Ummmmmm……Did I just combine all the best fall flavors into one heavenly slice of cake? I surely did! By now, you know…I love fall. And you probably also know that I love cake. So when I decided to make a cake to celebrate the first few chilly days of fall, it was a no-brainer. I knew I had to make my Pumpkin Caramel Apple Poke Cake.
Last year, I was trolling around on Pinterest, like I do every morning, and I realized I was seeing an awful lot of recipes for “poke” cakes. A “poke” cake is a cake that gets holes punched all over it after it comes out of the oven and cools a bit. Then, a liquid of some sort is poured over the top and because of the holes, it really sinks in and flavors the cake. Typically, I would see poke cakes made with Jell-O or pudding. I knew I had to try it with one of my Gourmet Rooster fruit spreads. I did, and my Pumpkin Caramel Apple Poke cake was born. It is a pumpkin spice cake, topped with a mixture of my Gourmet Rooster Whiskey Apple Spread and caramel, then the whole thing gets topped with a rich cream cheese frosting and a drizzle of caramel. It is ridiculously good and easy too!
I use a box mix for my cake….surprise, surprise. I use a spice cake mix. Of course, I doctor it up a bit. I always use milk instead of water for a box mix, one extra egg and melted butter instead of oil. This makes for a more tender and richer cake. It always tastes “homemade”.
I add about one cup of canned pumpkin to the batter for a good, strong pumpkin flavor. Don’t use Pumpkin Pie Mix, make sure your can is just pureed pumpkin. I also added in another tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice, because I feel you can never have too much. Ok, I am sure you probably can….but I haven’t hit that threshold yet.
Once the cakes bakes in a 9x13 baking pan, I let it cool all the way. Once it has cooled, I poked holes all over the top with the end of a wooden spoon. Then, I heat up a jar of Whiskey Apple spread on the stovetop. You can use any flavor apple butter you can get your hands on. I will still love you.
I mix the apple spread with about half as much caramel, and let the two heat together. Once the apple spread and caramel are heated through and thoroughly combined, I pour that over the top of the cake. I set the cake aside and let it do its cake thing for about half an hour.
If you are wondering….no, I don’t make my own caramel. I buy a jar of the stuff that is found by the ice cream.
While the cake is absorbing all the yummy flavors of apple and caramel, I get busy with the frosting, which is really super easy. I like to use boxed cake mix, but I never use canned frosting. I don’t like the fake sugary taste. I always make my own frosting. Mainly because it is so easy, but it also tastes way better.
My cream cheese frosting is just softened butter blended with softened cream cheese, vanilla extract and powdered sugar. It all gets blended together in a standing mixer or with a hand mixer. Sometimes I add a splash of cream if I want to thin it out a bit. This really is perfect cream cheese frosting. It isn’t too sweet, or too tangy….It is just right.
I top my cake with all of the yummy frosting. Then, I drizzle some of the leftover caramel sauce all over the top. I bet some people would like chopped pecans strewn about too. I am not one of those people….but have at it if you are.
This cake, oh man, this cake….This cake is warm, spicy, sweet, and rich all at the same time. You will have visions of playing in a pumpkin patch, or drinking hot chocolate by a roaring bonfire, or jumping in a pile of leaves. Ok, I exaggerate a bit with that, but I’m not exaggerating about how good this cake is!
Pumpkin Caramel Apple Cake
1 box Spice Cake Mix
1 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
8 ounces Apple Butter (I used Gourmet Rooster Whiskey Apple Spread)
4 ounces Caramel
½ cup butter (1 stick), softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
Caramel for drizzling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray.
In a mixing bowl, beat together cake mix, eggs, milk, melted butter, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice with a hand mixer for two minutes, scraping sides occasionally. Pour batter into greased 9x13 pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean and cake is pulling away from the sides.
Set cake aside to cool for at least an hour. Once cooled, poke holes all over the top of the cake with the end of a wooden spoon.
In a small sauce pan, heat together apple butter and ½ cup (4 ounces) caramel over medium heat. Cook until thoroughly mixed and heated through. Pour mixture over cake and spread evenly with a spatula. Let cake cool again and absorb apple mixture for at least 30 minutes.
In a large bowl, blend together with a hand mixer, softened cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly blend in vanilla. Finally, blend in powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached.
Spread frosting over top of cake, evenly. Drizzle with caramel as desired.