Salted Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookies / by Kelsey Vlamis

Here's something you've probably never heard before: My mom is the best cook I know. Okay, I know everyone says that about their own mom. But I challenge anyone who doubts me to try my mom's veal with pine nuts, her lobster-vodka sauce with homemade 8 finger cavatelli, or her inexplicably addicting rack of lamb (I think her seasoning must include trace amounts of cocaine? idk for sure). While her savory dishes are some of the best I've ever had, don't even get me started on her desserts.

I say this whole-heartedly, her desserts are on another level, and for all my life all of my friends lucky enough to experience them have agreed. This has served as both a blessing and a curse: I am greeted with mounds of heavenly rich desserts every time I come home; I also am near-incapable of fully enjoying dessert made by anyone else (including myself), because as my boyfriend has heard countless times (and has been annoyed by ever since we met), "It's good, but you need to try my mom's."

In the past couple years, my mom has adapted an oatmeal cookie recipe to create the most insanely delicious cookie I've ever had, littered with too-much chocolate chips (if such a thing were possible), and chewy pieces of homemade toffee. In the spirit of fall, and the salted caramel trend that doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, I adapted this recipe from hers. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy my mom's.

Salted Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookies
makes about 24 large cookies

for the apples
2 cups raw apples (I used fuji), chopped into 1/2 inch cubes (about 2 apples)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon brown sugar

for the cookies
1 cup (or two sticks) butter
2 cups brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 + 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups quick-cooking oats

for the caramel drizzle
1/2 - 1 cup salted caramel

scant 1/2 cup of cooled caramel, roughly chopped into small pieces

make caramel*
I've used this recipe for dry caramel, and this recipe for wet caramel. If you've never made caramel before, wet caramel is typically easier to make than dry (though the end result is basically the same).

sauté apples
If desired, skin apples (I didn't), and chop into 1/2 inch cubes. Set a skillet over medium-low heat and add about 1-2 tsp butter/oil. When warm, add apples, cinnamon, and brown sugar, and sauté until soft but not mushy, about 5 minutes.

prepare cookie dough
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat together until well blended. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat again until blended. Stir in oats, sautéed apples, and chopped caramel (if desired**) until evenly distributed.

bake cookies
Scoop dough and drop onto greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Size your scoops at 1/2 - 1 rounded tbsp, depending on preference. Bigger scoops will take slightly longer to cook. Bake about 10-12 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool for 3 minutes, then transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely.

drizzle caramel
Once cool, drizzle warm caramel over cookies, using as much or as little as you prefer [as far as I'm concerned, more is more ;) ]. Full disclosure: I actually drizzled more caramel over these cookies after I took the photos.

*If you have never and do not want to attempt homemade caramel for this recipe, you can use a thick, store-bought caramel sauce instead. Preferably one that hardens up a bit at room temp.
**Adding chopped pieces of caramel to the cookies add an extra caramel chewiness that I love, however, can result in some divots in the cookies where the caramel pieces melted during baking. While totally delicious, the cookies will look less perfect/uniform. I like it that way :) but it's your call!