Apple Upside Down Cake with Salted Caramel

Apple Upside Down Cake with Salted Caramel.

Apple Upside Down Cake with Salted Caramel.

It’s official:  Winter is here.    Snow has fallen, plows have been out, fender benders happened, walks and driveways have been shoveled.  Black Friday took place, and we are barreling straight ahead to Christmas.  It’s time to make my list of cookies that I plan to bake, and get in the necessary ingredients.

There are quite a few apples remaining that I picked at the orchard, so let’s see what I can do to use them up during this last weekend of November.

I know that I will make applesauce and I may even make baked apples and eat them for breakfast. We like them with a little granola sprinkled on top,  or a dollop of yogurt, or both.

Baked apples filled with dried fruits.

Baked apples filled with dried fruits.

Feeling a little “out-of-sorts”, (probably because I have too many projects going right now), I decided to use some of my apples and make this upside down cake.   The recipe is an adaptation of one featured on the Food Network that used summer stone fruits, but with salted caramel in the picture I was certain that making it with apples would be just fine.  And it was.

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This recipe was a good choice as the white cake is light and mildly seasoned with vanilla and has a fine texture that I attribute to the buttermilk.  Apples with caramel and sea salt are the perfect topping, made that much better with a little ice cream on the side when you serve it.  It’s baked in a 9-inch square pan, so you will get 8 generous servings or several more if cut smaller.

It only gets better with a little ice cream on the side.

It only gets better with a little ice cream on the side.

The problem I had with this cake was getting it out of the pan intact.  The recipe suggests waiting 15 minutes after removing from the oven before turning it upside down onto a serving plate.  I did that, and still the cake broke on one corner, and stuck to the sides of the pan.  I patched it up as best I could using some of the sticky caramel for “glue”.   (note photo)   I realized I might have prevented this by running a knife around the edges of the cake before attempting to turn it out of the pan, so I suggest you do that if you make this cake.

See that broken corner?

See that broken corner?

The bright side is that it tastes so good, even when broken, that I’m happy to share my “disaster” photo with you.  We all have an occasional disaster, and there’s no shame in that.

APPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE WITH SALTED CARAMEL

Yield:   Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients:

Beautiful crisp apples, waiting to become a cake!

Beautiful crisp apples, waiting to become a cake!

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt, divided
  • 2-3 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch wedges
  • 1  3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 375*F.  and coat a 9-inch-square cake pan with cooking spray.

2.  Combine 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1  1/2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan and stir until the mixture looks like wet sand.  Cook over medium-high heat, gently swirling the pan occasionally but not stirring, until light amber, about 5 minutes.   Remove from the heat and immediately pour into the prepared cake pan.  ( The caramel hardens quickly.)  Arrange the apple wedges over the caramel in 4 rows;  set the pan aside.

Lay rows of sliced apples on top of the caramel in the pan,

Lay rows of sliced apples on top of the caramel in the pan,

3.  Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and remaining 1 cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour, and mix until just incorporated.  Pour the batter over the apples and spread evenly.

4.  Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.  ( Mine took 45 minutes.)  Cover the cake loosely with foil it is browning too quickly.   Remove from the oven and let sit 15 minutes, then invert onto a platter and let cool completely.  Sprinkle with sea salt.

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SOURCE:   adapted from The Food Network Magazine

 

 

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Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies?   If a vote were taken for favorite cookie they would probably win by a landslide, and it seems as though every cook has their favorite recipe for making them.   Mine would have to be the traditional Toll-House cookie, so I don’t usually look at other recipes for chocolate chippers.   But you know how popular the addition of salt has become in the dessert world, so when I happened on this recipe for Salted Chocolate Chip cookies, I was curious what they would be like and had to try them.

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A sprinkle of salt on the cookies before baking is the finishing touch that brings out the chocolate flavor and tones down the sweetness, creating the ultimate sweet and salty snack.  We found these cookies to have a very nice taste, but they do flatten out quite a bit as they bake.  I normally like a thick, chunky cookie with lots of depth to bite into, and these were not that, but I did enjoy that hit of salt against the sweetness of the chocolate.  These cookies are crisp on the outside but chewy on the inside; a nice contrast in textures.  We both liked them enough for me to make them again, so I would recommend you try them especially if you would like to experience that sweet and salty combination.

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After baking the first sheet of cookies and seeing how they turned out, I put the remaining two sheets in the refrigerator to chill the dough and firm up the butter, before they hit the heat of the oven.  It’s important also be keep your oven at 375*F  throughout the baking time. For best results  bake only one sheet of cookies at a time, instead of two and rotating them, as the recipe suggests.

When using salt on your desserts, a sprinkle of one of the following will get the job done—just don’t use table salt.   Kosher salt, large crystals, dissolve quickly;   flaky sea salt,  light, crunchy texture, provides ideal finishing touch on cookies, etc.;  coarse sea salt,  grains are crunchy, but don’t dissolve as quickly, good with assertive flavors and textures.

SALTED CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES

YIELD:   makes about 30 cookies

INGREDIENTSIMG_3423

  • 1  1/2  cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup  ( 1 stick ) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup ( packed ) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • flaky sea salt

1.  Preheat oven to 375*F.  Prepare baking sheets with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper.

2.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.

3.  Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, sugar, and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Beat, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, until mixture is pale and fluffy,  4-5 minutes.  Reduce mixer speed to low; slowly add dry ingredients, mixing just to blend.  Using a spatula, fold in chocolate.

4.  Spoon rounded tablespoons full of cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 1″ apart.  Sprinkle cookies with sea salt.

5.  Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until just golden brown around the edges, 10 – 12 minutes.  Cookies will firm up as they cool.  Let cool slightly on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks;  let cool completely.   Store airtight at room temperature.

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SOURCE:   adapted from Bon Appetit,  January, 2013

Salted Butterscotch Blondies

I’m not much on Blondies.  Chocolate is always my first choice in desserts of any kind.  However I came across this recipe a short time ago, and just had to try it, mainly because of the addition of salt on top.  Salt and caramel, salt and butterscotch;  this combination a getting a lot of attention lately.  After making these squares, I can definitely see why.  To sum it up in one word:  HEAVENLY!

OK people,  I’ll try to be more specific.  They are chewy, buttery, melt in your mouth, and can’t-wait-for-another-one-good.  The addition of that little bit of salt on top is a suprise, yet seems so right paired with the sweetness of the butterscotch.  If, for dietary reasons you need to leave off the salt,  these squares will still be wonderful, so don’t let that stop you from making them.  Without further ado, here is the recipe.

Salted Butterscotch Blondies

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla flavoring
  • 1 teaspoon Butter flavoring
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 12 oz. bag butterscotch chips
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Grease well a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

Melt butter and pour into a large mixing bowl.  Stir in brown sugar, Kosher salt, baking powder vanilla and butter flavorings.  Mix until well combined.

Stir in flour and mix well, then the lightly beaten eggs.  Stir until thoroughly combined.  Lastly stir in the butterscotch chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly.  Sprinkle sea salt on top.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and edges are a little brown.  Do not overbake!  Cool completely before cutting into squares. 

Yield:  24 squares

        

Source:  Bake at 350, and King Arthur’s Baking Companion