Our first dessert for French Fridays with Dorie is Marie-Helene's Apple Cake. Inspired by a dish made by one of Dorie's Parisian friends, this was a very easy cake to make and a great dessert for the coolish fall evenings we are finally starting to experience. While the simplicity of this cake was lovely on its own, I decided to make a caramel sauce to lightly drizzle over the cake in hopes of mimicing the flavor of caramel apples that seem to be everywhere this time of year.
I like making desserts where fruit is the star because I feel that I have had a serving (sometimes two) of fruit for the day. I completely ignore any of the nutritional deficiencies and tell myself I am eating fiber rather than butter and sugar. The apples are definately the headliner of this cake. As recommended by Dorie, I used a variety of apples and each added their own distinct flavor and texture to the cake. The simple batter wrap2 each piece of apple in a fluffy cakey cloud.
Warm from the oven, I quickly overlooked difficulties slicing the cake upon tasting the warm apples and caramel. Rustic, yet elegant, the apples retained their flavor and textures. The vanilla scented cake is velvety and melts in your mouth. The light drizzle of caramel added a bit more sweetness and complimented the cake beautifully.
I expected the cake to set up overnight and ready to slice in beautiful thick wedges. Unfortunately, the middle of the cake had become a bit soggy and I still had trouble getting a clean slice but it was still delicious!
This sauce is from Melissa d'Arabian and is the best caramel sauce I have made. Yum! You can find the recipe for the cake in Dorie's book Around my French Table.
Cardamom-Vanilla Caramel Sauce
Ten Dollar Dinners, Melissa d'Arabian
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, gently crushed to release oils (I just used a pinch of ground cardamom)
In a medium-heavy saucepan, mix the water and sugar and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow the mixture to boil, without stirring. Cook's Note: Swirl the pan, if needed. Boil until the sugar mixture is pale golden brown, approximately 7 minutes. Watch closely; sugar burns quickly.
Remove the pan from the heat, and stirring vigorously add the butter and cream. The mixture will bubble. Add the cardamom seeds and stir to incorporate. Return the pan to the heat and bring the mixture to a boil and then remove from the heat and allow to cool a few minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract and strain the sauce.