after finding the recipe online, and it had been posted and reposted by a few bloggers—chocolateandcarrots.com had gotten it from keepitsweetdesserts.com, who had gotten it from recipegirl.com. It appears Lori Lange of recipegirl.com deserves the credit for creating the original recipe, so I’ll stop there. She used bittersweet chocolate chips in her recipe, which I’ve never seen in the stores (only bittersweet sold in squares for baking), so I used Nestle semi-sweet morsels, a kitchen staple. At least it’s a staple in my kitchen—how about yours? 

(Also pictured here are Ginger Crinkles, a previously-posted fabulous fall or holiday cookie, with sugar and spice, and everything nice. Not gluten-free.)

Makes 16 cookies

Rating: easy

3 cups confectioners sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, or Hershey’s cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 large egg whites, at room temperature (or use 2 egg whites and 1 whole egg)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (a necessity, not an option, for this recipe.)

In a large bowl, whisk together confectioners sugar with cocoa powder and salt. Whisk in two egg whites and vanilla, and beat just until the batter is moistened. You want a thick and fudge-like batter consistency. If it seems too thick, add another egg white, then a 4th one if it still seems too thick. (Or start with the two egg whites, and add in one whole egg, yolk and all.) Gently stir in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter onto the prepared baking sheets, 12 per sheet. Bake about 14 minutes, until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked. Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto wire racks. Let cool completely, then peel cookies off parchment and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. (But they won’t last that long.)

Carrot Cake Cookies

FullSizeRenderI love carrot cake, but it seems like a special-occasion dessert, not a make-any-old-day deal. So when I ran across this recipe for carrot cake cookies that promised the same moist deliciousness without the cake fuss, I thought I’d give them a spin in the old KitchenAid. The recipe from the December 2014 issue of Real Simple said it made only 16 cookies, which is a snack for two at our house, so I doubled it. But then I ended up with 32 frosted cookies, which can’t be stacked in a container. So I brought them to my friend (and fellow blogger) Kathy’s house when she invited us for dinner, asking them to consume a few so I didn’t have to get creative with storage. No hardship on their part! We were barely home before she was texting to ask for the recipe, saying her husband was craving more of the tasty muffin-like morsels. Since you may have similar trouble with storage, the recipe here is for a single batch. Oh, and I added cloves to the spices, and used more confectioners sugar in the frosting than there was in the Real Simple version. They had also suggested these be made as sandwich cookies—two cookies with frosting between thembut my taste-testers decided that wasn’t nearly enough frosting-to-cookie ratio. And you gotta give the people what they want! And they want these perfect autumn spice cookies.

Makes 16 cookies

Ease rating: medium

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1-2 large eggs (1 makes them more cookie-like in texture, 2 makes them more cake-like. If doubling recipe, 3 eggs is perfect amount.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups coarsely grated carrots (2-3 medium)
1 cup chopped pecans
½ cup raisins

Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons milk—whatever is needed to get frosting to spreading consistency

Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves in a mixing bowl. Set aside. In mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high. Add sugar and cream again until light and fluffy. Beat in egg (or eggs—one at a time if using two), then vanilla. Scrape down bowl occasionally. Reduce speed to low, and slowly add in flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Fold in the carrots, pecans, and raisins. Cover and chill for 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Drop 1-2 tablespoons of dough onto baking sheet, 12 per sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown around edges. Let cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

For frosting: Whip cream cheese in mixing bowl. Slowly add confectioners sugar until it’s all incorporated. Add vanilla, and milk, if necessary, to get frosting to spreading consistency. (You do not want this too runny, as this is not intended to be icing.) Frost cooled cookies. Store frosted cookies in airtight container. As this frosting recipe will frost a double batch of cookies, store any remaining frosting in frig for next time you make these cookies.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cherry Cookies

IMG_0972Once when trying to describe his favorite cookies, my youngest son dubbed these tasty morsels “The Good Cookies”—so now that’s the official title of this recipe at our house. Dried cherries are great because they add a tartness that’s a nice compliment to the sweet chocolate. But they are a tad expensive, so I often substitute craisins for the dried cherries. No one complains. The addition of a cup and a half of oatmeal adds some substance, while not turning them into straight-up oatmeal cookies. Another tip? If you toast—and cool (so they don’t melt the butter)—the pecans before stirring in, it takes these up another notch.

What got me searching for this recipe was a cookie Taste of Scandinavia bakery used to make called the Rocky Road. It was chock full of nuts and dried fruits and chocolate chunks. My son Mitch and I used to grab of couple from the bakery in St. Anthony while waiting for his brother Justin to be done with painting classes. When the bakery at that location changed hands and quit making our faves, we went through withdrawal. I found a white chocolate, macadamia nut, and cherry cookie recipe on allrecipes.com that sounded close to what we craved, so I subbed in semi-sweet chocolate and pecans, and a star was born. (That recipe is no longer posted, or I would credit the author!)

Makes 2 ½ dozen cookies

1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup rolled oats
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup dried cherries or craisins (dried cranberries)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In large mixer bowl, cream butter with beater attachment on electric mixer. Slowly add dark brown sugar, then white sugar, and cream ingredients until fluffy. Add eggs and cream ingredients. Add vanilla and cream ingredients again.

In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a spoon. Slowly add this flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar mixture until all ingredients are combined. Slowly add rolled oats and stir on low to combine. Remove bowl from mixer, and stir in chocolate chips, nuts, and dried cherries or craisins with a wooden spoon.

Drop by large spoonfuls on to baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cookies cool for 10 minutes before removing from baking sheet. Store cookies in an airtight container.

Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

IMG_0968Pretty much everyone has a recipe similar to this chewy peanut butter cookie, just like everyone has a favorite recipe for chocolate chip cookies. But I’ve had numerous people tell me mine are especially grand. I once brought these to work, and after her first bite a fellow employee said, “I bet lots of men wanted to marry YOU…” For the record, I’ve only had one marriage proposal, but I’ve had tons of requests for my cookie recipes. I think it’s the addition of the Reese’s peanut butter chips that takes these cookies from good to great.

But I have to admit I wasn’t always such a rock star with this recipe. At the ripe old age of 11 or 12, I wanted to treat my family to a batch of PB Cookies. Once I got to the dough-rolling stage, I felt like something was amiss. “Mom, this dough feels kinda like Play-Doh. Is it supposed to feel like that?” It also looked a little different than I remembered—more sparkly than usual. One pan came out of the oven, and we broke off chunks to test, and promptly spit them out. They tasted like Play-Doh, too!!! What went wrong? My mother and I went back through the ingredients one at a time, and she asked me if I’d put in this and that, and then quizzed me on the amounts. When she got to salt, she said, “Half a teaspoon salt?” and I froze. I’d put in half a CUP of salt. We laughed as we pitched that whole inedible batch in the garbage, and I remember that crazy mistake every single time I make these cookies. As I carefully measure the salt.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies

1 cup shortening (not butter or butter-flavored shortening)
1 cup Skippy’s super chunky peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 of 10 oz. bag of Reese’s peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit. In large mixer bowl, cream shortening and peanut butter. Add white sugar, then dark brown sugar, and cream ingredients until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, and cream. Add vanilla and cream ingredients again.

In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and powder, and salt. Gradually add to creamed mixture and stir until combined. Dough should not be overly-sticky to the touch (too little flour), but also should not be crumbly. (If dough is crumbly, that means you have too much flour in your dough and cookies will be tough, not soft and chewy.) Stir Reese’s peanut butter chips into dough with wooden spoon until chips are incorporated.

Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and place on baking sheet, 12 to sheet. Using tines of fork, make cross-cross pattern on top of cookies, pressing to flatten slightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until edges of cookies are lightly golden brown. Let cool at least 5 minutes before removing to wire rack or container. Store in air-tight container.

Ginger Crinkles

FullSizeRenderWe’ve all bitten into gingersnap cookies that are so hard you practically break a tooth on them. This soft, chewy cookie has all the sweetness and spice of a gingersnap, but none of the dental danger. And these Ginger Crinkles are SO good, my 30-something nephew Jacob actually asked for a take-home bag when he and his wife had been over for dinner once. He said he wasn’t really a cookie person, but thought he’d try one to be polite, and then couldn’t stop.

It helps to serve them nice and warm, fresh from the oven, although they keep well in an airtight container. They’re a great fall and winter cookie, since they use the same spices as gingerbread, but your family—and guests!—will be happy to eat them year round. (I like to make these when Chocolate Chip and/or Monster Cookies are boring me. A nice change of pace.)

I found the recipe on the McCormick spice site several years ago, but it is no longer posted. They had used corn syrup in their recipe (which I don’t keep on hand), so I tried molasses instead. Worked great! And probably added more flavor, too. 

Makes 2 ½ dozen cookies

1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 ¼ cups white sugar
¼ cup dark molasses
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup white sugar (for rolling cookies)

Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit. In large mixer bowl, cream butter. Slowly add white sugar, then molasses, and beat with electric mixer until fluffy. Add egg, and cream all ingredients. Add vanilla, and cream ingredients again.

In separate medium-size mixing bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, cloves, and salt. Stir with spoon. Slowly add flour mixture to creamed butter and sugar mixture. Remove bowl from mixer.

Put ¼ cup white sugar in small bowl. Take spoonfuls of cookie dough and roll into balls. Roll each ball in sugar before placing on baking sheet. Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove pan from oven and cool for 5 minutes before removing cookies from baking sheet. Store in airtight container.

Monster Cookies

Monster CookiesThis makes a monstrous batch (thus the name), but it’s usually gone pretty darn quick, as they’re the favorite cookie for 3 out of 4 men in my family. Generous amounts of old-fashioned oatmeal and peanut butter in these chunky treats give granola bars some stiff competition, and make these hearty enough for breakfast, if you like cookies for breakfast. And who doesn’t?

Surprisingly, the appeal of monster cookies spans the globe. Our house guests from Norway, France, and Japan have all requested this recipe, which I’ve packed in their bags along with a set of U.S. measuring cups and spoons. (Easier than figuring out how to convert the measurements into metric…)

Monster recipeI’ve actually halved this recipe from the original to make it more manageable. I got it from a woman who had seven kids, so she needed the jumbo batch. As you can see from my tattered and stained recipe, this really has become a family fave.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen

1 ¼ cups Skippy super chunky peanut butter
¾ cup shortening
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ cup M&M’s
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. In large mixer bowl, cream peanut butter and shortening. Add dark brown sugar, then white sugar, and cream ingredients until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, and cream. Add vanilla and cream ingredients again.

In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, and baking soda with a spoon. With mixer on low, slowly add oatmeal mixture to peanut butter mixture until all ingredients are combined. Remove bowl from mixer, and stir in M&M’s and chocolate chips with a wooden spoon until combined.

Drop by large spoonfuls on to baking sheet. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until edges are light brown. Let cookies cool for 10 minutes before removing from baking sheet. Store cookies in an airtight container. Deliver to starving college student.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_0727Everyone has this recipe—it’s right on the package of Nestle Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips —but I’m often told my chocolate chip cookies are something special. This winter we hosted students from France and Japan (not at the same time), and it only took one warm, gooey, bite to make them disciples of the chocolate chip cookie cult. Antoine C., Antoine G., and Kana loved these so much that they requested the recipes, meaning this silly little cookie recipe is my first to go global.

My secret to fabulous cookies is to turn on the mixer and cream, cream, and cream again. I often turn on my KitchenAid mixer to cream the shortening and sugars, then let it go while I do other stuff. It doesn’t seem that you can over-do the creaming to make light, fluffy cookies. The other trick is to not over-bake. Remove from oven when lightly brown on edges. And of course you have to put love in your cookies. Don’t forget the love. That’s the secret ingredient.

Makes 2 dozen cookies (I make them big)

1 cup shortening (do NOT substitute butter in this recipe)
¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
¾ cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups (or 12 ounce bag) of Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips or Nestle Chocolate Chunks

Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit. In large mixer bowl, cream shortening with beater attachment on electric mixer. Slowly add dark brown sugar, then white sugar, and cream ingredients until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and cream ingredients. Add vanilla, and cream ingredients again.

In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt with a spoon. Slowly add this flour mixture to the creamed shortening and sugar mixture until all ingredients are combined. Remove bowl from mixer, and stir in chocolate chips.

Drop cookie dough onto baking sheet with small spoon. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes before removing cookies from baking sheet. Continue cooling on racks. Store cookies in an airtight container.