Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gingerbread Caramel Apple Cake

There are some days where a recipe just kind of materializes out of thin air. Today was one of those days. My physicist and I were sitting in Panera, and I was debating between buying a pumpkin bagel, or baking something myself when we got home. I wanted something fall-ish (to go along with the changing weather) and something with caramelized apples, and I came up with this lovely little cake. I'm staying with the physicist, though, which means I am separated from my standing mixer (and all of my baking supplies), so this gingerbread cake comes out of a nice, convenient box. 

1box Gingerbread Cake Mix
3 or 4 Medium Apples (Peeled and Diced)
3/4c Dark Brown Sugar
2tbsp Butter (Cubed)
1.5tbsp Cinnamon
1/2c Walnuts, Chopped 
1tbsp Powdered Sugar
1pkg Cream Cheese Icing, Room Temperature*

*Note: Stir your icing for about two or three minutes with a butter knife before you spread it onto the cake. It will be much easier to handle. 

OVEN: 350F
BAKE: 30min

1. Bake the gingerbread cake according to the directions on the box in a 9x12 cake pan. Cool completely on a cooling rack. Have the cake out of the oven and cooling before you start the apples. 

2. Take your peeled and diced apples and put them into a medium saucepan along with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Turn the heat on medium and cook for about eight minutes, stirring often. 

3. Add in the walnuts and turn the heat down to low and cook another five minutes, continuing to stir. The mixture should be boiling just slightly. 

4. Add in the powdered sugar and stir in until combined. Put a lid over the apples and cook for another 15-20 minutes, stirring about every five minutes. The heat should be on low, but be careful not to let them sit too long or they'll burn. The last bit of this cooking time is essentially allowing the sugar to caramelize and get nice and thick and sticky. 

5. Once the apples are done, remove them from the heat and stir for about a minute. The sauce should begin to thicken and be the consistency of caramel. To test this, press your spoon flat on the mixture and slowly pull it up, the sugar should stick to it in long, connected ribbons. Let it cool for about ten minutes. 

I know this sounds kind of complicated, but if you're unsure, taste a small portion of the apples. They should be soft and the caramel should not be too liquidity. 

6. Cut your cake into two equal rectangles and place one half on a plate. Spread on the cream cheese icing liberally and then spread on the apple mixture. 

7. Place on your second layer and repeat. 

This cake looks and tastes delicious and really is not that time consuming! It just tastes like fall!

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