Apple Currant Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen

1 cup apple cider
1 cup currants
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups dark-brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup Apple Butter
1 large egg, room temperature
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3 to 4 crisp and tart cooking apples, such as Ida Red or Empire
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling

1. Heat the oven to 350°f. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat non-stick baking mat. Heat cider in a small saucepan to a simmer. Place currants in a bowl; pour warm cider over them. Let plump at least 10 minutes.
2. Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and brown sugar until fluffy. On low speed, add apple butter, and beat until well blended. Add egg, and continue beating until well blended. The mixture will look slightly curdled, but it will pull together when you add the dry ingredients.
4. Add the dry ingredients, beating until just combined. Drain currants, discarding cider. Mix in currants and oats until just combined. Using the largest holes on a box grater, shred 1 of the apples directly into the dough, rotating to avoid seeds and core. Stir well to combine.
5. Using a 1-ounce scoop, scoop out six cookies about 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheet. Core 2 to 3 apples, and, using a Japanese mandoline or a sharp knife, slice thinly. Place a thinly sliced apple ring on top of each cookie. (Repeat with the fourth apple if needed.) Sprinkle the top of each with a pinch of sugar, if desired. Bake in the heated oven until dark brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Apple Butter

Makes 2 cups

20 apples such as Empire or Golden Delicious (about 6 1/2 pounds), peeled, cored, and quartered
1 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons Calvados, a French apple brandy (regular brandy can be substituted)
1 large cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1 small pinch of ground cloves
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. Combine apples, apple cider, Calvados, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, mace, cloves, sugar, and lemon juice in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place mixture over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring often with a large wooden spoon to prevent scorching, until apples are broken down and saucy, about 1 hour. Mash any large pieces of apple with large wooden spoon to help them break down.
2. Reduce heat to medium. Using a rubber spatula, scrape out apple mixture from pan, and transfer to a small saucepan. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until apples are completely broken down and butter is very thick and dark, about 2 1/2 hours. Remove from the heat, and let stand to cool.

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer.

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