Whew. That's a long title. But there's a lot going on in this cake, and I didn't even mention the dried apple garnish!
A few months ago I had dinner with a friend at a French restaurant, and since I seem to be doing less dining out these days (because, le budget), we decided to make the most of the dinner and go for the cheese course during dessert. One of the cheeses was a triple cream brie, and it was so good I immediately knew I wanted to use it at home. But of course, because my brain goes in weird directions sometimes, I wasn't thinking about spreading it on crackers or baking it. No, instead, I very badly wanted take that cheese and put it in frosting.
Fortunately, the internet is handy for finding like-minded weirdos, and a quick search showed me that I am not the first person to want to make frosting out of aged, soft cheese. But what to pair it with?
I decided to stick around the neighborhood of normal, at least in terms of flavor profile. I paired my frosting with a warmly spiced cake filled with softened green apples, then topped it with a rich, slightly salted cider caramel. All taken together, this cake is not really that far off from the sweeter versions of baked brie. Most importantly, it was a hit! After trying it, no one thought brie in frosting was an insane idea. And if they thought that before, they at least were polite enough not to tell me.
I made this beauty as a Thanksgiving dessert, but I think it also fits snugly within the December portion of the holiday season, especially if you are worried about an overdose of chocolate and peppermint. I've got to be honest though, as I'm sure you can tell from the photos, this cake won't save you from an overdose of caramel.
Apple-Filled Spice Cake with Brie Frosting and Cider Caramel
Makes one 6-inch cake
1/2 recipe Golden Spice Cake from King Arthur Flour
1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and diced small
juice from 1 lemon
1 tbs boiled cider
1 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1 tsp cornstarch
6 oz brie, room temperature, rind removed
2 oz unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
Apple Cider Caramel Sauce:
1 cup boiled cider
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
splash vanilla extract
pinch sea salt
2 tbs butter
3 tbs heavy cream
Apple chips (store bought or see notes for recipe)
- Make the cake batter according to the recipe (for more layers or if making a larger cake, make the full recipe). Divide evenly between two 6-inch cake pans and bake 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool for 10 minutes in pans then remove from pans and let cool completely on a wire rack. This can be done in advance and well-wrapped cake rounds can be frozen until ready to assemble cake.
- Make apple filling: Mix all ingredients together in a small saucepan and cook, covered, 25-30 minutes, until apples are softened and mixture has thickened. Let cool.
- Make caramel sauce: Boil all ingredients except heavy cream together in a small saucepan, then lower to a simmer and cook, until mixture has reduced to 3/4 cup, about 10-15 minutes. Be careful not to burn, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and carefully add the cream (mixture may bubble up). Let cool.
- When ready to decorate, level off any domed cake layers. Make frosting: Combine brie and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed until combined and fluffy. Add sugar and mix on low to incorporate, then beat on medium high speed for 2-3 minutes until frosting is light and fluffy.
- Pipe frosting around the outer edge of the top of one of the cake layers and fill with the apple mixture (it may be helpful to freeze the cake for a few minutes after piping the frosting to firm it up) and top with the second cake layer. With the remaining frosting, coat the cake with a crumb frosting layer, smoothing out the sides and using any extra frosting on top. Chill cake until ready to top with caramel.
- When ready to serve, warm up caramel sauce if necessary to get it pourable (but not too hot, you don't want to melt the frosting!). Pour as much as desired over the top of the cake and let drip down over the sides (see notes). Garnish with apple slices as desired and serve.
- The amount of frosting called for will give the cake a "naked" look. If you would like to completely frost the cake then make another batch of frosting, but once the caramel is on this cake is probably sweet enough without the extra coat of frosting.
- A note about the cheese: it needs to be very soft, but don't be tempted to rush this process by microwaving it. It will most likely just immediately begin melting, and once that happens there is no making frosting out of it. I learned this the hard way and was rewarded with a 9 am trip to the grocery store on Thanksgiving.
- If you want the caramel to be more of a "hat" instead of a coat, then I would pour the caramel over the cake no more than 30 minutes before you are ready to serve. Even on a chilled cake that is kept in the refrigerator, the caramel will continue to drip down the sides, eventually forming a solid layer down the sides and over the top (as pictured).
- For the apple slices to garnish, just thinly slice any apple of your choice (I used red delicious) and bake at 225 degrees for 1 hour, or until dried out and crispy, flipping halfway through.
- The cake, filling, and caramel all use boiled cider, which is a specialty ingredient, but I found it sold here or here, or you can of course make it yourself. A good (although large-quantity) recipe can be found here.