Oh Autumn!

The wait this year has seemed endless, but now you’re here.

What better way to celebrate the arrival of this spiciest of seasons than with apples, caramels and cinnamon infused sugar cookies!

Wait, what? Where’s the pumpkin you ask? Oh, pumpkin is great. But it’s not the only weapon in the Autumn arsenal! Time to “re-load” with Fall’s other stars. The target this week is one of my all-time favorite “pumpkin alternative” treats, Caramel Apple Snickerdoodle Bites.

Caramel Apple Snickerdoodle Bites and Friends

These snacks are perfect for a book club, work function, a local hospice or even just you and family! They do take more time than the average snickerdoodle as there are three parts (apples, caramel, and cookie cups). But they are oh, so worth it. I’ve provided a link to one easy caramel sauce recipe, but feel free to use your own or just your favorite pre-made! The original recipe makes 16-18 “cups” from a standard cupcake pan, but I’ve also made about double that using the smaller Calphalon muffin pan (see below).

RECIPE

(original from lifeloveandsugar)

Cookie cups

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cornstarch
1 recipe of Caramel sauce

Cinnamon Apples

2 apples, chopped
pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp butter

Instructions

1. Coat cupcake pan with non stick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream butter and sugars together for 5-7 minutes, until light and fluffy.

3. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until smooth. Dough will be thick.

5. Makes balls of about 2 tbsp of dough. Press cookie dough in bottom and about 1/3-1/2 way up the sides of each cupcake cup, forming a cup shape.

6. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

7. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to finish cooling. If the centers aren’t cupped enough to add filling, use the end of a wooden spoon or the bottom of a tablespoon to press the center down a bit.

8. Make caramel sauce according to instructions. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes, then pour into cookie cups, leaving enough space to add apples on top. I poured it into a measuring cup with a spout to make pouring easier.

9. Set cookie cups aside to allow caramel to cool while you make the cinnamon apples.

10. Combine apples, nutmeg, cinnamon and brown sugar in a medium pan and toss to coat.

11. Add butter and cook apples for about 10-15 minutes, or until at preferred softness.

12. Top cookie cups with apples.

Cookie cups can be stored in the fridge or at room temperature for 2-3 days. Best served warm. After they’ve cooled, they can be warmed up in microwave for 5-10 seconds.

Modifications

#1 -Cake Mix

The original recipe from “life love sugar” is delightful, but I experimented (of course). I mean, are you surprised?

After making the recipe from scratch and loving it, I wondered if I could hack it by using a yellow cake mix. I thought the cake mix might save time, but to be honest, I probably saved a whopping 10 minutes. However, both versions are scrumptious! I added the brown sugar and spices because otherwise it would taste just like, well, cookies made from a yellow cake mix. Below is the cake mix version for the snickerdoodle cups:

1 box Yellow Cake mix (any brand)

1 stick of butter

1 egg (or equivalent)

1/3 cup (or so) packed brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1.5 tsp Apple Pie Seasoning (or use 1 tsp cinnamon with a pinch of nutmeg)

Mix and then prepare just as in the original recipe starting at step 5 (the cake mix replaces the flour, white sugar, baking soda and cornstarch in original recipe).

#2 – Smaller Muffin Pan

The second modification I tried was a change in the pan size. These cookies are so rich that after making them once, I felt a regular cupcake size might be too big for an event like a business meeting or book club. I turned to my trusty favorite Calphalon mini-24 cup pan which is somewhere between the size of a standard cupcake and a true mini cupcake. I filled each cup to 3/4 full and baked at 350 for about the same time as in the original recipe. However, as always, I kept an eye on them! And yes, I turned the pan halfway through. I found these smaller “cuppies” were better suited to my needs.

I should also mention that I don’t bake with paper baking cups. I just don’t like their look after baking and also hate the treat sticking to the liner. Instead, I spray the pan instead of using liners and then “dress” the cuppies with a fresh baking cup for presentation. Be creative!

Enjoy!

Autumn is Awesome

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