For many of us, a happy holiday starts with great food.
This is the time of year to bust out every top notch ingredient, pull your best kitchen tricks out of your sleeve and get the good dishes dirty. It’s also about baking the very best you can, with the spirit of the season in your heart, and sharing with those you love. That’s why holiday food gifts are tippy top on my short list of things I love to give (and receive!)
We canned a lot this year, so I’ll be giving some jars away, but most of my food gifting will be freshly baked seasonal treats. I love the flavors of the season – everything from egg nog and gingerbread to those glistening dried fruits in…yes, I’ll admit it…fruitcake! I have a bunch of tried and true favorites, but I’m always looking for new giftable holiday recipes.
This year I’m adding a new one to the bunch…Caramel Apple Mini Cakes, a King Arthur Flour recipe.
These dense, rich little cakes get their flavor from fresh apples, along with King Arthur Flour’s Boiled Cider. I had a bottle to play with this season and I’m just in love with the burst of pure apple cider flavor it adds, with no artificial ingredients. It’s made from Vermont cider, freshly pressed and boiled until it becomes a thick, pourable syrup. Perfect for everything from apple pie to pork chops in the Crock Pot. (I plan to add some to my mulled cider this year, just to perk it up.)
Topped with a thick cooked caramel frosting, they’re just the thing to complement all those warm, yummy things that seem to show up in mugs this time of year. (Tea, cider, hot toddy, anyone?)
After this season, KAF Boiled Cider has earned a permanent place in my kitchen, right alongside KAF Apple Pie Spice.
These easy-to-make cakes are also easy to gift when you bake them in mini loaf size paper baking pans. King Arthur Flour has disposable paper pans for just about any recipe, making it even easier to deliver to your lucky recipient’s doorstep. They’re plenty strong enough for baking and transporting and they make your gifts look great, especially when you wrap them up with holiday bags, tags, and ribbons. KAF has a huge selection to help make all your kitchen creations look pretty and professional. I love the polka dotted paper cones and BAKE ribbon!
For tons of festive food gift inspiration, visit kingarthurflour.com and make a gift of it!
Caramel Apple Mini Cakes
2 cups (8 ounces) King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour, traditional or white whole wheat
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice or 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons, 6 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (11 1/4 ounces )brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) boiled cider or frozen apple juice concentrate
1/2 cup (4 ounces) applesauce
3 cups peeled, chopped apples (about 3 apples, 3/4 pound before peeling)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) walnuts, chopped
5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup firmly (3 1/4 ounces) packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons (1 3/8 ounces) corn syrup
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) milk
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the wells of a Pop-Up Pan, or 12 muffin cups.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices; set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, stoping once or twice to scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl, then mix in the dry ingredients, vanilla, boiled cider and applesauce, stirring until evenly moistened. Fold in the apples and walnuts.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes for 15 minutes before turning out of the pan; cool completely before frosting.
For the frosting: Melt the butter, stir in the salt, brown sugar, and corn syrup and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts. Add the milk, bring to a rolling boil, and pour into a mixing bowl to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Beat well; if the mixture appears too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar. Spread on the cakes while the frosting is still warm. Yield: 12 servings.