Applesauce spice cake is a comforting snack; we wanted to transform its flavors into a portable treat—one that would be perfect for the kids’ lunch boxes or as a grown-up accompaniment to coffee or tea. But applesauce baked goods frequently are so overwhelmed with spices that they’re apple in name only. In addition, they are typically weighed down by moisture, making them dense, wet, and gummy. We wanted a light, fluffy applesauce cookie loaded with apple flavor. To achieve our goal we needed to find ways to eliminate water in the dough without decreasing the applesauce. Because applesauce acts as a binder, we found we didn’t need a lot of egg; just one yolk gave us structure and richness without added water from the white. Browning the butter, a technique we use for other cookies, further cut down on water and imparted a nutty depth, while blooming the cinnamon in the warm browned butter intensified its flavor. Finally, a healthy amount of baking soda gave the cookies lift, lightening the crumb; it also contributed to a nicely browned exterior. To give our soft, tender cookies some textural contrast, we mixed in crunchy toasted walnuts and drizzled the finished cookies with a tangy spiced glaze—a nod to our spice cake inspiration.
- Yield: 22 Cookies
- 1½ cups (7½ ounces) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¾ teaspoon plus ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
- ¾ cup packed (5¼ ounces) light brown sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 6 tablespoons (1½ ounces) confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, walnuts, baking soda, and salt together in bowl.
- Melt butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Continue to cook, swirling skillet constantly, until butter is dark golden and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Add ¾ teaspoon cinnamon and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 5 seconds. Transfer butter mixture to bowl; let cool for 15 minutes.
- Whisk applesauce, brown sugar, and egg yolk together in large bowl. Add butter mixture and whisk until combined. Stir in flour mixture until smooth. Drop 2 tablespoon mounds of dough onto prepared sheets, spacing them about 1½ inches apart.
- Bake cookies until edges are golden brown and centers are firm, 13 to 15 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.
- Whisk confectioners’ sugar, sour cream, and remaining ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon in bowl until smooth. Drizzle cookies with glaze and let dry for at least 15 minutes before serving.