“It’s a Twister! It’s a Twister!”

COOKING ADVENTURE # 42: Apple Cider Caramel Cookies

So, readers, once again we find ourselves at the beginning of a Cooking Adventure that was for lack of a better phrase, “easy as pie.” I had decided that I was going to make some Apple Cider Caramel Cookies for a couple of readings that were to happen at the Camden and Rockland Public Libraries in Maine. Now, I had figured I’d have enough time to figure out what I was going to read, bake the cookies, make a poster board featuring all of the readers, and prepare my introduction ahead of time. But in all reality, working on both days of the reading had me doing everything the night before the first one was to begin. I ended up writing a ten page segment to read AND baking cookies. Because I rock at multi-tasking. I actually made two batches of these cookies because they were such a hit at the first reading. However, it was during the making of the second batch in which I encountered a supernatural apple cider phenomenon that I will call “The Twister”. In lieu of the Frankenstorm that’s about to hit here in New England, I felt that the title was fitting for this piece.

So, it’s Sunday morning. And it looks as though the sky is about to open up and pour rain down on us momentarily. Being in Maine, I’ve seen my fair share of crazy winter storms. But hurricanes? Not much experience. And having moved closer to the coast a few years ago, can I just say that I’m slightly intimidated. If this thing is going to be as nasty as they say, and we lose power… and my car gets washed away in a flash flood… well… that would really be something. But at least I still have some ingredients to make those apple cider cookies again in preparation if need be. Because they truly were amazing cookies.

On Monday night at roughly ten o’clock, I decided to start in making them. I’d been working on my reading earlier and needed to take a break. So into the kitchen I skipped, ready to dive in. The recipe on the original site, which can be found here at Six Sisters’ Stuff, actually has a recipe to make more cookies than what I made. I had to half the recipe. Why you ask? Because I only had one stick of butter in my fridge and the original recipe calls for two (or 1 cup of butter). So the entire recipe, I had to half.

I took the one stick of butter and peeled off the paper wrapper. On the second batch that I made, the paper wouldn’t come off! I tore at it with my fingernails, proceeding to get butter underneath them. When I thought I’d gotten it all off, I put the stick of butter in a glass measuring bowl and placed it in the microwave to heat for a minute. I pulled it out, having melted it, and then added the required half cup of sugar. It was while I was mixing these two together that I discovered a stowaway piece of paper which I quickly plucked out and tossed away. Next, I added 1/4 tsp salt, and five packets of apple cider powdered drink mix.

Now, I know you’re probably wondering why you can’t use regular apple cider. I even had some in the fridge while making the second batch and wondered this myself. I think that it would just make the cookie dough too runny. So instead, I opened a box of the apple cider drink mix and ripped open the first package. On the first cookie batch, everything went okay. The second… well… here’s where the twister comes in.

I ripped the packet open and immediately a cloud of apple cider dust exploded in my face when I tilted it to put it into the mix. Waving my hand to try and clear it, I went to the second packet and opened that… the same thing happened. Apple Cider dust filled the kitchen like some sort of cloud. I decided to turn on the overhead stove vent in order to clear away some of the cloud. And doing that resulted in the weirdest thing I’ve ever witnessed in the kitchen; an apple cider tornado. I kid you not, the vent was sucking the powder from the mixing bowl and causing this cyclone in the air between the two. And as I added the next packets to it, it only seemed to intensify. Immediately, the Wizard of Oz popped into my head (like it does in most instances). My cat was watching from down the hall, his lemon eyes fascinated by the cyclone. I turned to him and shouted, “Lemon Jelly! It’s a twista! It’s a twista!” at which point, he turned tail and fled, his back feet sliding on the tiled floor as his claws tried to grasp it.

Finally, after all the packets had been opened and dumped in, I began to mix everything together. Thankfully, the twister dissipated at this point and I was able to continue with the recipe. I cracked an egg into it and mixed that first. Then, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1/4 tsp baking powder and stirred everything together with a big spoon. The smell of the vanilla complimented the apple cider nicely and once again made me anxious to see the final results of this adventure. I prepared the baking pan by covering it with a sheet of parchment paper. I had to fold it at the edges so that it wouldn’t just slip off. Preheating the oven at 350 degrees, I added the last ingredient into the cookie mix: flour. I only used 1 and 1/2 cups of it, adding each 1/2 cup gradually. It was much easier to mix everything this way.

Then when I had a thicker dough, I used the big spoon to scoop out balls and then placed them on the parchment paper. The directions say to spread them so that there are two inches between each cookie. But, if I’d done that on my pan, I’d have fit only five cookies. Instead, I just placed them with a little space between each one and managed to fit 16. Now, it came time for the caramel.

I found a bag of the Werther’s Original soft caramels at the store on sale. After twisting the wrapper off, I ripped each piece into thirds and flattened it as much as I could with the back of a spoon. Then, I pressed this caramel piece into the top of the cookie and pushed the dough up over it so it was submerged. This part wasn’t as easy as I make it sound. The caramel kept sticking to me and I had to keep washing my hands with warm water to get it off. When each cookie had a caramel piece inside, I slid the cookies into the oven for 13 minutes.

When they came out, they were very soft and had flattened out so that the entire pan was just a sheet of cookie with slight indentations to tell me where each individual cookie was. I pulled one out with a knife and pulled it in half, revealing a rich gooey caramel center. My cookies didn’t appear to have as much caramel in them as the ones in the original recipe but they were still delicious and were a knock-out at both readings. Definitely a fall treat that I’ll be making again…

Next week on Cooking Adventures, I’ll be making my last Halloween-inspired recipe. I found a fantastic recipe for glow in the dark ghost cupcakes on Pinterest at the beginning of the season that I’ve been dying to try. Hopefully I’ll be able to do it this week (provided I don’t lose power!) Keep your fingers crossed for me!

~KSilva

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