Fall is synonymous with a seemingly endless list of excitement (cooler weather, fashion layering and football games among it) but, most tastefully, it shifts our palates to craving seasonal flavors. Herein this mouth-watering list lays the apple.
September and October are prime PYO months at local farms. Piping hot cider, fresh bakery goods and the family-friendly atmosphere make for a most enjoyable leisure afternoon trip. What’s not to love? I have warm childhood memories of visiting Trax Farms with my family each fall to pick up some seasonal décor (i.e. a square hay bale for the front yard post), the addicting Vidalia Onion Salsa from their market and, of course, pumpkins and apples.
On a trip from NYC to Highland Orchards outside of Philadelphia, PA a few weeks back, both Jonathan and McIntosh were ripe for picking – two late-summer/early-fall apple varieties with a tart flavor and white flesh that are perfect for baking. When picking, you will find that the apples in the field have a chalky appearance. Well, here’s a tip: give the apple a quick buff against your shirt and, lo and behold, it becomes so shiny with wax-line sheen that they almost appear faux. Do this to each and everyone one and your bag will become the apple of the orchard’s eye. Really!
Being satisfied with a mixed bag of about 30 apples, my mind turned to recipes – apple pie and apple dumplings…always tasty, but made many times in past. Saving applesauce for another time, this Chocolate Chip Apple Cake was an easy pick. Having looked at the recipe dozens of times on the Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker site for work, I had to finally put it to test myself.
There is something truly delicious about a soft, baked apple complimented by cinnamon spice. Nestled within a moist, buttery white cake with a hint of bittersweet chocolate, and each bite becomes something special. Go the distance by adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum. I made this recipe in loafs pan, but do recommend the 9×9 square; the cake is not nearly as firm as a bread, so serving will be easier in the latter. Keep in mind for brunch, a light dessert or simply just because!
Chocolate Chip Apple Cake
Recipe by Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker
½ c butter
1 c brown sugar
1 c white sugar plus 3 tablespoons reserved for topping
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp lemon juice
1 cup milk
2 to 3 apples, peeled, cored, chopped to measure 3 c
1-1/2 c toasted, chopped walnuts, ½ cup reserved for topping
4 oz (2/3 c) SCHARFFEN BERGER 62% Semisweet Chocolate, chopped (Note: I used about 4 oz of SCHARFFEN BERGER 70% Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chunks…a favorite.)
½ tsp cinnamon reserved for topping
1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch cake pan.
2. Cream butter and sugars in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Add eggs, one at a time. Add in the lemon juice. Beat in the milk.
3. Mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter and egg mixture until just combined.
4. Peel, core and coarsely chop the apples.
5. To toast the walnuts, put on a tray in the oven or toaster oven at 300 degrees for approximately 20 minutes. Check to make sure they don’t burn. You’ll smell them when they begin toasting.
6. Chop the walnuts and reserve ½ cup for the topping.
7. Add the apples, walnuts and coarsely chopped chocolate to the batter
8. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan.
9. Mix together the remaining ½ cup chopped walnuts, 3 tablespoons sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle on top of the cake.
10. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the cake is firm, a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when inserted and the cake just begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool on a rack.