after preparing two pumpkin desserts to bring to my parent’s house on thanksgiving, my mom suggested i come up with, yet, another to feed the masses. this was going to be a bit of a challenge as the stores were closed around us already for the holiday. i had apples and pears on hand and decided on an apple pecan cake (with pears). this will also be sure to be a safe dessert as not everyone loves pumpkin and/or pumpkin pie.
i had some homemade dulce de leche on hand and used this to drizzle over the moist cake. if you have a favorite caramel recipe, this will work just fine. i will be providing a caramel sauce recipe that is quite simple and very tasty. don’t forget some freshly whipped cream. this cake is so moist and the addition of the caramel and whipped cream makes this dessert absolutely divine. the reviews from the family indicated so as well… in fact, this dessert superceded my other two. the leftovers are even better as the flavors were able to meld longer.
1 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
pinch of cloves
3/4 cup pecans
4-5 macintosh apples and/or red pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
8 tbs butter (1 stick)
1 c sugar
1 egg, room temperature
freshly whipped cream
4 tbs butter
1 c brown sugar, packed
½ c half-and-half
pinch of salt
1 tbs vanilla
preheat the oven to 350 degrees. sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a bowl and set aside. place the pecans in a food processor and pulse until finely ground, but leaving some small chunks for texture. set aside. place the apples and pears in the food processor and pulse until most all the large chunks have somewhat liguified but still leaving some walnut sized chunks. don’t worry to much about the consistency as it will may look like a chunky apple sauce. this should be about 2 1/2 cups. set aside.
place the butter and sugar in a mixer with a paddle attachment. beat until the butter and sugar become fluffy. add the egg and mix until incorporated. slowly add the dry ingredients, and once blended, add the apple/pear mixture and pecans.
pour the batter in a prepared 9 inch round cake pan and place in the pre-heated oven. bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. remove from the oven. the cake should spring back when pressed. it is a very moist cake so do not be alarmed if the center sinks slightly. let it sit and cool. the cake can be tightly wrapped and refrigerated for several days.
mix butter, brown sugar, half & half, and salt in a saucepan over medium low heat. as the mixture is heating, whisk gently for 5-7 minutes as it thickens. add vanilla and heat another minute or so to thicken it further. turn off heat and place in a heat proof jar. refrigerate until cold. can be reheated in the microwave. caramel will keep for a couple weeks in a sealed jar in the refrigerator.
when ready to serve, slice the cake and serve on individual plates. heat the caramel sauce until just warm and spoon some sauce over each slice. place a dollop of freshly whipped cream on the cake (or place a dollop on the dessert plate next to the cake).