Food + Wine

Brown Sugar Apple Cake- the sequel

ATTENTION!!!!!  If you’re looking for a Thanksgiving dessert alternative (or addition) this is the recipe for you!!!  

So I created this cake 2 years ago, and it was killer.  A very popular recipe.  So good.  It’s a cake made completely with whole wheat flour, studded with chunks of fresh apples, marbled with cream cheese, containing no oil or butter, with reduced sugar and then glazed with a very decadent salted caramel frosting.  You don’t miss the low sugar or lack of added fat in the cake at all, you don’t even mind that it’s 100% whole wheat… because of that damn frosting.

That damn good frosting.

(You have my heart at salted caramel.)

So I went to make it again the other day but decided to play around with it…just to see if I could make it even better…even healthier?  And I did!  I cut back on the sugar even more, in both the cake batter and the frosting, added some lemon, and added rosemary to the frosting.  It’s incredible.  So so good.  And unique.  And awesome.  It could double as a breakfast even, because it’s not overly sweet.  But it’s also sweet enough to be a dessert.  It has a wonderful balance of sweet and savory… it’s just a really great recipe.  I can’t say enough about it.

But whenever I make a healthy recipe, desserts specifically, I run several taste tests among different types of people- kids, adults, healthy eaters, un-healthy eaters… I want to make sure that it’s not just a good dessert to me, a healthy eating person, but also to the people who are used to high sugar slash ‘normal’ desserts.  (I’m always making sure you’re getting a good recipe from me!!)

And for the first time I thought I would share some of the feedback quotes-

“I like the cake.  I like the apples.  I kind of like everything about it.” (-that’s my 6 yr old son!)
“I like it.  And I ate it.  And I loved it.  And I like the apples too.” (-…my 3 yr old daughter)
“Wow!!! Really good!  Not too sweet, nice and moist!…” 

“I think it’s delicious.  Tastes like Fall.” 

“…It was great.  Sweet enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, 
but not so sweet that you feel guilty after eating it.”

“I especially love that it was made with all whole wheat flour.  
Things like that I don’t feel bad about eating, even for breakfast!”

“…It was fantastic.  Everyone loved it!” 

So, there ya have it, folks.  Sounds like they all agree…

Damn good cake.


B R O W N   S U G A R   A P P L E   C A K E  
W I T H   S A L T E D   C A R A M E L – R O S E M A R Y   F R O S T I N G
(yeah, yeah, this is the same picture from the original recipe post.  Sue me.)


First get together your dry ingredients…


In a medium bowl add the following and whisk to combine…
-2 cups whole wheat flour
-1 rounded tsp kosher salt
-2 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-2 tsp ground cinnamon
-1/2 tsp allspice
-1/2 tsp or so freshly grated nutmeg
Set aside

Next, prep your apples…

In another medium bowl, dice 4 cups of granny smith apples (this is 3 large apples or 4 of the smaller sized ones that come in the bag).  I prefer to leave the peels on, always.
Add the zest and juice of 1 lemon to the apples, stir to coat.  Set aside.
Now, onto the cream cheese mixture…

In a small mixing bowl, add the following…
-1 (8 oz) brick (reduced fat) neufchatel cream cheese, room temperature
-2 TB light brown sugar
-1 large egg

Beat until fully combined and creamy.  Set aside.

Now onto your wet cake ingredients…

In a large mixing bowl combine…
-1 cup unsweetened applesauce
-3/4 cup light brown sugar
-3 large eggs
-splash vanilla extract
Beat until fully combined.
Add your wet applesauce mixture to your dry ingredients.

Fold in your chopped apples…

Grease and flour a 10 inch bundt pan.


Pour half of your batter into the pan.Pour in your cream cheese mixture and spread evenly over the batter.

Pour in your remaining cake batter and spread it out evenly.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 min-1 hour, or until it has pulled away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick comes out relatively clean when stuck in the center.  (You don’t want any wet batter on the toothpick, but some moist crumbs stuck to it is fine.)

And while your cake is baking, make your frosting (recipe below).
Allow your cake to cool in the pan until you can easily handle it to flip it over onto a serving plate.  (You want a plate with high edges so the frosting doesn’t spill over.)
Pour your frosting over the cake and spread it evenly, it will most likely drip over the sides, and not cover all of the cake.  You can choose to either scoop it back up from the plate and cover the entire surface area of the cake, or let it lie…it’s up to you!
And if you plan on serving the cake immediately, glaze it when it’s warm and serve then.  If you’re making it to be served later, you can either frost it warm and allow it all to cool or frost it after it’s cooled completely and then store it.  Again, it’s up to you.

I believe this cake is best served warm or room temperature, and it’s absolutely killer with a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on the side.

Just sayin’


*Salted Caramel Rosemary Frosting…

In a medium saucepan, combine the following…
-1 stick unsalted butter
-1/2 cup light brown sugar
-3/4 tsp kosher salt
-1/2 tsp dried rosemary

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.

Turn off the heat and slowly pour in 1/4 cup half&half (or heavy cream…)


Stir.  Turn the heat back on and simmer for about 30 seconds or so, still stirring, just until you see it start to thicken.

And a good splash of vanilla extract, plus a smaller splash of almond extract.

Take it off the heat again and allow it cool completely before frosting.  (It will thicken as it cools.)

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