MAKES: About 3 dozen

TIME: About 1 hour

Dried apples make a nice updated version of this American classic, but whole grain fans won’t want to stop there. Anything rolled is up for grabs (they’re all made like rolled oats); quinoa is especially good. And just about any dried fruit can be used instead of apples; raisins (naturally), dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, dates, mango or papaya bits, chopped apricots or prunes, and shredded coconut are all delicious. If you like your cookies fully loaded, this recipe can handle up to another 1/2 cup maybe even a little more of chopped nuts, chocolate, or both. And whether you have dietary restrictions or not, the vegan variation is one terrific cookie.

Other rolled grains you can use: quinoa, whole wheat, spelt, triticale, or barley.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

11/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups rolled oats (not instant)

11/2 cups (about 5 ounces) chopped dried apples

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Preheat the oven to 375В°F. Use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugars together; add the eggs one at a time and beat until well blended.

Combine the flour, oats, apples, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Alternating with the milk, add the dry ingredients to the batter by hand, a little a time, stirring to blend. Stir in the vanilla.

Put tablespoon-size mounds of dough about 3 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool for about 2 minutes on the sheets before using a spatula to transfer the cookies to a rack to finish cooling. Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature for no more than a day or two.

Variations

Vegan Oatmeal-Apple Cookies. Substitute 1/2 cup neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, for the butter, 1/4 cup applesauce for the eggs, and any nondairy milk for the cows milk.

Oatmeal Carrot (or Parsnip) Cookies. These are especially great with rolled quinoa: Substitute peeled and grated carrots (or parsnips) for the raisins. Add a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and/or cloves if you like.

Peanut Oatmeal Cookies. Peanut butter (or any nut butter) replaces some of the butter for a rich flavor: Substitute 1/4 cup peanut butter for half of the butter.

Whole Grain Apple Spice Cookies. Straight-out cooked whole grain (like bulgur, barley, wheat or rye berries, buckwheat, or even short-grain brown rice) replaces rolled oats with tender but chewy results: Substitute cooked whole grain (see Cooking Grains, the Easy Way) for the rolled oats and fluff it with a fork to separate the kernels before combining with the other ingredients. Omit the milk. In Step 2, increase the cinnamon to a teaspoon and add 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/4 teaspoon each ground allspice and nutmeg. Proceed with the recipe, combining the dry ingredients with the egg mixture in Step 3 all at once, without adding any milk.