These Caramel Apple Cookies are mind-blowingly delicious in that they taste EXACTLY like a caramel apple, yet they’re in the form of a soft, cakey and chewy frosted cookie! Super scrumptious and perfect for fall!
I am in FULL fall mode.
I cannot be tamed or stopped. This train is at full speed, people. We’re full steam ahead into fall and Halloween. Fight me.
Between my fall baking and my new fall favorite drink at Starbucks (obsessed with their iced chai, add apple brown sugar syrup and apple drizzle – thank me later), I am fully embracing the season. Now if only the weather would cooperate.
I feel like pumpkin hogs all the spotlight for fall baking, but apple is my true fall baking favorite, and caramel apples, in my opinion, are a quintessential fall staple. These cookies epitomize fall baking and it is crazy how much they taste like a caramel apple!
The cookies are soft, plush, and cakey which is pretty standard when you’re baking with apples. Apples give off moisture which makes baked goods extra springy and cakey. That’s fine, though, because it works for these cookies. The cookies get their signature apple flavor from both shredded fresh apples and apple juice concentrate, aka the frozen stuff in a can you can buy to make big pitchers of apple juice. I find this concentrated apple juice is, well, concentrated – and has a deeper, richer apple flavor than a regular bottle of apple juice. However, any apple juice will work in this recipe. We’ll enhance that apple-y flavor with spices, too. You can buy premade apple pie spice, or use the individual spices as I have them listed.
The frosting is a delicious caramel apple frosting that sets nice and hard on the cookies, but yields when you bite into it – similar to a praline icing. Made of brown sugar, butter, more apple juice concentrate, salt, and confectioners’ sugar, it has a rich caramelly flavor with a hint of apple that’s so perfect. The frosting sets VERY fast, so I recommend keeping it hot on the stove over low heat while you’re frosting your cookies one at a time so it doesn’t set before you have a chance to garnish the cookies. If it hardens in the pan, just heat it up, stir, and thin out with some more apple juice concentrate. Because I prefer my caramel apples with peanuts, I topped these cookies with chopped peanuts, but chopped pecans would be fantastic, too!
Soft, cakey, and full of amazing caramel apple flavor, these Caramel Apple Cookies are sure to be your new fall favorite!
*adapted from Better Homes and Gardens/Midwest Living
The Best Caramel Apple Cookies
For the Cookies:
- 8 Tbsp (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 1¼ cups light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed but still cold
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 cup Granny Smith apple, peeled and shredded about 2 small apples (you can use another favorite tart apple of your choice)
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
For the Frosting:
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 Tbsp cold, thawed apple juice concentrate reserve the remainder of the can just in case*
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2½ cups confectioners' sugar
- ¾ cup chopped peanuts or pecans, whichever you prefer
- Preheat oven to 350° degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a small bowl, toss together the shredded apple with the lemon juice and set aside.
- For the cookies: In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar with the paddle attachment until creamy, about 30 seconds. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix well until blended. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg until fully combined.
- Add half of the flour mixture into the beaten butter mixture and mix well, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed. Add in the apple juice concentrate, mixing well. Lastly, add in the remaining flour mixture and mix until fully combined. Toss the shredded apple and juices and fold to combine.
- Drop heaping 2-Tablespoon-size balls of dough onto the baking sheets about 2-3" apart from one another, using a wet finger to pat down any apple pieces sticking out. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time to ensure even cooking. Cool on the baking sheets for about 10 minutes, then carefully transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Cookies are very soft and delicate.
- For the Frosting: In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, 3 Tbsp apple juice concentrate and salt over medium heat and cook until butter melts and brown sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally to prevent it from scorching. Remove from heat and whisk in the confectioners' sugar until a thick icing comes together. Working quickly, ice one cookie at a time using an offset spatula or a knife and immediately garnish with chopped peanuts or pecans, if using. If the frosting hardens, thin it out over low heat with some more reserved apple juice concentrate, whisking it in to combine. I recommend keeping the icing over low heat and whisking it occasionally to keep it moistened and warm.
- Store cookies at room temperature in an airtight container.
I am obsessed with these cookies and I know you will be, too!
Have a super sweet day!