One of my all time favorite fall things to do is to go apple picking. There’s nothing like biting into a crisp, tart, yet sweet, juicy apple that you pick yourself at an orchard. The one problem is that when you get home, you have a bunch of apples that need to be eaten, given away, cooked, or thrown out in a short time. Without the wax coating and other lovely preservatives that are used on supermarket apples, the orchard-picked apples quickly lose their flavor and appeal. It’s a race against time and a test of endurance. “How do you like them apples?”
Me? I love caramel and peanut covered apples on a stick, apple pie, apple tart, apple crumble, apple crisp, curried butternut squash soup with granny apples, Dutch apple pancake… (Don’t I sound like Bubba from Forest Gump does about shrimp?)
One of my all-time-favorite apple recipes is from Daniel, one of my best friends from college. Although food is one of his passions—no, a religion—he is a GI specialist at Children’s Hospital in Boston. I tell him that when he’s ready to retire on the Cape and open a café, I’ll be there. He and I used to review restaurants in Philadelphia for our college paper, The Phoenix, while we were at Swarthmore. We also cooked Korean brunch for more than 80 people at Paces, the student-run café. The fact that the meal turned out well was testimony that the food deities were smiling on us—especially since, up to that point, neither of us cooked a Korean meal in our lives.
I found the recipe stuck between the pages of my mom’s copy of The Silver Palate Cookbook, where I last remembered putting it for safe-keeping. Since no one at my parents’ house cooks from a cookbook, it was nicely preserved, written on the back of a Far Side tear-off calendar sheet.
The cake itself is dense, moist, and quite chocolatey (if you choose to be generous with the chocolate chips as I do). You can eat it fresh out of the oven, at room temperature, or warmed up in the microwave, a la mode, or a combination thereof. My favorite is eating it the next day, slightly warmed up with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream.
And now, the recipe you all have been waiting for… Daniel recommends using Rome Beauties as they work the best out of all the apples, and says that Granny Smiths are disappointing.
Apple Chocolate Chip Cake
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Mix dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cups of sugar
4 tsp cinnamon
3 3/4 cups of flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cocoa powder (optional)
Combine wet ingredients:
6 cups peeled and shredded apples (about 4-6 large ones)
3 beaten eggs
1/3 cup oil
Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients, and then add:
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (or more)
1 cup chopped nuts (optional).
Spread batter into 9 x 13 baking pan and bake for about 1 hour. Test center of cake with toothpick to make sure it’s done.