A few weeks ago, I was asked to provide a dessert for an employee appreciation meeting. Why I don’t stick with something tried and true for these occasions, I’ll never know, but, once again, I began searching for an autumn dessert that sounded good. In doing so, I ran across this recipe, and it looked and sounded delicious, so I thought I’d give it a try.
The morning of the meeting, I got it started, allowing time for it to be refrigerated before frosting. This is when I first became skeptical. I baked the cake according to package directions, but it was obviously not done in the center… Yikes, what was happening? I covered the cake with a cookie sheet, lowered the temperature and baked it a little longer, checking it frequently. Finally, after about 10 minutes, it passed the “toothpick test,” and I removed it from the oven and proceeded with the instructions.
I completed the cake and refrigerated it until time to serve at the meeting. That’s when my second bout with skepticism occurred. When I cut the cake, it wasn’t the consistency of “normal” cake, and I feared that it wasn’t done. However, my fears were soon alleviated when the compliments started rolling in, and several people asked for the recipe. This cake is very moist.
I’ve made this cake a few more times since that first attempt and tweaked the baking time and process a little. The recipe and instructions below are what ended up working best for me.
Caramel apple poke cake
1 box yellow cake mix
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 can apple pie filling, roughly chopped
1 can sweetened condensed milk
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup caramel sauce
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups whipped cream or Cool Whip
Chopped pecans or toffee bits
In a large mixing bowl, stir 1 teaspoon cinnamon into the dry cake mix, then add ingredients called for on the package. Beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer. Gently fold in chopped apple pie filling (I used kitchen scissors and cut the apples right in the can). Pour into a greased 13×9 baking dish and bake at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you see the edges are getting done before the center, cover the cake pan with a cookie sheet and continue baking and checking for doneness. This will allow the center of the cake to continue baking without over-browning the edges.
When the cake is done, remove from the oven and cool for 20 minutes then gently poke holes into the cake with the end of a wooden spoon.
Put the sweetened condensed milk into a microwavable container and microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring each time, until thin enough to pour — about 1 minute.
Refrigerate cake for 4 hours or overnight.
Meanwhile, make the frosting. Beat butter and cream cheese on high speed for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 cup caramel sauce. Beat for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Gently fold in whipped cream or cool whip. Add more as desired for a thicker consistency.
Drizzle with remaining caramel sauce and sprinkle with optional chopped pecans or toffee bits. Refrigerate until ready to serve, then cut into squares. ♦