A seasonal favorite of kids (ok, and some adults) across the country, caramel apples are inarguably one of the edible encompassments of fall. The confection-encased fruit-on-a-stick treats are proffered at apple orchards, fairs, festivals, birthday parties, and Halloween celebrations just to name a few traditional venues.
Although I love the flavor combination of rich caramel and sweet apples, I don’t enjoy the sticky caramel that inevitably wedges itself in between my teeth and melts onto my chin. Not a pretty sight.
That’s where these Caramel Apple Granola Cookies come in.
Redolent of their caramel apple inspiration, these cookies are not only an easier treat to eat, but also a healthier one.
They have plenty of caramel flavor, as an all-natural caramel sauce is mixed straight into the batter as well as drizzled on top of the baked cookies. Chewy pieces of dried apple are tucked into the cookies, and unsweetened applesauce adds both moisture and additional apple flavor. I couldn’t help but add in some chopped roasted peanuts for extra measure.
The somewhat dense consistency from the oats, dried apples, and roasted peanuts renders these treats a cookie/granola bar hybrid. In fact, I bet they would also be great baked in a square pan and cut into bars before being crowned with caramel drizzle and chopped peanuts. I just might try that method sometime soon – perhaps with whole wheat pastry flour and a bit less sweetener for a heartier granola bar.
Serve a couple of these chewy granola cookies with a glass of ice-cold milk or a mug of steaming hot apple cider in order to fully embrace the fall season.
Caramel Apple Granola Cookies
inspired by Rather Be Baking
Makes about 30 cookies
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp all-natural caramel sauce, (Whole Foods sells their own brand), divided, at room temperature
- 2 Tbsp evaporated cane juice or granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup finely diced dried apple rings, preferably unsweetened and unsulfured
- 3/4 cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts, divided
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
- In a large bowl, combine applesauce, 1/4 cup caramel sauce, sugars, and vanilla extract. Stir until well-mixed.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
- Stir dry ingredients into the wet. Fold in dried apples and 1/2 cup chopped peanuts.
- Using a mini ice cream scoop or a small spoon, scoop dough onto prepared cookie sheet. The cookies won’t spread, so you might want to gently press down the tops a bit with a spoon for even baking.
- Bake about 8-10 minutes, or until lightly golden but still soft.
- Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 2-3 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack. Dip the tines of a fork into the remaining 2 Tbsp caramel sauce, and drizzle over top of cookies. Sprinkle cookies with remaining 1/4 cup chopped peanuts. Let cookies cool completely.
- Store in an air-tight container, preferably in the refrigerator so the caramel can harden… at room temperature the caramel is a bit gooey.