I’ve been prepping for Thanksgiving this week. I can’t believe we’re already a week away from the big day. We’ll be out of town for the holiday but I’ve still been busy picking out recipes to share with family, grocery shopping, and cleaning the house since I hate to leave the house a mess when we’re gone for a few days. That’s all been squeezed in between my older son’s school holiday events. Needless to say, the week has flown by, though I love this time of year.
Through all the hustle and bustle, I managed to find time to bake this caramel apple drip cake with candied walnuts. It’s very seasonal and a great change from the usual Thanksgiving pie. It’s quite rich, but so good. It’s frosted with a yummy cream cheese frosting that goes very well with the apples and caramel.
Since there are several steps to this cake (the cake, the caramel, the candied walnuts, the cream cheese frosting and then putting it all together), I decided to make the cake in two days. Once the cake itself is baked, it can be kept chilled in the refrigerator for up to three days as long as you remember to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, so I baked the cake on day one and then did the next few steps on day two. Of course, this cake can be done all in one day. It’s not that daunting of a task but I figured I’d take my time since I had so many other things going on and it still came together beautifully.
This cake is baked in 8 inch cake pans but it comes out a bit tall once all put together and it could easily serve at least 10 people. I can guarantee nothing will go to waste. It is that good and it’s presentation is very pretty. Perfect for that holiday dessert table, especially if you’re looking for something a bit different from pie.
CARAMEL APPLE DRIP CAKE WITH CANDIED WALNUTS
Yield: 1 (8-inch) double-layer cake
Active Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
- For the cake:
- 1 cup raw walnuts
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 medium apples (such as Gala, Honeycrisp, or Pink Lady), peeled, coarsely grated
- 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- For the candied walnuts:
- 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 2 cups raw walnut halves
- For the caramel sauce:
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of kosher salt
- For assembly:
- Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe to follow)
- Make the cake:
- Position a rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Spread walnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden brown and aromatic, 5–8 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, lightly coat cake pans with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper; lightly coat parchment with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
- Pulse walnuts and 1/2 cup dry ingredients in a food processor until walnuts are chopped into a fine flour. Transfer chopped walnuts to bowl with remaining dry ingredients. Mix apples and buttermilk in another medium bowl.
- Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until pale and thick, about 4 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to medium-low and gradually stream in oil. Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with apple mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients; beat until smooth. Divide batter between prepared pans; smooth top.
- Bake cakes, rotating pans halfway through, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 40–45 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack and let cakes cool 10 minutes. Run a knife around sides of cakes and invert onto wire rack; remove parchment. Let cool completely.
- Make the candied walnuts:
- Spread granulated sugar in a thin layer in the center of a large dry skillet. Cook over medium heat, mostly undisturbed (it’s okay to swirl pan gently to get sugar to melt evenly), until sugar is melted, about 10 minutes. Quickly stir in walnuts and cook, stirring, until coated and melted sugar is chestnut brown, about 1 minute more. Scrape onto a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and spread out to cool, separating walnut halves into individual pieces. Transfer half of nuts to a food processor and coarsely chop.
- Make the caramel sauce:
- Bring granulated sugar, corn syrup, and 2 Tbsp. water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Continue to cook, without stirring, until medium amber in color, about 6 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat or warm in microwave 45 seconds.
- Remove saucepan with sugar from heat and carefully whisk in cream, stirring from the center outward, until well combined. Stir in butter. Add vanilla and salt and stir to combine. Transfer caramel to a heatproof container and let cool until thickened.
- Assemble cake:
- Spread 1 Tbsp. frosting in the center of a platter. Place 1 cake, domed side down, on platter. Spread 1 1/4 cups frosting evenly over top. Top with 1 cup chopped candied walnuts, reserving whole candied walnuts. Place remaining cake, domed side down, on top. Spread top and sides with 2 cups frosting. Chill 30 minutes to let frosting set.
- Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Chill at least 30 minutes or up to overnight to let frosting set.
- Place a spoonful of caramel sauce on top of cake near one edge. Using the bottom of the spoon, spread it out, then very gently press a little sauce over the edge. Move spoon around perimeter of cake slightly and repeat to create additional drips, rotating cake as you work and spreading excess sauce across top of cake. When entire cake is covered in drips, add remaining sauce to fully cover top.
- Chill at least 30 minutes to let glaze set. Decorate top and sides of cake with remaining whole walnuts and serve.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Yield: 4 1/2 cups
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
- 2 (8-ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 1/3 cups powdered sugar
- Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla bean paste and salt. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually beat in powdered sugar. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Recipe from Epicurious.