Caramel Apple Skillet Cake with Browned Butter Glaze

I have made this sweet treat on a couple of occasions. I love skillet desserts! This one is perfect for fall or even in the winter. It has an amazing texture.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Erin Jeanne McDowell. I used a browned butter glaze from our favorite apple pie bars instead of the salted caramel frosting suggested in the original recipe. I also modified the method. Yum.

Yield: One 10-inch round cake, about 10 to 12 servings

For the Caramel Apples:

  • 4 tablespoons/55 grams unsalted butter
  • 2 large baking apples (about 12 to 16 ounces/340 to 454 grams), such as Honeycrisp, Gala, Granny Smith or Braeburn, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup/110 grams dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the Cake:

  • 1/2 cup/115 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cup/290 grams dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cup/215 grams all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

For the Browned Butter Glaze:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • milk or heavy cream, as necessary, to achieve desired consistency
  • pinch of coarse salt or fine sea salt
  1. Make the Caramel Apples: In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the apples, brown sugar and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the apples soften slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  4. Make the Cake: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, and mix to combine.
  6. Scrape the bowl well, then beat in the vanilla.
  7. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg to combine.
  8. Add the flour mixture to the mixer and mix just until incorporated. Scrape the bowl well.
  9. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the apple mixture (including all of the caramel-like liquid in the pan) into the batter. Mix just until incorporated.
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet and spread into an even layer. Bake until the surface is evenly golden brown and appears set – a toothpick inserted into the center should have a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely. (I baked it on convection for 30 minutes but may add a couple of minutes onto the baking time next time.)
  11. Make the Glaze: In a small pot or pan, melt the butter. Continue to cook until browned and fragrant.
  12. In a small bowl, whisk together browned butter, powdered sugar, a splash of milk, and a pinch of salt. Whisk until smooth. Add milk as needed until drizzling consistency is achieved.
  13. Spoon into a ziplock bag and cut a tiny tip off one corner of the bag.
  14. Drizzle glaze over cooled cake before slicing.

Sparkling Nectarine & Honey Cocktail

This simple sparkling drink is a very light and refreshing end of summer cocktail. It can easily be diluted with club soda or seltzer, to taste.

The recipe was adapted from drinkoftheweek.com. I used a white nectarine and lemon seltzer instead of club soda. The original recipe also suggests using plums, peaches, cherries, or apricots instead of nectarines.

Yield: One drink

  • 1 1/2 oz vodka
  • 1 oz honey syrup (half honey, half warm water)(I used Italian Melata di Bosca honey)
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 nectarine, sliced, plus more for garnish
  • club soda or lemon seltzer
  • fresh mint, for garnish, optional
  1. Muddle the nectarine slices in the honey syrup.
  2. Add the vodka and lemon juice and stir.
  3. Top with ice and club soda or seltzer.
  4. Garnish with nectarine slices and/or mint, as desired.

Watermelon Margaritas

I am a major fan of this pretty pink cocktail. It was very light, refreshing, and minimally sweet. Puréed watermelon is the only source of sweetness. Perfect.

This recipe was adapted from 3-Ingredient Cocktails by Robert Simonson, via The New York Times.  I did not strain the puréed watermelon and omitted the jalapeño slices. We tried it with both the cayenne and salt on the rim, and salt alone. Both were delicious. 😉

The original recipe recommends to taste and add more watermelon juice if your margarita is too boozy, and extra lime juice or even a pinch of salt if it’s too sweet.

Yield: 2 drinks

For the (optional) Salted Rim:

  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt or fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon Tajín or 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)

For the Cocktail:

  • ice, as needed
  • 6 ounces fresh watermelon juice (from about 1 1/2 cups chopped seedless watermelon)(I used cubes from a mini watermelon)
  • 2 ounces tequila, preferably blanco
  • 2 ounces Cointreau
  • 2 ounces fresh lime juice (from 1 to 2 large limes), rinds reserved (I used 1 1/2 limes)
  • 2 to 3 thinly sliced jalapeño rounds, optional
  • small slices of watermelon, for garnish, optional
  1. Prepare the salted rim, if using: In a small shallow bowl or plate, combine the sea salt and Tajín or cayenne. Set aside.
  2. Blend the watermelon in a Vitamix or blender; strain if desired. (I left it puréed.)
  3. In a shaker filled with ice, combine the watermelon juice, tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and jalapeño (if using). Shake to combine. (Note: The watermelon flavor shines brighter without the Cointreau, but the liqueur takes the drink into more traditional margarita territory. If you’d like to compare, first try the mixture without, the liqueur, then add 1 ounce of it per serving.)
  4. Using one of the squeezed lime halves, run it along the rim of two margarita or rocks glasses, then dip the rims into the salt mixture.
  5. Fill the glasses with ice, then strain the margaritas into the glasses. Garnish with additional jalapeño slices and/or watermelon slices. Enjoy immediately.

Chez Panisse’s Blueberry Cobbler

Yes! I have another summer fruit dessert to share.

I could not wait to make this cobbler as soon as I saw the recipe. 🙂 It was described as “prizing berries above all, using only 1/3 cup of sugar.” The berries cooked into jammy and creamy deliciousness.

This recipe was adapted from Chez Panisse via The New York Times, contributed by Molly O’Neill. I used a biscuit cutter for the topping and modified the baking method. I may consider adding some lemon zest to the berries next time. Yum.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

For the Berries:

  • 4 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

For The Dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, plus additional for serving, if desired
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving, if desired
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. To prepare the berries, place in a bowl and toss with the sugar and flour. Set aside.
  3. To make the dough, mix the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a bowl.
  4. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the cream and mix lightly, just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  5. Put the blueberries in a 1 1/2-quart gratin or baking dish.
  6. On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, pat the dough out to 1/2-inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter 2 inches in diameter, cut the dough into rounds. Reform scraps and repeat. (I cut the dough into 12 rounds.)
  7. Arrange dough over the top of the berries, leaving space in between for the berries to bubble through.
  8. Place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake in the preheated oven until the topping is brown and the juices bubble thickly around it, about 35 to 40 minutes. (I tented the cobbler with foil after 30 minutes and then baked it for an additional 5 minutes, or until bubbling in the center.)
  9. Let cool slightly. Serve warm, with cream to pour on top or with ice cream on the side, as desired.

Nectarine & Blueberry Tart

I especially loved this beautiful tart because in addition to being delicious, it is made with a flaky and buttery press-in crust and a cheesecake-like no-bake filling. Nice shortcuts! I topped it with my favorite summer fruit- white nectarines. The original recipe uses peaches which would also be fabulous.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. The chilled temperature and brightness from lemon zest made it very refreshing.

Yield: One 9 or 10-inch tart, about 8 to 10 servings

  • 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Beat butter with confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Reduce speed to medium-low; add flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt and beat until just combined and crumbly (do not overmix).
  4. Press evenly into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch square tart pan or a 9- or 10-inch round tart pan, with a removable bottom.
  5. Dock bottom at 1-inch intervals with the tines of a fork. Freeze 15 minutes.
  6. Place on rimmed baking sheet or pizza tin, and bake until golden brown and set, 23 to 33 minutes. Let cool completely. (Crust can be kept at room temperature, wrapped in plastic, for up to 3 days.)
  7. Beat together cream cheese, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon juice, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar on medium-high speed until creamy.
  8. With mixer running, slowly add cream and beat until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. (You should have about 2 cups.)
  9. Spread mixture into crust; refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.
  10. Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler, peel peaches/nectarines, if desired; cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. (I left the peels intact.)
  11. Transfer to a bowl and stir in berries and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  12. Just before serving, spoon macerated fruit over tart and drizzle some of juice from bowl over it. (I used all of the juice!)
  13. Sprinkle with mint, if desired, and serve.

Strawberry Brown Butter Bettys

Yes… I have a couple more strawberry recipes to share. This is what happens when your family picks over 12 pounds of fresh berries! 😉

Every year, I make strawberry-vanilla bean jam, strawberry shortcake cookies, fresh strawberry gelato, and pancakes with strawberries (both sourdough & simple but perfect)- at the very least. After adding a new strawberry cocktail and spoon cake to the list this year, we still had plenty of berries to enjoy.

This recipe was adapted from Gourmet, via Smitten Kitchen.com. I doubled the recipe to make 12 desserts, used lemon juice instead of zest, and used potato bread instead of white sandwich bread. I measured the berries prior to slicing them.

I loved the combination of browned butter with berries in these simple tarts. We ate them with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. They would also be wonderful served with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

Yield: 6 muffin-sized desserts

  • 3/4 stick salted or unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 6 slices potato sandwich bread or white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest, finely grated OR 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp coarse salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 2 (generous) cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream, for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, preferably on convection, with rack in middle.
  2. Make the Brown Butter: In a small pot, melt butter over medium heat. Once melted, reduce heat to medium-low. The butter will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as while you may be impatient for it to start browning, the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is less than a minute. Remove from heat.
  3. Lightly butter muffin cups with some of brown butter, then sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  4. Roll bread slices with a rolling pin to flatten.
  5. Brush both sides with additional brown butter, then gently fit into muffin cups.
  6. Stir together brown sugar, zest or juice, salt, and panko.
  7. Add strawberries to the sugar mixture and toss to coat.
  8. Stir in remaining brown butter.
  9. Heap strawberry mixture into the prepared bread cups, pressing gently.
  10. Cover pan with foil, place on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake 15 minutes.
  11. Uncover and bake until strawberries are very tender, about 10 to 15 minutes more. (I baked mine for 12 minutes more.)
  12. Let stand 5 minutes before removing from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Strawberry Spoon Cake

There is a lot of (self-imposed!) pressure to use our beautiful freshly picked strawberries in the best possible way. 🙂 I have several treats that we make annually, but I try to select a few new things to make. I had my eye on this spoon cake after seeing it in the New York Times. I loved the name too! Spoon cake.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Jerrelle Guy. I doubled the strawberries and used a larger baking dish. I also weighed the ingredients, including the berries. I may bake it in a 10-inch cast iron skillet next time.

We ate it for dessert with vanilla ice cream. It could be served as a very special breakfast as well. Delicious.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1/2 cup/115 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), melted, plus more for greasing
  • 10 ounces/290 grams (about 2 cups) fresh, hulled strawberries (or thawed frozen strawberries)
  • 2/3 cup/150 grams packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup/120 milliliters whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup/130 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease an 8, 9, or 10-inch (square or round) baking dish with butter. Set aside. (I used a 10-inch round ceramic baking dish.)
  3. Using your hands or the back of a fork, lightly mash the berries to release all their juices, and stir in 1/3 cup of the brown sugar. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar, milk and salt.
  5. Add the flour and baking powder and continue whisking just until the batter is smooth.
  6. Transfer the batter (it’s not much) to the greased baking dish, and spread evenly into corners.
  7. Spoon the strawberries and all their juices over the top of the cake batter.
  8. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or just when a toothpick comes out clean in the center. (I baked mine for 22 minutes in a 10-inch round dish.)
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.
  10. Serve warm with ice cream.

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