The abundance of spices in these cookies gives them a longer shelf life, making them a good cookie-jar staple.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat nonstick 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.
Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
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.
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.
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.
Holiday Cookies 2006