Apple Cake With Praline Glaze…

There are many reasons why Fall is my favorite time of year. First, I love the crisp Fall air with its milder temperatures. Second, I love the spectacular bursts of colors the trees and bushes provide.  And third, I love Fall cooking and baking. The aromas in the kitchen at this time of year are like no other, from the smell of the first pot roast braising in the oven to the sweet smell of baked apples providing that warm feeling of comfort and home. Fall is definitely the best season of the year.

So let’s start out the season by focusing on Fall baking! I chose this particular recipe because it embodies everything I love about Fall – apples, cinnamon, cream cheese, vanilla… need I go any further. The ingredients scream Fall and the smell of this cake when it’s baking in the oven beats any apples and cinnamon air freshener you could ever buy.

So let’s talk apple cake with praline glaze…

Lesson Learned 1 – Be organized when you make this recipe. This recipe has several components and the best way to make it is to be organized. First, that means reading the recipe thoroughly. Second, and I know this may sound silly, is to create a strategy for putting everything together. When I made this I did things in stages to stay on track and to keep the kitchen from being turned upside down.

The first thing I did was shred the carrots. (If you can find carrots already shredded at your local store you can certainly use them). I used my food processor for that. Make sure you used the shredding disc as shown below.

Cut the carrots and put them into the processor’s feeding tube.

With the processor on, push the carrots down the feeding tube using the round plastic tool that comes with the processor. You will wind up with shredded carrots as seen below.

I am going into such detail about this for a couple of reasons. First to show the correct disc to use to get shredded carrots. You don’t want to use the processor’s main blade for this. Second because this step takes up time and space. I found the best way to stay organized when making a recipe is to see if there are any components that require a machine other than a mixer and determine how using that machine may affect your work space.

Once I shredded the carrots I put them in a bowl, washed my food processor and put it away. If you’ve ever worked with a food processor you know it’s comprised of several pieces and all those pieces needed to be washed. Washing them, reassembling the food processor and putting it away freed up a lot of work space for me – space that I could use to comfortably assemble the other components of the cake.

After using the food processor I put together the cream cheese filling and set it aside, assembled the wet and dry ingredients, greased and floured the bundt cake pan, measured out the pecans (I purchased pecan pieces so I didn’t have to worry about chopping them) and lastly I cut up the apples. I saved the apples for last because I wanted as short of a period of time between when they were chopped and when they were incorporated into the batter. Apples, when cut, will oxidize meaning they will start to turn brown the longer they are exposed to the open air. By cutting them last I still had nice light green apple pieces to put into the batter. There are altogether seven major components of this cake and so the more organized you are the smoother the process of making the cake will go.

The Seven Major Components Of The Apple Cake

Lesson Learned 2 – Check each egg before putting it into the batter: There are four eggs in this recipe and each one should be checked separately by cracking it into a small dish before adding it to the batter. You don’t want to add them all at once just to find you have one bad egg and then have to throw out all the batter. It only takes a few seconds to ensure that all the eggs you’re using are good.

Lesson Learned 3 – For high altitude baking decrease the baking powder by 1/4 teaspoon. The baking soda amount can stay the same.

The major point to consider when making this recipe is being organized. Otherwise everything is relatively simple. I can assure you this cake is delicious. I gave some to a neighbor who said it was so delicious that she wanted the recipe. I’m sure you’ll want to print this recipe and keep it as part of your Fall lineup of baking…

Apple Cake With Praline Glaze...

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy To Medium
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INGREDIENTS:

CAKE

1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, room temperature

2 cups sugar, divided

4 eggs, divided

1 cup canola oil

2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

2 generous tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking soda

2 cups green apples, peeled and chopped (2 medium size granny smith apples)

1 cup shredded carrots (2 large carrots)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

PRALINE GLAZE

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup butter, cubed

2 Tbs. milk

1/2 cup confectioners sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour a 10 inch fluted bundt pan. Set aside.

In a small bowl beat the cream cheese and 1/4 cup of sugar until smooth. Beat in 1 egg. Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Whisk together until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl beat together the oil with the remaining sugar and eggs until well blended. Gradually beat the flour mixture into the oil mixture until blended. Fold in the apples, carrots, and pecans.

Put half of the better evenly around the bundt pan. Put the cream cheese mixture on top. Add the remaining batter on top of the cream cheese mixture.

Bake 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in the bundt pan before removing the cake from the pan.

To make the glaze – in a large saucepan bring the brown sugar, butter and milk to a boil. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and whisk in the confectioners sugar and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake. Sprinkle with pecans.

 

 

Sour Cream Apple Bites…

I had a few apples lying around and I wanted to use them. This recipe is a great way to use “older” apples.  The bites come out so moist and tender you’ll be hard pressed to eat just one. You make this recipe in a 9 x 13  pan and that is way too much for me and my husband so I brought them to work the next day. I couldn’t believe how many compliments I got on them although my husband maintains you can put cardboard in a break room where you work and people will devour it. Part of me knows that’s true, but when people go out of their way to say how delicious it was you know you have something special.

Yes, something special, that’s how I would categorize this. And a great way to use apples that are not all that fresh anymore but still very good. So let’s talk sour cream apple bites…

Lesson Learned 1 – This is a pretty straightforward crumble-type recipe: The crust you make for the  base is the same crumble you put on top. This recipe gives you an ample amount for a nice crust and a substantive crumble. Use half of the mixture as the crust and the other half as the topping. Make sure you use all of it, don’t waste a bit.

Lesson Learned 2 – The food processor is your friend on this one: Make sure you use the food processor to shred the apples. If you’ve never used a food processor it’s worth your while to spend a little time familiarizing yourself with one and learning how to use it. It can be a great time saver. There are a plethora of videos on YouTube that can show you all you need to know about a food processor. Here is a handy little video about how to shred food using a food processor:

Remember when you shred the apples for this recipe, all you need do is cut out the core and seeds. You don’t need to peel them. I used gala apples for this recipe and you can see the little red fleck in the  shredded apples in the pictures below. You won’t even notice the peel when eating the bites and the red from the apples gives a nice little pop of color to the sour cream filling.

What I like about this recipe is not only is it insanely delicious but it also is simple to make. I guarantee you that when you make these bites they will disappear quickly. Enjoy this one!

Sour Cream Apple Bites...

  • Servings: Approximately 30 Bites
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

Crust and Topping:

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup brown sugar, packed

2 cups quick cooking oats

1 cup flour

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. allspice

Filling:

1 cup sour cream

3/4 cup sugar

2 Tbs. flour

1 large egg

2 medium apples shredded

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the crust/topping first. Mix together butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add all of the remaining ingredients and mix well. Take half of the mixture and press it into the bottom of an ungreased 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes or until the crust is a light golden brown.

While the crust is baking shred the apples in a food processor by removing the core and seeds but leaving on the skin. Combine all of the filling mixture ingredients together except the shredded apples until well blended. Fold in the shredded apples.

Pour the filling mixture over the crust (the crust can be still hot). Crumble the remaining crust/topping mixture over the filling and pat down lightly.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the center is set. Cool completely before cutting into bites. Store refrigerated.

Sour Cream and Apple Mixture

Ready To Go Into The Oven

Out Of The Oven

Sour Cream Apple Bites

 

Apple Cinnamon Chip Blondies…

After being unsuccessful in locating cinnamon chips for the iced cinnamon chip cookies I usually make over the holidays, I wound up ordering a bunch of them online. Needless to say it is late March and because I ordered way too many of them I still have a couple of packages left. So my conundrum was what to do with the remaining cinnamon chips. And then I thought about this recipe.

I haven’t made blondies in a long time. As a matter of fact, I never really thought about what blondies actually are until just recently.  In my mind, they are the equivalent to a lighter color of brownies. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but I like to think of them that way.

So why make blondies now? Well, March weather here in Colorado can be turbulent  – not with rain but with snow. March and April are the snowiest months of the year here, so you can go from a feeling of Spring to a feeling of dead Winter in a heartbeat. And winter time is baking time in my mind. There’s nothing like the smell of something baking in the oven on a cold Winter’s day. It warms the heart. And the smell of apples and cinnamon baking, well that’s heaven! So the decision to make these on a snowy day was a no brainer.

So let’s talk apple cinnamon chip blondies…

Parchment Paper TipLesson Learned 1 – Make sure you use parchment paper and spray it with cooking spray before you put the batter into the pan: This batter is very dense and sticky. If you don’t line your baking pan with parchment paper and spray it with cooking spray you will never be able to remove the blondies from the pan in one piece. You only need to spray the paper LIGHTLY as there is a lot of butter in the recipe and you don’t want the blondies to turn out too greasy.

Parchment Paper Lined PanBAKING TIP:  Line the pan with the parchment paper at the very beginning before doing anything else. Once you tear off a large enough piece press the paper down in the pan and place some cans of anything on top of it to hold it down (as shown in the picture above). When it comes time to put the batter in the pan simply remove the cans and then spray the paper lightly with cooking spray. At that point, as you can see in the picture, the parchment paper will be much more cooperative when you’re putting the batter in the pan.

Lesson Learned 2 – The blondies are much easier to cut when they’re cool: Using the parchment paper as handles I lifted the blondies out of the pan after they had been on the cooling rack for 15 minutes. I left them to cool for a couple of hours and refrigerated them overnight. The next day they were much easier to cut. They smell so good you may be tempted to try to cut them sooner but it definitely is much easier once they have sufficiently cooled.

Lesson Learned 3 – You could also add some nuts to this recipe: If I were to add nuts, I would add chopped pecans, about 1/4 cup should do the trick. The next time I make these I’m going to try adding nuts.

What can I say other than these are very easy to make and super delicious (like eating an apple pie brownie). Try this and I know it will become one of your favorites!

APPLE CINNAMON CHIP BLONDIES…

  • Servings: 16-24
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

Apple Cinnamon Chip Blondies1/2 cup butter (1 stick) + 2 Tbs.

1 cup light brown sugar + 2 Tbs.

1 large egg, room temperature and lightly beaten

1 Tbs. vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1 medium apple peeled and cubed into 1/4 inch pieces

1/4 cup chopped pecans, optional

1/2 cup cinnamon chips

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8 inch square pan with parchment paper (see baking tip above) and set aside.

In a small skillet melt 2 Tbs. of butter and 2 Tbs. of brown sugar together. Add the apple pieces and cook until the pieces start to soften, approximately 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Melt the stick of butter in the microwave (approximately 30 seconds). In a large bowl whisk together the butter and remaining brown sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and whisk to combine. In a separate bowl sift together the flour and salt. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Do not over mix. Fold in the cinnamon chips and apples (and nuts if desired) until just combined.

Lightly spray the parchment paper with cooking spray. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the batter making sure it is evenly distributed throughout the pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes (mine took 40 minutes). The blondies are done when the edges start to pull away from the side of the pan. Let cool for at least 2 hours before slicing (preferably after cooling for 2 hours cool in the refrigerator overnight before slicing). Slice and enjoy!

Blondie Batter

Blondie Batter

Batter In Parchment Paper Lined Pan

Batter In Parchment Paper Lined Pan

Apple Cinnamon Chip Blondies

Apple Cinnamon Chip Blondies

Apple Cinnamon Chip Blondies

Apple Cream Cheese Cake…

I know it’s not apple season but I had the desire to bake something with apples in it and decided to make this cake. It has a combination of some warm spices, namely nutmeg and allspice, and a heavenly cream cheese filling that compliments the flavor of the cake. And if that isn’t enough for you, once the cake is cooled you drizzle on a thick and luscious praline frosting. That’s more than enough to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth!

Cake ingredients...

Cake ingredients…

Lesson Learned 1 – Make sure the eggs are room temperature: This recipe produces a very thick batter that is mixed by hand. You can use a mixer for the cream cheese filling but I highly recommend mixing the batter by hand. That way you are less likely to over mix and wind up with a tough cake. Room temperature eggs incorporate themselves more completely into a batter and you’ll want to ensure that when mixing by hand. Also for ease of mixing, the eggs should also be slightly beaten before putting them into the batter.

Lesson Learned 2 – After you chop the apples sprinkle a little lemon juice on them to avoid browning: I am amazed how many recipes I come across that require chopped apples and don’t address what can happen to an apple once it’s peeled and cut. When an apple is cut open, an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase is released from the cells of the apple and reacts with the oxygen in the air causing the fruit to brown. Lemon juice helps keep apples from browning because it’s full of ascorbic acid and it has a low pH level. Ascorbic acid works because oxygen will react with it before it will react with the polyphenol oxidase. I know this may sound like chemistry class but it helps to explain why you need to used a little lemon juice to keep the chopped apples looking fresh until you add them into the batter. If you chop the apples right before adding them to the batter you may not need lemon juice, but I would err on the side of caution.

I used two gala apples in this recipe. That produced 3 cups of chopped apples. It takes some time to peel, core and chop the apples. Even if you plan on adding them immediately, the first pieces you chopped may still start to turn brown. The browning process can happen rather quickly. Better to sprinkle a little lemon juice over the apples so you don’t have to worry. Besides lemon juice, lime juice or cranberry juice can also generally be used to stop browning. But be aware of the flavors you might be adding into your cake. For this recipe lemon juice is the best flavor choice.

Also be aware that sprinkling lemon juice on apples will not eliminate the browning process completely. Once the lemon juice has evaporated, the apples will begin to brown as the oxygen will then begin to work on the enzymes the apple produces once it is cut. Adding a little lemon juice is designed to be a short term but very effective fix. (I used about half the juice from half a small lemon on the chopped apples).

cakecollage

Lesson Learned 3 – Do not make the frosting until the cake is completely cooled: I have to admit this is very delicious frosting. It’s really more of a thick glaze. The downside is the frosting sets very quickly. So, don’t make the frosting until you are ready to immediately drizzle it over the cooled cake. That way the frosting won’t set and too quickly you’ll get the results you see in the picture below.

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Lesson Learned 4 – For more flavor, you can toast the pecans before adding them to the batter and on top of the cake: Just place them in a non stick pan on the stove and heat them. Remember, nuts can burn quickly so as soon as you smell them take them off of the heat.

My husband almost single handedly ate this entire cake. He loved this one. Try it and let me know what you think…

Apple Cream Cheese Cake…

  • Servings: 12=14
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:IMG_5284

Cream Cheese Filling

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

2 Tbs. flour

1 tsp. vanilla

Cake

1 cup finely chopped pecans, plus some for garnish

3 cups flour, plus 2-3 Tbs. to dust the pan

1 cup sugar

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. allspice

3 large eggs, room temperature and slightly beaten

3/4 cup canola oil

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tsp. vanilla

3 cups finely chopped apples (gala or granny smith)

1 tsp shortening to grease the pan

1/2 lemon squeezed for its juice to put on the chopped apple pieces

Praline Frosting

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter

3 Tbs. milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 12 cup bundt pan. Set aside. Peel core and chop the apples into small pieces. Squeeze the lemon juice over the apples as you put them in a bowl. Stir to redistribute the lemon juice every time you add more chopped apples to the bowl. Set aside.

Using a non stick pan, heat the pecans on the stove until they become fragrant. Take off the heat and set aside.

To make the filling: Beat together the cream cheese, butter and sugar until well combined. Add the egg, flour and vanilla and beat until just combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, nutmeg and allspice. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, oil, applesauce and vanilla. Stir just until combined (the batter will be thick). Fold in the pecans and apples.

Spoon half the batter into the prepared bundt pan, evenly distributing the batter around the pan. Top with the cream cheese filling, leaving an inch border around the edge of the pan. Top with the remaining batter.

Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, invert the cake onto the wire rack and allow to cool completely.

To make the frosting: Combine the brown sugar, butter and milk in a saucepan. Over medium heat bring the mixture to a boil whisking continuously. Boil for 1 minute (keep whisking). Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Whisk the powdered sugar in a little at a time until the frosting is smooth. Immediately drizzle over cooled cake. Garnish with pecans.

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Homemade Applesauce – Nothing Like It…

I’m including this under Tips ‘N Tricks and not under recipes because I can’t believe I never made homemade applesauce before and I also can’t believe how easy it is to make. There is absolutely no comparison to store bought applesauce. Homemade is far superior, hands down. So if you’ve never tried making applesauce, now’s the time to change that.

This is a great way to use a lot of apples. I used between 4 and 5 pounds of apples and it filled one large mason jar with applesauce. So if you get a windfall of apples, like I did this year, and you’re not sure what to do with them – make applesauce. You won’t regret it.

The procedure is simple. Just peel and slice up apples – (I did 4 -5 pounds but you can do more). Add 1/2 cup apple juice or cider, the juice of a small lemon, 1/2 cup brown sugar, cinnamon to taste and just a pinch of nutmeg. There are a whole bunch of recipes out there so I recommend doing a little research – and there is no limit to the spices you can add – you can really add any spices you want like allspice, or maple syrup or even a little butter. Just be careful with some of the more robust spices like allspice and nutmeg – they can take over the flavor. Be careful not to add too much cider or juice because it will not cook down well. Err on the side of less is more.

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Pour it all into a pot and cook it uncovered for about 25 minutes until everything is reduced down.  The mixture should look somewhat like the picture below.

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After that, just dump the mixture into a food processor and process. I like my apple sauce a little chunky so I pulsed the mixture. You can also just let it go to get a smooth consistency. The choice is up to you.

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I was bowled over by how easy this was. I can tell you this, if I have the choice, I will never buy store bought applesauce again!

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