For me, decorating the Christmas tree is a tradition steeped in memories of growing up and making the holidays a magical time, despite not having a lot of money to make that happen. It meant going out to Grandpa's woods to pick out the perfect tree. It meant hot cocoa after coming in from the cold and waiting for the tree to shed snow and ice. It meant delicious baked goods and being able to enjoy cookies and warm apple cider while we decorated the tree. For me, having a cookie (or three) that speaks of comfort, warmth, and tradition is almost as important as what the tree looks like when the "work" is done. So meet my tree-trimming cookies:
Those, my friends, are bursting with the flavors of caramel apples. They are wonderful on their own and become something just a bit magical when paired with a mug of warm apple cider. But beware: if you don't use a silicone baking mat, you might be fighting to get them off the cookie sheet and scrubbing said cookie sheet until Christmas morning to get it clean! These are amazing cookies, but the caramel bits in them really melt and can become a sticky mess if you don't plan ahead. So do that. If you don't have a silicone baking mat, ask Santa for an early present. After all, it will make leaving an amazing plate of cookies for him on Christmas Eve all the easier!
In addition to gooey puddles of caramel, these oatmeal cookies also boast chunks of sweet apple and pockets of cinnamon and cinnamon chips. Because there are apples baked in, they tend to stay moist for weeks … if they last that long! In my home, one cookie is enough per person but I do tend to make them on the large side so that every cookie is bursting with apples and caramel. When the cookies come off the sheet, each one will easily fill an adult's hand. You can imagine how big our youngster's eyes get when facing a treat like that!
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
- 1 cup Kraft Caramels - each cut into 4 pieces
- ½ cup mini cinnamon chips
- 2 apples - peeled, cored, and diced (I used Golden Delicious)
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat together the butter, oil, and sugars. Add the eggs and vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients. While mixing, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir in the caramel pieces, cinnamon chips, and apples. Make sure the apples, caramels, and chips are evenly distributed (if they clump up in the cookies, the cookies won't bake evenly).
Place golf ball-sized scoops of the dough onto the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart (you'll have about 8-9 cookies on a sheet). Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the bottom of the cookies are golden brown. Let the cookies rest for a minute or two on baking sheet before removing to wire rack to cool.
- Yields: About 36 servings
- Preparation Time: 30 minutes