My favorite Halloween candy is a bit of a wild card. I’m sure if I asked you to guess, most people would assume something chocolately (Reese’s! Butterfingers! Almond Joy!) and while all of those are delicious, you’d be very far off from my favorite. Hint: it has no chocolate in it. And it’s green.
Caramel Apple Pops! Crazy, right? Out of all the awesome candy out there, I choose a hard, artificially colored and flavored sucker. I know! But I absolutely love them. In high school, I would buy a whole bag of them at the beginning of October and leave them in my car—a black, 1985 Crown Victoria. Everyday after school, I’d hop in, unwrap a caramel apple sucker and happily get a sugar high while singing at the top of my lungs to Britney Spears playing on my Discman with a tape adapter. I was cool as hell.
Of note, Babyface informed me last night that these are not seasonal candy and are around all-year ’round. I don’t believe him.
These cookies have nothing to do with the candy other than the fact that I tried desperately to pull the essence of my favorite Halloween treat into them. This soft, cakey oatmeal cookie is lightened up with a hefty dose of applesauce in place of oil or other fats. To make the caramel part ring true, I whipped up a quick-and-easy vegan caramel sauce to top the cookies. Mmm! Nothing bad ever came out of a batch of caramel sauce.
These cookies have a decent amount of sugar in them, but I think the general nutrition profile is pretty impressive for a sweet treat. I’ve been using these as pre-workout fuel and they have been working great. If you wanted, these could easily turn into a breakfast cookie just by backing down on the sugar and adding in some nuts and dried fruits for mix-ins. Yum!
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Caramel Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies
Inspired by Eating Well
Instead of making the well to hold the caramel, we also tried a batch with the caramel just drizzled on top. It ended up melting and turning into a sticky (but delicious) mess. The end result looked like tiny brains. Not so appetizing for everyday, but fun and festive if you make these for Halloween.
Makes two dozen large cookies
For the caramel sauce:
- 3/4 cup apple juice
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder or cornstarch
- 1/2 cup vegan margarine (like Earth Balance)
- 1/2 cup sucanat
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the cookies:
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 1/2 whole-wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- For the caramel sauce: in a medium saucepan, whisk together the apple juice and arrowroot powder until arrowroot is dissolved.
- Heat the saucepan over medium heat, add in all other caramel sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil and let boil for about one minute, or until sauce is thick and frothy. Remove from heat and set aside.
- For the cookies: combine sugar, applesauce, egg white and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Set aside
- In a second large bowl, whisk together oats, flour, soda, cinnamon and salt.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.
- Drop dough by large rounded spoonfuls onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.
- Using the back of a spoon, create a large indentation in the middle of each cookie.
- Spoon some of the caramel sauce into each indentation.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes until cookies are light brown. Let cool on cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes and then remove to wire racks to cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge (the applesauce makes these perishable).