Friday, March 2, 2012

Caramel Apple Cakes

I decided this go around I wanted to do a project, not just a regular cake.  I had saved this recipe a few years back from a Disney website but never made it. That site actually has some pretty cool crafty ideas for cupcakes as well as cakes.  This particular recipe was actually for one giant cake.  I made this with a mini ball pan instead and it made about 8 cakes.

The cake part is a spice applesauce cake.  The taste is wonderful and the aroma when baking was enough to make anybody hungry.  This would be a good cake, even if you did not want to got to all the trouble to make the "caramel apple look".  The cakes are covered with caramel and rolled in finely chopped walnuts. I used a specialty caramel-Celtic Sea Salt.  It was not packed with salt, but every once in a while a bite would yield a salty, crystal crunch.

I have listed the original cake recipe for the large caramel apple cake as well as instructions for the mini cakes. I did have a lot of fun making them!.  Also, I finished off my baking session by eating the cut out slice from the one mini cake above, which was the perfect ending to a day in kitchen!  We have visitors coming this evening, so the cakes will be served then.  I have included some helpful tips at the end of this recipe should you decide to make these.

Caramel Apple Cake
adapted from Family Fun Go website 

Special Equipment:
1 ball cake pan  or  2 oven safe 1 1/2 quart bowls (2 mini ball pans)
1 large craft stick (1 package of lollipop sticks)

2 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour the top edge as well as the cavities of your pans.

Sift together the cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, cloves, salt and flour.  Set aside.  In another bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, applesauce and vegetable oil until smooth.  Fold in the sifted ingredients.

For the mini ball pans, fill  cavities 2/3 full and bake for about 18-22 minutes.  For the big cake, bake for 60-70 minutes.  Cakes will be done when tester comes out clean.

Once the cake is done and removed from oven, let cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Then invert onto cooling rack and let cool completely.  Then trim the flat sides of cake or cakes so the two pieces match together, forming a ball.

3/4 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
60 caramel candies
2 tbs water

In a microwave safe bow, place unwrapped caramels and add the water.  Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval for about one and a half minutes. The mixture should drip off of a spoon.

Place about a tablespoon of caramel in the middle of  8 of the mini cakes or 1/4 cup in the middle of one half for the large cake. Place 1 sheet of wax paper on a flat surface for the large cake and 2 sheets for the minis. Place cake or cakes on top of one sheet.  Spoon the warm caramel over the top, letting it drip down the sides.  Continue until all is covered except for the part directly on top of the wax paper.  Wait 20 minutes for the caramel to cool on the large cake and then scatter nuts along the bottom half of the large cake.  If making minis, let cool for 10 minutes and scoop with a spatula.  Then roll the bottom half of the cakes in the nuts to coat.  Place mini cakes back on clean sheet of wax paper.

Cover the large craft stick with wax paper and insert into top center of the cake.  For the mini's insert one lollipop stick into top center of each cake.

To serve, mini cakes, have guests remove stick and cut with a knife to eat.  The large cake, just remove stick and cut slices.  Each slice should be split again from the top or bottom half of the cake, unless you want to serve long half moon slices.

Do not use the center stick to move the cake, it will not hold.
Cooling time is crucial on the caramel, you want the nuts to stick but not to drip off with the caramel
Excess caramel will be on the wax paper.  To create less waste, scoop and re-heat to pour over cake or cakes again.
Since the bottom half of the cake is round, you may have to spoon the caramel to get that part all coated.
The best way to plate these and also help in moving them from one place to another is to take a jumbo muffin paper and cut about an inch off the top and place one cake on top.  Also you can just take a standard cupcake paper and fan it open.

                  **LAST YEAR::Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookies**