APPLE DIE, the first book in the Apple Orchard Cozy Mystery series by Chelsea Thomas (a husband and wife author duo!), is a fun, lighthearted cozy mystery that caught my attention with the very first paragraph. The protagonist, Chelsea, has suffered heartbreak when she’s left at the altar in the middle of her dream wedding and then cheated out of her interior designer company by her former fiancé. As the story progresses, Chelsea, with the help of her aunt, Miss May, finds strength and learns to overcome her heartbreak. Miss May and her best friend, Teenie, are quirky supporting characters to the protagonist, and lighten the scenes that they are in whether it’s socializing, bumping around in Miss May’s VW van, or finding a killer.
After moving back to Miss May’s apple orchard Chelsea helps revitalize their special events’ venue. She’s pulled into investigating the suspicious death of her cousin’s fiancé after finding his body in the orchard during the rehearsal dinner. She uncovers clues that a crime occurred along with several suspects despite the police ruling the death as an unfortunate accident. The clues are well sprinkled throughout the story and I’ll admit I did guess who the culprit is but didn’t know why. There were good twists that kept me turning pages and I appreciated that the authors wrote a complete mystery in a fairly short book without cutting corners. APPLE DIE is a great start to an entertaining cozy mystery series and I’m happy that there are several more books for me to catch up on!
Miss May is known for her amazing Appie Oater cookies that she serves to family, friends, and orchard visitors. While there aren’t any recipes at the back of the book, Ms. Thomas has provided the yummy cookie recipe for me to share on the blog. Buttery, caramelized apples are mixed into an oat cookie dough that is reminiscent of apple pie. Even though I accidentally added too many oats to the dough, the results were still fantastic. I had planned on remaking the cookies before this blog post but much to my husband’s chagrin, I ran out of time. Despite that, this was one recipe that he didn’t want me to share with other taste testers. Fresh out of the oven and served with a big glass of milk or a cup of tea, Apple Oaters are yummy enough for a snack or dessert and tempting enough to eat for breakfast.
Dead bodies make heartbreak even harder.
After Chelsea is left at the altar, all she wants is tissues and a box of cookies.
A BIG box.
But it’s hard to wallow in self-pity when there’s a dead body on your family orchard.
If Chelsea’s going to help solve the mystery, she’ll need her confidence back.
Maybe Miss May can help. She knows everyone in town. And she’s still remembers a thing or two from her life as a big-city lawyer.
But what if the killer is someone the girls have known for life?
Will Chelsea and Miss May solve the mystery before the murderer strikes again? Or will the body count rise and ruin cookies for everyone?
A special thanks to Chelsea Thomas for providing one winner with an e-book copy of APPLE DIE. Contest ends Sunday, November 24, 2019 at 11:59 pm PST . Please use the Rafflecopter box located below to enter. The winner will be announced on this page and on Cinnamon & Sugar’s Facebook page, as well as notified by email (so check your spam folder!)
Appie Oaters are the famous, giant “apple pie cookies” that Miss May bakes at the Thomas Family Fruit & Fir Farm. Appie Oaters are one of Miss May’s many specialties, and she often uses these enormous, delicious cookies to ply information from suspects in her cases. Chelsea Thomas loves these sweet treats, and they’re an irresistible treat for the cooler fall months and throughout the holiday season.
In our apple orchard books, Appie Oaters are a family recipe, presumably passed down for generations and perfected by Miss May. But in real life, Matt invented the cookies on the spot in Book 1. He had never tasted or seen anything like them, but real-life Chelsea decided she would reverse engineer them from Matt’s delectable description.
We first made these cookies for our Friendsgiving celebration in 2018. Our unsuspecting guests were the beta testers of the Appie Oaters recipe and they didn’t even know it.
Luckily, the cookies were a huge hit and we’ll definitely be making them for many holidays to come. Now, you can too. We wanted Appie Oaters to be warm and homey, so there are a few extra steps in making them, but they’re well worth the time and effort. Indulgent yet not overly rich, these cookies are a perfect balance of sweet and spicy and you won’t be able to just eat one!
First thing’s first, the key to this recipe is that you HAVE to caramelize the apples. This step requires an extra dish and a little more time, but it’s essential to the gooey texture and depth of flavor. The second crucial part of Appie Oaters is the applesauce. It adds a fruitiness and lightness to the cookies that’s exceptionally delicious. If you really want to go the extra mile, you can use homemade applesauce, but
store-bought works just fine. Make sure to get unsweetened so you can control the level of sweetness.
The last thing to note is that this recipe calls for coconut oil (personal preference) but you can easily substitute butter at a 1:1 ratio. Coconut oil has a nutty, warm profile that makes these cookies extra cozy, but if you only have butter on hand it works fine too.
Alright, without further ado, here is the recipe for APPIE OATERS, a perfect dessert for any holiday (or just a chilly weekend night when your sweet tooth is acting up).
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- A pinch or two of salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 apples, diced (you can use any variety - I prefer Fuji or Pink lady but you can also mix types or add in some Granny Smith for a tarter flavor)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Juice of half lemon
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon + a pinch of cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup quick cook oats
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). (You can also make this dough a few hours or even a day or so in advance - they are better when the dough sits for a while).
Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat, careful not to overheat.
Mix the diced apple in a medium bowl with the maple syrup, pinch of cinnamon, and lemon juice. Set aside.
Slowly whisk the brown sugar into the melted coconut oil. Continually stir for 3-5 minutes, letting the sugar melt into the oil.
Add the diced apple mixture to the sugar and oil. Reduce heat to low and continue to caramelize while combining the rest of the ingredients (about 10 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently).
Make applesauce mixture by combining applesauce with 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Set aside.
Turn off the heat on the skillet, and pour the coconut oil apple mixture into a bowl. Set in the fridge or freezer and let the mixture cool until the oil has slightly firmed.
Combine the flour, salt and baking soda.
Stir in the applesauce mixture.
Once coconut oil has hardened slightly, add it to the flour/applesauce mixture and stir until it has formed a moist dough.
Slowly add in the oats until the consistency of the dough thickens and is no longer runny. The amount of oats will vary based on the wetness of the other ingredients, so just eyeball this until the dough seems firm enough to roll into large balls.
Form dough into balls. They should be a little larger than a generous-sized meatball, and there should be enough for about 10 cookies.
Place the balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. You may need 2 cookie sheets to ensure that you have enough space between the cookies (at least an inch).
Press the cookies down using a fork or your hand. They shouldn’t be completely flat.
Cook 10-12 minutes in the preheated oven.
Once the cookies are done, you can sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar, top with a drizzle of maple syrup, honey or caramel or a dollop of whipped cream, frost them with cream cheese icing, or just eat them plain! They’re delicious any which way.
Makes about 10 large cookies.
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I was provided an advance copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.