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Triple Threat Apple Cider Cookies

The taste of these apple cider cookies calls to mind all the good things about autumn (which includes apple orchard harvests!).  These hearty cookies include oatmeal and raisins in the dough, as well as the “triple threat” of apple cider mix, bottled apple cider, and Granny Smith apples.  An optional drizzling of butterscotch sauce provides the perfect finishing touch for a cookie that tastes like the fall season.

Apple Cider Cookies on a white plate with a white bowl of butterscotch sauce and a Granny Smith apple in the background.

My Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I do love Christmas and in the past I’ve gone all out for it (every room in my home got decorated).  But that’s an event taking place in the winter that I look forward to.  Once it’s over, it’s just regular life…the weather’s just cold.

Autumn, on the other hand, is a whole different story.  

What I look forward to all year long about the start of fall is the way I live during that season.  I love dressing in layers to account for the temperature range within a typicall fall day, I love taking walks and watching the green foliage change so that the plants and trees take on a whole new persona, I love the bird migrations that pass through the area, I love pulling the afghans out of storage, and I love the occasional fire we’ll build outside to socialize around.

But what I look forward to THE MOST about fall is the food I make.  Autumnal food uses different spices and ingredients than at other times of the year.  Specific produce has ripened and been harvested (hello, farmer’s markets!).  Food feels more wholesome, more celebratory.  I like cooking at any time of year, but cooking brings me the most joy in the fall.

I’m really excited whenever I make a recipe that I classify as “Fall Food” and this apple cider cookie is now one of them.

New To This Apple Cider Baking Thing

I’ll confess that I’d never heard of apple cider cookies (or apple cider doughnuts) until now.  I’m pretty limited in my cookie knowledge.  They’re one of those things I don’t find myself thinking about the way I do other kinds of baked goods.  So the apple cider baking thing is a party to which I’ve arrived late.

But Better Late Than Never, Right?

But the idea of apple cider cookies intrigued me and so I educated myself about what they typically are.  I was surprised that it’s powdered apple cider mix and not bottled apple cider that goes into the dough.  I sensed an opportunity for experimentation.

I also noticed that they tend to be, more or less, sugar cookies with diced apple thrown in for good measure, sometimes with an icing and other times without.  I like sugar cookies, but they don’t get membership in my Fall Food Club.  So I thought about how I could make them feel more like a fall treat.

The Evolution of This Apple Cider Cookie

After brainstorming on what makes a “fall cookie” in my book, I realized you can’t go wrong with oats.  My go-to fall cookie is, and always has been, an oatmeal raisin cookie.  (the Quaker Oats classic version I made as a child is what I used in my Caramel Apple Crumble).

But I didn’t want a full-fledged oatmeal raisin cookie that I just threw a packet of apple cider mix into.  I wanted something between an oatmeal cookie and a sugar cookie.  I decided to meet in the middle and make a “fusion” cookie that is 50% sugar cookie and 50% oatmeal raisin (or thereabouts).  

Now that I had my cookie base established, adding apple ingredients was the final step to make it feel like harvest time in an apple orchard.  My goal was to create a triple threat of apple flavor for this apple cider cookie.

All the ingredients for Apple Cider Cookies.

What Fresh Apple To Use

I selected a Granny Smith for this apple cider cookie because I’m going to chop the apple into really small pieces — smaller than I’ve chopped apples for any recipe so far.  Since the apple pieces will be tiny, each bit needs all the apple flavor it can muster.

Powerful flavor in small amounts is what a Granny Smith does like no other apple I’ve come across so far.  Not saying there isn’t one out there — just that I haven’t found it yet.  So if there’s an apple more tart than a Granny Smith, I must insist that you share the information with me!  I’ll certainly try it if I can find it.

It even crossed my mind to use crabapples for some of my recipes I wanted maximum tartness in.  But I haven’t, because then they would be “crabapple recipes” and I’ve been asked to make “apple recipes.”  (But if a request for crabapple recipes comes along, I’m going to be all over it.)

The Powdered Apple Cider Mix

Alpine Apple Cider Mix is pretty much everywhere and sometimes it’s the only choice the grocery store offers (like the one I often shop at).  I’m sure any brand of apple cider mix will do.  If, for some reason, you find apple cider mix in a canister, a packet of apple cider mix holds about 4 ½ teaspoons of mix.

Bottled Apple Cider

I told you I saw an opportunity for experimentation with this!  I chose to substitute the water in my cookie recipe for bottled apple cider, which makes up the final component of the apple triple threat in this apple cider cookie.

Bottle of apple cider with packets of apple cider mix and two Granny Smith apples in front of it.

Making Apple Cider Cookies That Taste Like Autumn

In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugars and shortening.

Closeup of brown sugar, granulated sugar, and shortening in a white mixing bowl.

Then add the egg and vanilla. 

I only used a teaspoon which is unbelievably conservative for me when it comes to vanilla.  I confess a lot of the time I won’t even use a measuring spoon — or if I do, it’s the “Oh darn, I way overpoured and now there’s probably 3 times what the recipe calls for!  I guess I’ll have to find a way to live with that” sort of thing.

But this isn’t a sugar cookie — it’s an apple cider cookie, so vanilla will have to stay in the background this time.

Closeup of a raw egg and vanilla added to creamed sugars and shortening.

Next, it’s time for the powdered apple cider mix packets and the bottled apple cider.  Make sure you shake up the cider to mix in any spices and apple sediment that may have settled at the bottom of the bottle.

Stir carefully!  The dough is really wet and will splatter if stirred too vigorously (or so I’ve been told).

Bottled apple cider and apple cider mix added to the apple cider cookie dough.

In a small mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

Closeup of sifter with dry ingredients in it, sitting in a small mixing bowl.

I love the way sifting forms a little mountain of dry ingredients in the bowl.

Closeup of sifted dry ingredients.

Now it’s time to add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.

Small white bowl of dry ingredients next to a larger bowel of wet ingredients.

Add the dry ingredients in small batches, mixing well before adding the next batch.  This cuts down on the dry stuff going everywhere when you’re stirring (or when I’m stirring — I tend to make a mess).

Dry ingredients sprinkled onto cookie dough.

Stir in the oats.  Again, this is ⅓ the amount of the oatmeal raisin cookie I like to make.  I went conservative with this ingredient because it’s not an apple cider oatmeal cookie.  The oats are just to give this a heartier texture.  The review I’m going for is “An apple cider cookie with a suggestion of oats at harvest time.”

Okay, maybe not.  The point is, I didn’t go crazy with the oats.  I was also really tired when I made this recipe so I forgot to stop and take a photo of this step, but I’m sure you already know what oats dumped into cookie dough looks like.

Now for the raisins.  Raisins are not the star of this cookie, either.  They are in the Supporting Actor category, so I’m not using very much of them.

Closeup of small white bowl of raisins with a chef's knife partially in view.

Because I’m only using a small amount of raisins, I felt like they weren’t the right size in their natural form.  If you are familiar with the layered apple pie I made, you know where I’m heading with this.  But for those who don’t know, I’m The Girl Who Chops Raisins To Make Them Smaller.

Closeup of pile of chopped raisins next to whole raisins.

It didn’t take very long and I decided I was being very zen by chopping raisins in half.  Chop enough to get ⅓ of a cup and then stir those into the dough.

Closeup of red 1/3 cup of chopped raisins.

The Granny Smith apple is up now.  Core, peel, and quarter an average-sized apple.

I always have to make the disclaimer that I don’t have an apple corer and so you’ll always see my apples, peeled, quartered, and the cores cut off with a chef’s knife.

Whole Granny Smith apple next to a Granny Smith apple that has been peeled, quartered, and the cores cut off with a peeler and chef's knife partially in view.

Then I cut a quarter into fan slices.

Closeup of an apple quarter cut into fan slices.

And then I turn the fan slices 90 degrees and chop them into fine slices.  The pieces of apple are about the same size as hashbrowns.

An apple quarter next to an apple quarter that has been finely chopped.

Add each quarter to the cookie dough and stir in well.

Chopped apple on cookie dough.

Once the apple has been added, the dough is ready to go onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.

A white bowl of apple cider cookie dough next to a baking sheet with a can of cooking spray and a red spatula partially in view

These cookies WILL spread.  So be careful not to make the cookies too big or place them close to each other or they’ll run together.

Here’s another disclaimer.  I don’t have a full-sized oven to bake in, therefore my bakeware is smaller than normal.  The cookie sheet I use is 13” x 9” — it’s a quarter sheet pan.  The baking sheets used in most home ovens are half-sheets because full-sheets are the ones that caterers and commercial kitchens use.  (If you want to know all about baking sheet sizes, here’s the awesome article Google was nice enough to find for me.)

So while I can get a dozen cookies onto my baking sheet, they’re pretty small.  That’s why I got a yield of 94 small cookies from this recipe.  They come out as “1 or 2 bite” cookies — or zero bites for men like my husband.  Because you’ll likely be using bigger size baking sheets than me, you can either get more than a dozen small cookies per sheet or you can make your apple cider cookies a little larger than mine.

Teaspoonfuls of apple cider cookie dough on a baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Since all ovens have their own temperature quirks, keep an eye on your cookies while they’re baking to make sure they don’t overbrown.

Remember what I said about not putting the cookie dough too close together?  I point to Exhibit A at the far lower left.

First batch of baked apple cider cookies -- two of them ran together.

At least the second batch, and most of the others, turned out better.

The second batch of baked apple cider cookies -- none of the cookies ran together.

These smelled quite apple-y as they were baking.  You could definitely detect the cider and the Granny Smith apples.

Once they come out of the oven, immediately remove them from the baking sheet onto a rack to cool.  (I don’t have a cooling rack so I use a stoneware plate instead).

Plain apple cider cookies on a white plate with a larger plate of cookies, a bowl of butterscotch sauce, and a Granny Smith apple in the background.

The Optional Part

The butterscotch sauce is next and it’s actually optional for these apple cider cookies.  It’s not like an icing or a glaze that you can put on all your cookies and then store them that way.  It’s a little too messy and the cookies would stick together badly.  They also might get soggy after a while from soaking up the sauce.

So here’s how I decided to handle things.  I made a thickened butterscotch sauce that I’m keeping in the fridge.  When I want to serve the cookies, I put them on a large plate and I heat the butterscotch in the microwave to soften it enough for drizzling.  Then I drizzle the cookies and put the plate out for people to help themselves.

This plan seems to be working for everyone.  The drizzle lines are holding up well so that the cookies stay “pretty” for a while.  For those who don’t care for butterscotch, I also put out a plate of “naked” apple cider cookies.  They’re good both ways.

I don’t know what happened to my brain, but I neglected to take any photos while I was making the butterscotch sauce.  But it’s ridiculously easy so photos wouldn’t have really added anything.

Pour half a cup of butterscotch sundae syrup into a small microwavable bowl.  Mix together 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of cold water (I just mixed them in the measuring cup I used for the butterscotch syrup).  Stir this into the butterscotch and then microwave for a couple minutes, stirring every 20 seconds, until the syrup thickens into more of a sauce.

Once it cools down a bit, it’s the perfect consistency for drizzling.

My Personal Review of My Apple Cider Cookies

This was the first time I ever made these and the first time I’ve ever eaten apple cider cookies at all.  I have nothing to compare them to.  All I can do is tell you what my (and my husband’s) impressions were.

The apple flavor is subtle and yet there is definitely a cider undertone in the cookie.  They’re not like any cookie I’ve had before.  I was afraid the apple pieces might be too firm, but it seems like  being as finely chopped as they were allowed them to soften up enough while baking so that they don’t stand out texture-wise.

I’m glad I was conservative with the oats and the raisins.  In fact, even with chopping up the raisins, not every cookie got a raisin piece in it (others got several).  That might please you, or not.  If you’re okay with sporadic raisins then ⅓ of a cup is probably the right amount.  If you want more “raisin presence” then ½ a cup of chopped raisins is what I would recommend.

I don’t have a preference when it comes to the butterscotch sauce versus naked cookie status — as I said, the cookies are good both ways.  My husband didn’t express a preference either.  He ate both versions with equal enthusiasm, popping the entire cookie in his mouth each time — I was right about them being “no-biters” for him.

Apple cider cookies on a white plate with butterscotch drizzle on them -- a white bowl of butterscotch sauce and a Granny Smith apple are in the background.

Storing and Freezing Apple Cider Cookies

I currently have my apple cider cookies in a gallon-sized resealable bag.  According to Ask USDA, homemade cookies will last at room temperature for 2-3 weeks, 2 months in the fridge, and 8-12 months in the freezer.  Cookies need to be kept in airtight containers or storage/freezer bags.

(This only applies to “dry” cookies like these.  If you make some sort of moist bar cookies, they have a life expectancy of 7 days in the fridge.)

Now you know all there is about making delicious apple cider cookies.  If you haven’t made them before (like I hadn’t), whip up a batch to share at tailgates, fall festivals,  hay rides, bonfires, or other fun  autumn events.

Plain apple cider cookies on a white plate with a larger plate of cookies, a bowl of butterscotch sauce, and a Granny Smith apple in the background.
Apple Cider Cookies with butterscotch drizzle.

Triple Threat Apple Cider Cookies

Yield: About 8 dozen small cookies
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time for Butterscotch Sauce: 3 minutes
Total Time: 43 minutes

These apple cider cookies may earn a spot on your list of favorite fall foods!  The apple is a triple threat star in this cookie with apple cider mix, bottled apple cider, and chopped Granny Smith apple.  Oats and raisins, as well as an optional drizzle of butterscotch sauce, add to the harvest favor.  You won’t go wrong when you bake a batch of these to share at all sorts of autumn events.

Ingredients

  • For Cookies
  • ½ cup plus 6 tablespoons of shortening
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 packages apple cider mix
  • ¼ c plus 1 tablespoon apple cider
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup oats
  • ⅓ cup chopped raisins
  • For Butterscotch Sauce (optional)
  • ½ cup butterscotch sundae syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water

Instructions

To Make the Cookies:

  1. In a large mixing bowl cream the shortening and sugars.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla.  Mix well.
  3. Add 2 packages of apple cider mix and ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon of bottled apple cider (being sure to shake up the bottle if there is sediment collected on the bottom)..  
  4. Mix well, but carefully (the dough will splash if mixed too vigorously).
  5. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in small batches, mixing well before adding the next batch.
  7. Stir in 1 cup of oats.
  8. Chop enough raisins to make ⅓ cup  and mix them into the dough. 
  9. Core, peel, quarter, and finely chop 1 Granny Smith apple.
  10. Stir each quarter into the dough as soon as they are chopped.
  11. Place on a greased cookie sheet by rounded teaspoonfuls (the kind of teaspoon you eat with)
  12. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes -- watch to make sure the cookies don’t overbrown.
  13. Remove the cookies from the baking sheet immediately and cool on racks.To

Make the Optional Butterscotch Drizzle

  1. Pour ½ cup butterscotch sauce into a small bowl.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed into 1 tablespoon of cold water.
  3. Stir into the butterscotch syrup.
  4. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.
  5. The butterscotch sauce will continue to thicken after it cools.
  6. Using a spoon, drizzle over plated cookies in a zigzag pattern.
  7. Only drizzle cookies you are planning to serve the same day.
  8. Otherwise, store the butterscotch sauce in the refrigerator and microwave to warm for drizzling cookies as needed.
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Minnetonka Orchards has lots of apple recipes to inspire you. Check out these to get started:

Healthyish Apple Pancakes

Dangerously Delicious Apple Cider Rye Cocktail

Apple Cinnamon Bread

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