I am still on an apple kick, everyone. I had more apples left over from our apple picking excursion, even after making the apple crisp. I decided it was time to make applesauce! Then, after I made the applesauce, I wondered what to do with it all. So, I decided to make gluten-free caramel applesauce cookies. It was an apple-win all around.
First, for the applesauce, I kept it super simple and used my slow cooker. I grabbed the last 10 apples I had left (none were super big, most were small-medium), and peeled and cubed them. I put all the apple pieces into my slow cooker, along with a cup of water, a squeeze of lemon, a teaspoon of gingerbread spice, an extra half teaspoon of cinnamon, just a few teaspoons of brown sugar, and a splash of apple cider I happened to have in the fridge. The apple cider wasn’t necessary, but I figured if I had it, it couldn’t hurt anything. I set my slow cooker on high for 4 hours and stirred occasionally. At the end, I used my spoon to mash up some of the bits, but it basically turned out like chunky spicy applesauce. You could also use a handheld mixer or immersion blender to make it totally smooth. See the handy printable below for the recipe.
Now that I had all this delicious applesauce, I wanted to bake something with it. I am always trying to think of ways to limit the sugar/butter/gluten-free flour aspect of recipes and make things healthier. Not just calorie/fat-wise, but also in a way that my body feels good after I eat something. I wanted to make cookies, and decided that using my applesauce and a combination of gluten-free flour and gluten-free oat flour was just what I was looking for – and that is how I came up with my caramel applesauce cookies.
I started by creaming together brown sugar, an egg, vegetable oil, and applesauce. I used THE applesauce from my slow cooker so it already had a lot of yummy spices in it. You can just tell by the color of the batter that the flavors are going to be great.
In my second bowl, I mixed together gluten-free flour, oat flour, baking soda, and spices. I didn’t have to go as heavy on the spices as I would normally because of my flavored applesauce. If you use regular, natural applesauce, I would suggest increasing the spices for sure (I made suggestions in the printable recipe, below). Now, you’ll see I used oat flour – this was simply using my mini food processor to grind gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats. If you use oat flour to substitute some of your regular gluten-free flour, use about 25% less oat flour than the recipe calls for (so if it calls for 2 cups of gluten-free flour, you could use 1 cup of gluten-free flour and ¾ of a cup of oat flour).
You may also note that there is no salt included in this recipe. This is because the caramel chips I used were sea-salt caramel chips. I tasted one before starting the recipe, and I could tell I did not need to use any additional salt. If you use regular caramel baking chips, add a ½ teaspoon of salt.
I added the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and gave everything a stir. Saving the best for last, I gently stirred in my sea salt caramel chips (mine were Hershey’s brand).
I dropped about a tablespoon of dough per cookie onto a cookie sheet with parchment paper (to prevent sticking), and placed it in a 325 degree oven for exactly 12 minutes.
The cookies came out DELICIOUS – a cakey, oat and spice cookie with delicious caramel flavor. These will not be crispy cookies; they stay nice and soft. The caramel chips really add a ton of flavor, and the oat flour a lot of texture.
One thing I want to further add – if you are allergic to peanuts, you need to check the ingredients label on all of the caramel chip bags. On the particular kind I used (Hershey’s sea salt caramel chips), there is a warning on the label that the caramel chips are made on the same equipment that processes peanuts. Therefore, as my daughter is allergic to peanuts, before I mixed the caramel chips into the batter, I poured a small amount of batter into a second bowl. In the second bowl, I used white chocolate chips that I know are safe for V, instead of the caramel chips. Since her allergy to peanuts is severe, I avoid products with warning labels like this one. Just a heads up, because I reviewed quite a few different caramel chip products and could not find one that I considered safe for peanut allergies.
Slow Cooker Spicy Applesauce
• 10 apples, tart variety
• 1 cup of water
• a squeeze of lemon juice (just a small amount)
• 1 teaspoon of gingerbread spice mix, or ¼ teaspoon each of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice
• ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
• splash of apple cider (optional, if you have it already)
• 2 teaspoons of brown sugar
Directions: Peel and chop the apples into 1 or 2 inch chunks. Place in slow cooker. Add to the apples in the slow cooker, the water, squeeze of lemon, spices, splash of apple cider, and 2 teaspoons of brown sugar. Mix, and cover the slow cooker. Set on High for 4 hours. Stir a few times during cooking. When the applesauce is finished, you can either leave it chunky, or puree with a hand-held mixer or immersion blender to make it smooth. Let cool for a bit, then refrigerate.
Gluten-free Caramel Applesauce Cookies
• ¾ cup of brown sugar
• 1 egg
• ¾ cup of vegetable oil
• 1 cup of cinnamon or spice-flavored unsweetened applesauce (if natural applesauce is used instead, increase spices below)
• 1 ¼ cups of gluten-free flour
• 1 cup of gluten-free oat flour made from GF old-fashioned rolled oats
• ½ teaspoon of baking soda
• ½ teaspoon of salt if you are using regular caramel chips only
• ½ teaspoon of gingerbread spice mix (or 1/8 teaspoon each of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and allspice.) If your applesauce is natural flavored, increase to 1 teaspoon of gingerbread spice mix, or ¼ teaspoon each of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and allspice)
• ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon (if natural apple sauce, add ½ teaspoon instead)
• ¾ cup of caramel chips (if sea salt caramel chips, omit salt)
Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together brown sugar, egg, oil, and applesauce. In a food processor, process 1 cup of gluten-free rolled oats until course/fine. In a second bowl, add the gluten-free flour, gluten-free oat flour, baking soda, and spices. If you are using sea-salt caramel chips, do not use salt. If you have regular caramel chips, add ½ teaspoon of salt. Mix dry ingredients, then gently fold in caramel chips. Drop a tablespoon of batter per cookie onto a greased or parchment-paper covered cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Let cool a few minutes on pan before removing to a cooling rack.