Apple spice cake (another birthday!)

This is the birthday that didn’t want to happen. Obstacle after obstacle got in the way. This cake barely happened. My sweet sister is a amazing and was so understanding when we had to keep postponing birthday plans.

Lets back up. For my sister’s birthday last year I was set on making her a cake and dinner. I also had a six week old baby. I was sleep deprived and neurotic. If you had asked me which way was up I am uncertain if I could have told you. For some reason I latched on to the idea of making an orange blossom cake with a cranberry filling. She didn’t care for it, although at the time you would have never known. It was a less than spectacular attempt at a birthday cake. The cake itself was odd and barely tasted of orange but was a bit soggy. The filling was too runny and the frosting left something to be desired. I have no idea what I made her for dinner. She was a saint and was appreciative just the same.

Apple spice cake

This year I was determined to make her a cake she WANTED, not one I wanted to make. After much deliberation she picked an apple spice cake recipe I found a few months back. I got the cake made in time but the night before we were supposed to have everyone over for dinner Little got sick. He has never been sick. So plans for Friday (her actual birthday!) were cancelled. Thankfully I managed to get the cake together for a family get together on Saturday and it was a huge hit! Then we were supposed to make the cancelled dinner on Sunday but  I got sick, followed not but twelve hours later by Nathan. Seriously? So plans were postponed again. We finally got to go on her birthday shopping trip on Saturday (a week late) and I made the dish she picked out for her birthday dinner last night (a week and a half late). She is a saint.

But at least there was cake on the right weekend. Even if it was a day late, in light of how late the rest of the birthday plans went, the cake was almost early to the party. And was it ever a delicious. Moist, surprisingly rich, a bit spicy. Perfect.

Apple spice cake

And the best part? When she told me she liked her cake this year she wasn’t being polite.

Apple Spice Cake (make one 2-3 layer 8 or 9 inch cake)
adapted from Epicurious

3 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons bourbon, apple brandy, or rum (optional)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 medium Fuji or Gala apples (13 to 14 ounces total), peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans (about 6 ounces)

Apple spice cake

Preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour two or three 9-inch-diameter cake pans. Line bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Whisk first 7 ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat 1 cup butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add both sugars and beat until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla, then bourbon, if desired (mixture may look curdled). Add flour mixture to egg mixture in 3 additions alternately with applesauce in 2 additions, beating until blended after each addition. Stir in apples and pecans. Divide batter between cake pans; smooth tops.Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of each comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Transfer cakes to racks and cool in pans 15 minutes. Cut around pan sides to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto racks; peel off parchment paper. Place another rack atop 1 cake and invert again so that cake is rounded side up. Repeat with second cake. Cool completely. Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap each cake in plastic and store at room temperature.Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
1 cup butter, room temp
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-4 tbs milk
7 cups +/- Powdered Sugar

In a medium bowl, add cream cheese and butter, whip till light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla. Slowly add powdered sugar while mixing.  If too thick add milk one tablespoon at a time.  You are trying to achieve a medium stiff consistency. Whip for several minutes.

Assemble the cake

Place a large dollop of frosting on your plate or cake stand. Place one layer of the cake bottom side up on the frosting. Cover with about 1 cup of frosting. Place a second layer of cake on top of the frosting bottom side up. If you have a third layer simply cover the second layer with frosting and top with the last layer bottom side up. Frost cake as you wish.

Apple spice cake

A note on cake decorating- I took a fancy class recently to learn how to decorate cakes. It was a blast. I highly recommend that you take such a class if you can. However, for this cake I followed a tutorial from Sweetapolita (I have a huge blog crush on her). Her cake is MUCH prettier than mine but you can see how incredibly easy it is to decorate a cake like this.

Brownie cookies with salted caramel frosting

Brace yourself.

For so many reasons.

First. These cookies. They are shut-up-shove-them-in-your-face good.

Brownie cookies with salted caramel frosting

Second. This frosting. I have plans for it. So.Many.Plans.

I feel like I say this a lot but these cookies really are a breeze. Other than chopping some chocolate there really is nothing to them. They are incredibility delicious all on their own too. I would happily shovel them down with a tall glass of cold milk.

Brownie cookies with salted caramel frosting

The frosting on the other hand was a bit more work. Making your own caramel is a cinch. I followed this great step by step tutorial from Bakers Royale. My caramel ended up being fairly hard when it cooled so I rewarmed it and thinned it with some more cream. Once it was cool (for the second time) I was able to use it in the frosting.

Brownie cookies with salted caramel frosting

So yes, all in all there are three separate recipes here. They are time consuming but I believe the end result is worth it. I managed to make the cookies and caramel during Little’s morning naptime. The frosting was whipped up during the afternoon nap.

I wish I could say these are every day cookies. Perhaps the cookie part alone might be, that is if you are ok with two dozen cookies requiring over $4 in chocolate alone.

Brownie Cookie with salted caramel frosting (makes 10 large or 20 small two-sandwich cookies)

Adapted from Bakers Royale

12 oz. chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon baking powder, sifted

1/2 cup butter
1 cup confectioner sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup caramel (Make sure caramel is cooled if making homemade)

Brownie cookies with salted caramel frosting

First make the cookies: Place 7oz. of the chocolate and the butter in a saucepan over low heat and gently stir until melted and smooth. Set aside.
Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat for 5 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add in flour, baking powder, melted chocolate mixture, remaining 5 oz. of chocolate and mix to combine. Set aside to to stand for 10 minutes. Spoon 2 tablespoonful for a large cookie and 1 tbs full for a small of the mixture, onto parchment lined bake sheet. Bake for about 8–10 minutes or until puffed and cracked. Allow to cool completely on trays.

Second make the frosting: Place butter in a bowl and beat until creamed. Add in confectioner sugar and salt and beat until light combined. Add in caramel and beat until combined.

Assemble: Spread a teaspoon and a half of frosting on underside of one brownie cookie and place a second brownie cookie bottom side down on top frosting.

Ps. I am trying to learn how to take better food pictures. I read through a wonderful tutorial this weekend and spent some time taking too many pictures of these cookies. As mentioned above I utilized naptimes to cook so when it came time to take pictures… Someone was up and intent on helping.

taking pictures with a Little help