I've been attempting to make an apple cookie for years now. In my mind, an apple cookie is obviously going to be an apple-oatmeal cookie, so a go-to oatmeal cookie recipe is where I started. I added bits of chopped up apple, but the pieces of fruit were too big (stayed hard) or you couldn't taste the apple at all (pieces too small, or too much spice.) My ideal cookie would frankly taste similar to Quaker Oats instant apple cinnamon oatmeal. But for some reason I just never got there.
And then last week I got the flu, and was knocked on my butt to the point where I couldn't really eat anything, and definitely couldn't leave the house. My husband came to the rescue, picking up OJ, bananas, Saltines, and applesauce (and also making a killer pot of chicken soup.) Because he's that kind of guy, he bought me two giant jars of applesauce just in case. Now, healthy again, I found myself staring down way more applesauce than I could ever eat plain.
That's when it came to me: use applesauce in my apple cookies, of course! Substituting applesauce for oil is a trick that many recipes use to cut down on fat, but that's not its purpose here. In fact there's still a smidge of butter in the recipe, though apple sauce is the primary wet ingredient (and makes the final cookies ever so slightly sticky.)
The base is a chewy oatmeal cookie, with just enough cinnamon to round out the flavors without overwhelming the taste of the apple. I diced up a Granny Smith apple to tiny, just smaller than frozen peas-n-carrot size, then stirred them in alongside some toasted walnuts.
The resulting cookies were chewy, lightly spiced, sweet, and most importantly, tasting primarily of real, fresh apples.