Tag Archives: Apple

Apple Cider Cookies for the Go Bo! Bake Sale

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen recently that I signed up to donate decorated cookies for the Go Bo! Bake Sale. For the whole story, go check out that link. In short, a 12 year-old boy (Bo) was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. While fighting cancer, he started the Go Bo! Foundation to fund cancer research and childhood treatment. The year he passed, a bake sale was planned as a fundraiser for the foundation. A local cookier took to social media to spread the word about the bake sale and ask any other cookiers to donate decorated cookies. That was in 2012, and they raised $5,000 at that bake sale. As word has spread, more and more cookiers have donated. Last year they were able to raise over $30,000!

When I heard about the fundraiser, I knew I wanted to decorate some cookies to donate. I pored over cookie after cookie on Pinterest, and finally settled on a design. It was a hybrid of a few others I had seen out there, and I have to say I really love the way they came out. I made royal icing transfer and then attached them to the flooded cookies. Here are the images I used as templates.

After I knew what design I wanted to create, I had to decide what flavor to make. I love my basic butter cookie recipe, but I wanted something a little more special. So I thought about the apple cider shortbread I had made at Christmas last year. I knew I could combine that idea with my favorite butter cookie, so that’s what I did. Most of the flavor comes from instant hot cider mix, but I felt like it needed another punch of apple flavor, so I reduced some apple cider down to a syrup and mixed that in as well. It was exactly what I was looking for! I think these will be making a reappearance at Christmas this year!

There aren’t a lot of easy substitutions for this recipe. But you could brown the butter and then cool and solidify it before creaming with the sugar. Or, use maple syrup instead of the cider syrup for a hint of maple. And, I suspect you could use instant (sweetened) ice tea mix instead of the cider mix (leaving out the reduced cider syrup) for a summery version of this cookie. In fact, I may try that next summer!

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Apple Cider Cookies
  1. Place apple cider into a saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat and cook until it is reduced to 2 tablespoons. Set aside to cool.
  2. Cream butter with sugar and hot cider mix.
  3. Beat in egg, vanilla, and cooled reduced cider.
  4. MIx in salt and flour until well blended.
  5. Depending on how warm your butter was, you may need to chill the dough for up to an hour to make rolling easier.
  6. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to nearly 1/4 inch thickness, and cut out with desired cookie cutter.
  7. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes. Cookies should be lightly browned around the edges.
  8. Cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes before moving to a rack to cool completely.
  9. Decorate as desired. You can also decorate with sprinkles before baking.
Recipe Notes
  • Use parchment or silicon mats on the cookie sheets if desired.
  • Roll thinner if a crisper cookie is desired.
  • Use maple syrup in place of the reduced cider for a slight variation.
  • Omit the reduced cider and replace the hot cider mix with sweetened ice tea mix for a summery cookie.
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Caramel Apple Bars


It’s finally fall!

I haven’t had a lot of field work this summer, which has actually been a little bit of a relief, since it has been SO HOT. I have been ready for fall for about a month now, and next week we are finally supposed to have some fall-like weather. Yay! Just in time too, since I’ll be heading back out to the field for the week.

Anyway, in honor of fall and apple season, I decided to put a spin on a family favorite recipe. Originally, these were called Cherry Bars. It’s a recipe my family has been making for years. It makes an appearance at family picnics and gatherings all through the summer. Moist yellow cake dolloped with cherry pie filling and topped with an almond glaze. What’s not to love?


Well, if you’re like me, the cherries are what’s not to love. I love cherry flavor, just not the texture of cooked cherries. This was one dessert I usually skipped. The few bites I have eaten, around the pieces of cherries, were delicious. So, I decided to change it up. Any fruit pie fillings would work here, but since it’s fall, I decided it was time for apples.


You can absolutely use a can of your favorite pie filling. Cherry, blueberry, peach – the sky’s the limit! That’s how we’ve always made the cherry version. But for the apple, I decided to make a homemade filling. The trick is to cook it all the way on the stovetop first, like a canned filling would be. Just peel and chop the apples, then combine them with butter, sugar, flour, and spices. Cook the mixture in a covered pot until the apples are cooked and the juices are thickened. Let it cool completely while you whip up the cake batter.

Cream your butter and sugar, add your vanilla and eggs, and then mix in the dry ingredients. So easy! Spread part of the batter into your pan, and dollop on the pie filling. Drop the rest of the batter by spoonfuls over the filling. Bake it up, let it cool, and drizzle it with a delicious glaze. I sprinkled on a few chopped pecans, but that’s always optional.


The glaze is minimal, but adds so much flavor. Almond goes so well with cherries, and I highly recommend this glaze if you make the cherry bars. A sprinkle of sliced almonds would add a nice crunch as well. While I love almond flavor, caramel and apples just seem to belong together. And a scattering of pecans or walnuts is perfect with those flavors. I would try a lemon glaze with a blueberry filling (just add some lemon zest and use lemon juice instead of milk – leave out the extract). And you could make a vanilla glaze to go with any of these flavors by using vanilla extract instead of the other flavorings. What flavors would your family like?


Caramel Apple Bars
Yields 24
Yellow cake, pie filling, and a drizzle of caramel!
For the Filling
  1. 21-ounce can of your favorite fruit pie filling, OR
  2. 4 cups diced apples (about 1/2-inch dice)
  3. 6 tablespoons sugar
  4. 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmug
  5. 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  6. heavy pinch of salt
  7. 1 tablespoon butter
  8. 2 tablespoons flour
For the cake
  1. 1 cup butter or margarine
  2. 1 3/4 cup sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  4. 4 eggs
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  6. 3 cups flour
For the glaze
  1. Powdered sugar glaze, OR
  2. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  3. 1/4 cup butter
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 2 tablespoons milk
  6. 1 cup powdered sugar
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  8. 2 tablespoons chopped pecans
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For the apple pie filling
  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until butter is melted and apples are beginning to soften. Cover pan and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until apples are cooked through, stirring occasionally, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
For the cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10x15-inch pan.
  2. Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla extract and eggs and beat well. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Spread two-thirds of the batter into the prepared pan. Dollop the pie filling over the batter. Drop the remaining batter by spoonfuls over the pie filling. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool.
For the glaze
  1. Heat brown sugar and butter in a saucepan over medium heat until both are melted. Bring to a boil and add salt and milk. Return to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Drizzle over cooled cake and immediately sprinkle with chopped pecans if desired.
  1. This cake is best within a day or two. If you want to keep it longer, store it in the refrigerator.
  2. Use whatever pie filling you like. One 21-ounce can is about 2 1/2 cups of homemade filling.
  3. Adapt the glaze flavor to the pie filling you are using. Vanilla, almond, lemon - the possibilities are endless!
The Archaeologist Bakes http://www.thearchaeologistbakes.com/
 Caramel glaze adapted from Cooking Club of America.