On this beautiful fall day with weather that couldn’t be more perfect, two of my favorite people were our guests for lunch. Ginny and Jack, Pete’s lovely parents, joined us for a meal full of some of my favorites of the season. Sweet potatoes got curried and blended into soup, wild rice and sharp cheddar made their way onto a honey whole wheat-crusted pizza, and apples & cinnamon were the stars of the dessert, apple walnut cake with cinnamon whipped cream and caramel drizzle.
The cake and whipped cream are my takes on recipes in gifted chef Chloe Coscarelli’s vegan cookbook, Chloe’s Kitchen, and the caramel drizzle is from her website. If a vegan version isn’t a must, you could make a more traditional caramel sauce using butter or do what I did and pick up a jar of Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce, which I think is as good or better than homemade and doesn’t have any of the scary or unpronounceable ingredients that store-bought stuff often does.
The cake, whipped cream and caramel drizzle can all be made a day or two before—just warm the caramel a bit before serving so it’s drizzleable. The inclusion of almond meal (also called almond flour) and some whole wheat pastry flour give this dessert heart-healthy protein and the benefits of whole grain, and with the addition of super-food status walnuts, not even an ounce of guilt should be felt over this tantalizing treat! Enjoy!
Apple Walnut Cake with Cinnamon Whipped Cream and Caramel Drizzle
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup organic sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup grapeseed or canola oil
½ cup pressed apple cider
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
½ cup toasted walnuts, chopped
3 medium Gala, Fuji, Honey Crisp (or other sweet apples), peeled and finely chopped
1 ½ tablespoons turbinado or other coarse grain sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch square baking pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the almond meal, flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, cider, vanilla, and vinegar. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mixed just until combined—do not overmix. Fold in the walnuts and chopped apple.
Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, until center is set and cake lightly browned. Place on wire rack to cool.
Cinnamon Whipped Cream
Solids from one can of coconut milk (not light), (chill can overnight; don’t shake can before opening)
½ cup powdered sugar (or more to taste)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ – 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Chill a bowl and beaters in the freezer for 30 minutes. Place coconut solids in bowl and beat until smooth and thick. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon and beat to incorporate. Refrigerate at least two hours. Give it a whisk just before serving. This keeps in the fridge for several days.
1 cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup vegan, non-hydrogenated, margarine (Earth Balance is good)
4 teaspoons almond or rice milk
In a small saucepan, over medium heat, heat brown sugar, margarine, and non-dairy milk, stirring frequently. Once mixture comes together, increase heat to medium-high and let cook for one to two more minutes, until it begins to boil and the bubbles move to the middle of the caramel. Remove from heat.
To serve, drizzle caramel over a dessert plate. Place a square of cake in the middle of the plate and top with a big dollop of whipped cream. Drizzle with more caramel. Makes about 9 servings.