Hello world, I want to talk to the non-pumpkin people for a minute here. I feel for you.
What do you eat when September rolls around? Do you resent everyone else walking around extolling the praises of the all-wonderful PSL? Do you even like fall? Please don’t discriminate against one of the best times of year just because of the shortsightedness that is pumpkin spice obsession. I understand that seasonally spiced lattes have been available to chug for a few weeks now, and blogs everywhere are crowning that rotund orange squash the king of the fall flavor profile. But I always always want to take a step back, take a deep breath of fresh autumn air (smell the crisp leaves!), and remember to appreciate all the other beautiful things to eat that aren’t pumpkin. Everyone deserves to experience the joy of fall, even non-pumpkin people.
Apple cider is one of those amazing-delicious-I-could-literally-die-happy-as-long-as-I-could-finish-this-mug-of-cider things to enjoy during the fall months. When I was a kid, my family would visit a beautiful apple u pick farm every year when the air started getting cooler. We would pick bags and bags of crisp, juicy, cold apples. Halloween we spent at a Harvest Festival riding hay rides, petting bunnies, and drining mugs and mugs of warm apple cider and eating donuts. It was heaven! I think that might be why I love apple cider so much. It brings bac lots of childhood memories.
These cookies would be perfect if they were just sugar cookies shaped like cute little apples. But they are so much more than that. They are adorable AND they taste like that spiced deep apple cider I drank as a kid. I was seriously motivated to make apple cider flavored cutouts that really tasted like apple and not just your typical “spice cookies.” And I got it, you guys. These cookies are it! We’ve got apple cider in the dough and apple cider in the frosting so you can’t miss it. I can’t stop eating them.
So a few notes about some things included in this recipe: apple flavoring or apple oil. I got mine from Amazon (it’s from Lorann Oils) awhile back when I got ambitious and wanted to try making hard candy. It’s optional because the apple cider in the recipe gives it enough flavor, but I think the apple oil gives it an extra oomph. It’s very strong so only a few drops is needed, but like I mentioned you can totally make these without it and they are equally amazing.
Secondly, these might look intimidating or seem like they take a long time because they are decorated with royal icing. Don’t be alarmed, you can easily skip a lot of this steps! You can skip the stiff icing and piping and drizzle the thinned cider icing right over the cookies and it will harden as it dries. You can also turn these cutouts into drop cookies if you like. They will be thicker and softer instead of a more firm shaped cookie, but they are delicious that way too! If you want an in depth tutorial of how to frost cookies with royal icing I suggest heading over to Annie’s Eats, she has a great post that is full of information.
Mmmmm…happy fall! And remember to spread the fall flavor love. *runs to drink the last mug of warm cider*
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- ½ cup white sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 packet dry apple cider mix
- 1 egg
- ⅛th teaspoon apple oil
- 2½ cups flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ tsp allspice
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ cup milk
- In a mixer cream the butter, apple cider mix, and two sugars until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and apple oil and mix until fully incorporated.
- Add all of the dry ingredients and milk and mix until it comes together into a dough. Chill the cookie dough at least 40 minutes and up to two hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out the cookie dough to about ⅛ inch thickness. Cut out cookies with a cutter, dip in flour if it seems to be sticking. Place on a baking sheet 1 inch apart. Bake for 8-12 minutes until the edges are just slightly golden.
- Remove cookies to cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting.
- For frosting, combine 2 tablespoons of meringue powder, 2½ cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons apple cider, 3 tablespoons water, and a few drops of apple oil in the stand mixer and mix for about 7 minutes until the frosting is thick and glossy. Remove about ⅓ cup of icing to tint green and tint the remaining frosting red. In a piping bag outline the apple shape on the cookies. With the green frosting pipe stems and leaves.
- Take the remaining red frosting and add apple cider one tablespoon at a time until it is slightly runny. It should create a ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl and remains on the surface for a few seconds before disappearing.
- "Flood" the cookie outlines with the thinned icing, or drizzle back and forth over the cookies for a more informal finish.