A Trip To the Orchard & Spiced Apple Cookies

It’s no secret that I love apples. After all, that’s my gravatar image above. Last year I wrote a post called Musings On Apple Madness in which I talked about my lifelong love of apples, and the childhood memories they evoke.

So it was with great anticipation that the Culinary Enthusiast and I took Meredith and the Little Misses for their first apple picking experience just over a week ago. It was a sunny and crisp fall day, perfect for an hour or so in the orchard. Little Miss was delighted to be pulled around in the wagon. We had the pleasure of seeing her pick her first apples from the tree, and her pride as she dropped them into the bag (she didn’t quite grasp the concept of setting them down gently). And my, she sure loved eating a freshly picked and polished apple! She is still talking about the experience (“I picked!”). Her little sister also enjoyed the day from her vantage point in the stroller. She likes gnawing on an apple, but won’t be big enough to help with the picking for a year or two.

My daughter and I both hope that experiences like these will instil in the children a love for fresh, whole food, and an appreciation for where local food comes from and how it’s grown. This is also a wonderful way to build family traditions and memories, for the little ones and for us grown-ups. I know I’ll always treasure the memory of helping Little Miss pull her first apple from a tree, and walking hand in hand through the orchard with her.

Our apple picking excursion took us to Great Lakes Farms, outside Port Stanley on Lake Erie, where the CE and I go each year. This lovely and well-run farm was affected by the widespread weather conditions, including a devastating frost in April, that dramatically reduced orchard yields across a large part of North America. However, they do have apples of many varieties and almost all their crop of Galas. We still had a wonderful time, and I have to say the sobering knowledge of the reduced crop gave me a special appreciation for each and every apple we harvested.

After we were done picking our McIntosh and Honey Crisp bounty, we went to their bakery/cafe where the CE savoured a slice of their mile high apple pie, and Little Miss and I shared a delicious apple cookie. My daughter had a bowl of improbably neon-coloured ice cream (!); not exactly in keeping with the theme of the day, but she enjoyed it.

In the weeks to come, I’ll be featuring a number of apple recipes on the blog. I’d never had an apple cookie before, and it was so good that I was inspired to research recipes. The one I am featuring today is quite different from what I had at the farm, so I hope to find a recipe that’s closer to it. But don’t get me wrong, this one is delicious too! It’s a tender, cakey kind of cookie, with a wonderful spicy aroma, the sweet goodness of chopped apple and rich pecans. It tastes like fall in a cookie!

Spiced Apple Cookies

I adapted this recipe from one I found at a blog called The Naptime Chef. As the name of the blog suggests, these cookies whip up quite quickly! You can easily make them during naptime and welcome the kiddies back with warm cookies. This also applies to someone snoozing through a golf tournament on TV.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup unpeeled apple, finely chopped (I used a firm Honey Crisp but a softer variety like McIntosh would work well also)

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg, milk and vanilla and mix well, scraping down the bowl. Combine the flour, soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt, and add slowly, beating on low. Scrape down the bowl and ensure the mixture is well combined. Stir in the nuts and apple.

Drop generous tablespoonsful of the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. Press the tops down slightly with a dampened fork. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes until the edges are lightly browned and the cookies hold their shape. Cool on a rack.

These are the perfect cookies to enjoy with someone you love who also love apples.


  1. Your apple picking adventure with the Little Misses sounds like a great tradition that they’ll remember for years to come. I’m sure that it will instill an appreciate for fresh,home grown food. We try to do the same, although we haven’t gone apple picking yet this year. Too bad about the crops . . .

    • I hope you’ll get a chance to go apple picking with your girls this Fall; it’s such a lovely outing, and followed of course by lots of tasty apple recipes!

  2. That really was a killing frost that hit last April, wasn’t it? You are so right about building memories with your “Little Misses.” It’s a wonderful tradition to start. Zia still talks of taking her grandkids berry and apple picking when they were young. They’re in their 30s now and a couple have kids of their own.
    I don’t believe I’ve ever had apple cookies. (Yet, I somehow found the strength to go on.) Your recipe here sounds like a nice place to start. I love a plump cookie.

    • I’d never even thought of apple cookies before I tried one at the orchard. It was so good that I had to try making them myself! It’s fun to keep expanding our cooking horizons!

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