What do you do with extra caramel cake? Make a trifle. That is what I did after the second attempt in my caramel cake quest was not so successful. The cake part was perfect but the frosting was not so much, again. The saga of the caramel frosting continues.
This time I used an old recipe from a friend of my mother in law. It seemed simple. Cook butter, sugar, and evaporated milk on low for one hour, take off heat, add vanilla, and spread on cake. I watched over it stirring to make sure it did not scorch. At one hour it was still liquid and had not thickened at all. I knew that was not right so I kept going. At 1½ hours it started to thicken a bit and turn more caramel color. After a little while longer I took it off the heat, added the vanilla, and did my best to spread it on the cake. The frosting crystalized the second it hit the cake. Spreading it was tough and there was not enough frosting to cover the two 9″ layers and the sides.
This frosting had the right flavor but the wrong texture. I looked at the cake and thought I had to do something with it. I did not want all the time and effort or the cake to go to waste. Then it came to me: Trifle, yes, I will make a good trifle. Caramel + apples = yummy. So off I went to get the supplies to make the pudding, baked apples, and whipped cream. The vanilla pudding recipe is one I got years ago from my mother-in-law. The baked apples recipe is adapted from “Baked Apple Slices” from The Apple Cookbook by Olwen Woodier. I wanted only caramel flavor so my recipe omits the spices along with a few other changes. The whipped cream recipe is a basic one that can be found just about anywhere on the internet and in cookbooks.
Trifles are fun and pretty too. They make a great dessert table centerpiece. The layers of cake, pudding, and whipped cream are luscious. This one is great for fall with the caramel apples. If you do not have caramel cake then use pound cake and caramel ice cream topping. Plan for a good amount of time to prepare including making and chilling the pudding, baking and cooling the apples, and whipping the cream.
Caramel Apple Trifle
Caramel cake cut into about 1″ cubes or pound cake cut into about 1″ cubes
1 jar caramel ice cream topping if using pound cake
Vanilla Pudding (recipe below)
Baked Apples (recipe below)
Whipped Cream (recipe below)
In a trifle bowl put a single layer of the cake cubes, pour ½ jar of caramel topping evenly on top (if using with pound cake), cover with ½ of the pudding, place a single layer of apples on the pudding, and top with ½ of whipped cream. Repeat layers. Refrigerate. Serve cold. Keep leftovers refrigerated. You can use a deep glass serving bowl if you do not have a trifle bowl.
3 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour or cake flour
3 egg yolks
Dash of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sugar
Put all ingredients in a saucepan and whisk to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring to prevent scorching. Boil for about 1 minute and remove from heat. Pour into a bowl and place plastic wrap directly on top of pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate until assembling the trifle.
9 granny smith apples
¾ cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons apple juice
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter or grease a large baking dish. Peel and core apples and slice into 8 even wedges. Put apple wedges in the baking dish. Combine the brown sugar and flour and sprinkle over the apples. Melt the butter and combine with the apple juice. Pour butter/juice mixture over the apples. Stir gently to coat the apples and spread out the apples in the baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, stirring after about 10 minutes. If the apples seem to be dry re-cover with foil after stirring. Baking time can be adjusted for preferred apple texture, either very soft or still somewhat firm. Let cool to room temperature before using apples in the trifle. Refrigerate leftovers in a sealed container.
2 cups cold heavy whipping cream (keep in refrigerator until whipping)
2 tablespoons sugar or confectioners sugar
In a large bowl whip cream using a hand mixer on medium speed until it looks foamy. Add the sugar and then beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat. For best results chill bowl and beaters in freezer beforehand.