One of my favorite traditions we’ve developed over the past five or so years is going to the local orchards in the fall and picking up a bunch of apples. You can read about my trip from a couple of years ago, if you like.
Well, apple picking means apple desserts. Usually we just make pies or apple crisps or crumbles, or even just apple chips, but I wanted to try something a little different this time around. All the same ingredients are there, the apples and the spices and the oats, but in a new form.
This recipe has two parts. The first part is an oatmeal cookie, formed into a cup shape using muffin tins and a shot glass. The second part is an apple pie filling you can make to spoon into the cups, to assemble the delicious treat.
There are a few things you can do differently with this recipe if you want. For one thing, I use a pumpkin spice mix that I’ll talk about a bit later; you can use mostly just cinnamon if you prefer something a little milder, but I find it loses some nuance to the flavors if you do.
The biggest variation is size. You can make full size muffin cup cookies, or you can make mini cups. The mini cups are a little harder to make since you can’t just use a shot glass to form them (since it turns out that a shot glass is the perfect size for forming the cups in a standard muffin tin) but it’s still not that bad to make. I used the tip of a lemon juicer, which was a little awkward but worked if I was careful.
Another option is just to use any other fruit you feel like using. These are basically little mini cookie-pie hybrids, and you can fill them with any pie filling you like. I think they would be delicious with cherry or mixed berry filling, in particular.
What Kind of Apples to Use?
There have been tons of blog posts written about the best kinds of apples to use for various purposes. I’m sure they’re all very good, but there’s a couple of problems with them.
The first is that there are so many different varieties of apples these days. Our orchard alone has something like 15 varieties, many of which are relatively new cultivars, so they don’t show up in any of those lists.
Another issue is that they’re just not as impactful as people think. Get good, fresh apples from an orchard if you can, or get in-season apples from a store or farmer’s market. Getting out of season apples, even if it’s a “better” variety, is probably going to give you worse results. The best apples are fresh apples.
For reference, for my recipe I used Honeycrisp, Crimson Crisp, and Pixie Crunch. They’re just what I had bought last time I was at the orchard, and they’re delicious.
The moral of the story is, use the apples you find tasty. If you pick a variety you don’t like just because someone on the internet tells you they’re “better” for the recipe, you’re still just using an ingredient you don’t like. Personally, I always say it’s better to have a recipe that turns out a little less than perfect than to force yourself to use “perfect” ingredients for something you won’t like as much.
What’s That Spice Mix?
In my recipe, I call for “pumpkin pie spice.” It’s really more of a generic autumn spice mix, useful just as much in apple recipes as in pumpkin recipes, so I hesitate to call it pumpkin spice. It’s just cinnamon with some extras to enhance the taste, and it’s better in pretty much all of the same purposes, in my opinion.
To make a batch that you can use in all sorts of recipes, use this:
- 3 Tablespoons of Ground Cinnamon
- 2 Teaspoons of Ground Ginger
- 2 Teaspoons of Ground Nutmeg
- 1.5 Teaspoons of Ground Allspice
- 1.5 Teaspoons of Ground Cloves
Mix it all up, store it in an air-tight jar, and use it anywhere plain cinnamon is called for. If you don’t like how much of a kick it has, you can dial back some on the ginger and cloves, but when you use it in a sweet treat like with apples, it balances out very nicely. Give it a try!
Anyway, that’s enough preamble. On with the recipe!
Apple Pie Oatmeal Cookie Cups
- Stand Mixer
- Muffin Tins
- Cooling Rack
- Mixing Bowls
- Apple Peeler
- Shot Glass
- Parchment Paper
For the Cookie Cups
- 1 Cup Butter Softened; 2 Sticks
- 1¼ Cup Brown Sugar
- ¼ Cup White Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 1¼ Cup Flour
- 1¾ Cup Rolled Oats
- 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 Tsp Baking Powder
- ½ Tsp Cinnamon
- ½ Tsp Pie Spice Mix See blog post for the mix; pumpkin pie spice works.
- ¼ Tsp Salt
For the Apple Filling
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 4 Medium Apples 3 Large apples also works.
- ¼ Cup Brown Sugar
- ¼ Cup White Sugar
- 2 Tsp Corn Starch
- 2 Tsp Cold Water
- 1 Tsp Pie Spice Mix
- ½ Tsp Cinnamon
- Caramel Sauce For topping; optional.
Make the Cookie Cups
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease your muffin pans and line the bottom with circles of parchment paper, to make the cups easier to get out when baked.
- In your stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
- Mix the eggs and vanilla into the butter mixture.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, pie spice, and salt.
- Add this dry mixture to the butter and egg mixture, and mix until it comes together.
- Scoop about 2 Tbsp into each muffin cup. Then, using a shot glass, press down to squeeze it around into a cup shape. It'll be sticky and a bit messy, but it'll work.
- Bake your muffin cups for about 20 minutes. When done, remove and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully remove them and put them on a cooling rack to finish cooling.
Make the Apple Filling
- While the cookie cups are baking and cooling, prep your apples by peeling, coring, and slicing them into small chunks.
- Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the apples and cook them over medium-high heat until they begin to soften.
- Add in your sugars, pie spice, and cinnamon, and stir. You'll want to melt and dissolve the sugar in the liquid from the apples.
- Mix together the corn starch and water, and add to the apple mixture to help thicken it.
- Continue cooking until the apples are soft, about ten minutes or so, depending on how large your chunks are.
- Let the apple mixture continue to cool and thicken.
Assemble the Treats
- To assemble, simply spoon some apple mixture into the cups and top with a drizzle of caramel. I highly recommend keeping them separate until ready to eat; if you leave the apple in over night, the cookies will soften up. It's still tasty, it's just not as easy to enjoy.