Now that we’re midway through October Halloween is popping up all over the place. And as much as I prefer summer to autumn, I’ve always had a soft spot for Halloween. Maybe it’s because I love an excuse to dress up in fun costumes (and now, cooing over adorable children in costumes). Maybe it’s because my birthday is the next day, so it’s always been an excuse to eat candy and cake for 48 hours. Maybe it’s because Christmas movies start shortly afterwards. I really can’t pinpoint what it is, but Halloween makes me happy.
As a kid, and especially a teenager, a key part of Halloween was going to Fright Fest at Six Flags. My friends and I would go to the park in costume and giggle-scream as the goblins came up to startle us. We’d wait in line for the haunted hayride, and inevitably jump when the masked chainsaw operator lurked out of the woods. And we’d get giant caramel apples and call it a meal.
This cake is reminiscent of those over-sized treats, only without the stick and mess. The apple cake itself is pretty simple (some of you may recognize it from the Apple Cupcakes), but it’s jazzed up with the accoutrements. The vanilla butter cream is exactly what a butter cream should be. The star of this cake, though, is the filling. The whipped caramel is amazing. There are no other words. It has a deep, rich flavor and unlike a lot of caramel frostings it isn’t pared down with extra butter or sugar. Instead, air is literally whipped into a basic caramel giving it a luscious lightness without distracting from the taste. If you take nothing else away from this post, make this filling.
Without further ado, here is the caramel apple cake. Scary, chainsaw wielding goblins optional.
Caramel Apple Cake
- 2.5 c GF flour with xanthan gum
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ cup butter
- 2 c white sugar
- 2 egg
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 4 cups peeled, shredded apples (easily done in the food processor)
- Whipped Caramel Filling (see below)
- Vanilla Buttercream (see below)
- Caramel Drizzle
- Preheat oven to 350. Prepare two 8” round pans by greasing and lining with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add in egg and vanilla, and beat until fully combined.
- With the mixer on low, stir in the apples. Then, slowly add the flour mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.
- Divide the batter among pans. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and cakes begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
- Let cool about ten minutes in the pan, then flip onto a rack to cool completely before frosting.
- Spread whipped caramel on top of the first layer of the cake. Place in fridge for about fifteen minutes to set before continuing.
- Add second layer of cake on top and frost with vanilla buttercream. Drizzle with reserved caramel sauce.
- Store in fridge; bring up to room temperature before serving.
Whipped Caramel Filling
- 1 cup white sugar
- ¼ cup water
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 3 ½ tbsp. butter
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar and water over medium-low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves completely. Increase heat to about medium and bring to a boil without stirring. Allow mixture to boil until it turns a deep amber color (for me this took about 8 minutes). Watch it carefully; it will go from clear to burnt quickly!
- Remove the syrup from the heat and SLOWLY stir in the cream. Be careful, as the mixture will bubble and steam violently. Add butter, salt, and vanilla, and stir until everything has melted and is smoothly blended together. Note: if the cream creates a block of sugar, simply return the pan to low heat, and stir until everything melts together.
- Once the caramel is made, allow it to cool to room temperature. Reserve a bit of the caramel to drizzle on top of the cake. Then, using the whisk attachment, whip the caramel until it is light in color and has the consistency of a butter cream frosting.
Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting
- 1 ½ cups butter, softened
- 4 – 5 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until it is light and fluffy.
- Slowly add in 4 cups of the powdered sugar, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.
- Add the vanilla and cream, and beat 2-3 minutes on high. If the frosting is too thin add more sugar; if it is too thick add more cream. Continue adjusting until you reach your desired consistency.