For the applesauce cookies:
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 sticks (16 tablespoons, 1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups plain applesauce
For the caramel frosting:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
For the cookies:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
In a medium bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Add the applesauce and beat until combined. Mixture will look slightly grainy. On medium-low speed, slowly add the flour mixture until incorporated.
Drop 1-1/2 tablespoonfuls of batter onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are set and slightly browned. Let cookies cool on pans for 5 minutes then remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the frosting:
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, combine the butter, cream, and brown sugar. Heat until mixture just begins to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool completely then whisk in the confections' sugar. Dip the cookies into the frosting. Let set at room temperature until caramel frosting is no longer sticky.
Store cookies in one layer in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.