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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Caramel Stuffed Orange Infused Apple Cider Cookies

Every blog I have read about this recipe starts out with a command:

I couldn't agree more. These are incredible. They are chewy and sweet with the zest and spicy bite of apple cider. Now, I'm not a huge fan of cookies without chocolate (exceptions: ginger snaps and oatmeal raisin) but I had to give away most of these for fear of eating nothing else. I gave away about 4 dozen cookies just so I wouldn't have a binge weekend.

I made half of these cookies the way the original recipe says to make them, and the other half I decided to experiment with. When I make hot spiced apple cider I always add a whole orange for flavor. So, I added orange zest to the cookie dough to oomph up the cider flavor. I love what it added to the cookies! I definitely recommend adding the orange zest, but of course its optional and the cookies are wonderful without, just a little less zesty)

The only other changes I made to the recipe was the addition of rolling the cookie balls in a cinnamon-sugar mixture before placing on the cookie sheet, like you would do to a snickerdoodle. This is a must in my opinion.

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I used the square Kraft caramels for most of my cookies and when I ran out I used Werther's Original Chewy Caramels. The Werther's Originals are long rectangular shaped and therefore harder to make fit into a round cookie, though not impossible In the end I think they make a better cookie. They don't get hard after the cookies cool down so they are easier to eat and give that nice chewy caramel flavor and texture. The Kraft caramels work just fine, but I think the Werther's Originals are just a little bit better.

These cookies are best warm. They are good room temperature, but when they are warm they are just uber gooey, and chewy, and cinnamon-y, and apple-y, and caramel-y, and autumn-y, and... you get the point. Eat these warm from the oven, or pop them in the microwave for about 7 seconds. Or for the best eating experience, make a cup of hot apple cider (coffee or tea work too) and set your cookie on the rim of your mug. Let the steam from your cider waft up and into your cookie, softening the caramel and creating the perfect crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside cooking eating experience you will ever have the pleasure of, well, experiencing.

Caramel Stuffed Orange Infused Apple Cider Cookies
(recipe adapted from Scrambled Henfruit. Be sure to check out her lovely photos!)
  • 1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 box (7.4 oz) Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Instant Original Drink mix -not sugar free- all 10 packets (in the grocery store near the hot chocolate mixes.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 tablespoon(s) fine orange zest (about two oranges worth) - optional
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1-2 bag(s) Kraft Caramels or Werther's Original Chewy Caramels
  • Cinnamon-sugar mix (or mix 1/4 cup granulated sugar with 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon)
Preheat oven to 350° F. Line cookie sheets with parchment. (You really need the parchment!

In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon and orange zest.

In a mixer (or with an energetic spoon) cream together butter, sugar, salt and all 10 packages of apple cider drink mix powder, until light and fluffy.

Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and mix well.

Gradually add flour mixture to butter/egg mixture. Mix until just combined.

Refrigerate for about an hour. (If you're really impatient you don't have to do this, but it makes it so much easier to work with.)

When you are ready to bake, unwrap your caramels and put about 1/4 cup cinnamon-sugar mixture into a bowl. Scoop out cookie dough ball about the size of a walnut. (I used a rounded cookie scoop-full. My scoop holds about a tablespoon.)

Flatten the ball of dough slightly in the palm of your hand. Press the unwrapped caramel into the center of your dough and seal the dough around it, covering it completely. Roll the balls in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place on parchment covered cookie sheets 2 inches apart.

Bake 12-14 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges. Please don't over-bake! Once the cookies are done, slide the parchment off of the baking sheet right out onto the counter. Allow cookies to partially cool on the parchment. When cookies are cool enough to be firm but still slightly warm, carefully twist off of parchment and allow to finish cooling upside down (either on the parchment or on a rack.) If you forget about them and they cool too much and stick to your parchment, put them into the freezer for a few minutes and they'll pop right off.

Yield: about 4 dozen, depending on how large you make your cookies (or how many caramels have been snitched out of your bag before you begin.) Store in an airtight container.

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