Molasses Apple Cake with Whisky Caramel & Cinnamon Marshmallows

Molasses Apple Cake with Whisky Caramel and Cinnamon Marshmallows

Okay, guys, hold onto your hats! The gratin I posted the other day served as the official start of the holiday season on this here blog. We’ve got two Thanksgivings, a Halloween and Christmas/Hanukkah (Bae is Jewish) to contend with. So, limit your mindless grazing and ramp up your weekly km because things are about to get decadent ’round here. Case in point: this Molasses Apple Cake with Whisky Caramel and Cinnamon Marshmallows. Now, if you’re thinking that just sounds like three desserts stacked on top of each other, well, you’re *very right. It’s a delicious hot mess of a cake and you should take it as a warning. The next few months are going to be a little dicey.

Apples - Molasses Apple Cake with Whisky Caramel and Cinnamon Marshmallows

If you’re feeling apprehensive about your dwindling reserves of willpower, fear not. Not every recipe will be as extra as this Molasses Apple Cake. There’s no way I could maintain that kind of pace (or butter intake) for three months. No, there will be green things, healthy(ish) things, some may even be sensible things. There will just be a lot less of them. So, let’s relax, check a few worries at the door and surrender to the riot of butter and sugar that is the holiday season in North America. Let’s do this!

Cinnamon Marshmallows - Molasses Apple Cake with Whisky Caramel and Cinnamon Marshmallows

Okay, so today’s cake is a riff on the naked cake trend that took root some years ago and never really left. I’ve always been in full support of them because I’m not the biggest fan of frosting. There! I said it. Cake and I are totally cool but too much frosting sets my teeth on edge and this sensation, frankly, interferes with my enjoyment of cake. I do realize I am in the minority. As evidence, I submit the continued popularity of cupcakes. Those pups are, like, 50% frosting.

Whisky Caramel - Molasses Apple Cake with Whisky Caramel and Cinnamon Marshmallows

If you’re thinking I’m a giant hypocrite, you are right. There are buttercream recipes on this blog, I’m constantly complaining about my less than choice piping skills, and I can barely contain my fascination with macarons, which are famously 1/3 buttercream. There is a simple and insane explanation for all of this, I swear.

Molasses Apple Cake - Molasses Apple Cake with Whisky Caramel and Cinnamon Marshmallows

My mother once accused me of enjoying the way food looks more than the way it tastes. I, of course, was offended and disagreed. How dare she question the motivations of my artistry? I wasn’t about style over substance, surely. Except I was. And I may still be a teensy bit. It’s not that my food doesn’t taste good, at least no one’s thrown it back at me, but I will say I am more motivated by the final presentation of a dish than I probably should be. Essentially, I only like and work with buttercream because it’s pretty. But today’s Molasses Apple Cake was designed to be the antidote to my obsession with buttercream perfection. The caramel cannot be controlled by any piping bag and the cakes themselves aren’t trimmed or fussed with in any way. Oh, and more importantly, I am 100% into the flavor of every component of this cake.

Molasses Apple Cake with Whisky Caramel and Cinnamon Marshmallows

So, let’s talk about those luscious components. Well, first off you have a heavily spiced molasses cake, laced with amazing in-season apple chunks. Can we pause for a minute and just appreciate how much better apples taste right now. They are truly a different species than those mid-February imposters; honestly, they’re barely apples. I used Cortlands in the Molasses Apple Cake because they are a bitchin’ baking apple. They kind of go creamy when they’re introduced to heat and, yes, it is as good as it sounds.

Cinnamon Marshmallow - Molasses Apple Cake with Whisky Caramel and Cinnamon Marshmallows

Now, things get sticky. Yes, this recipe requires you to make caramel AND marshmallows and if that doesn’t spark at least a little apprehension, you do not have a healthy enough fear of hot things. I clenched my teeth throughout the entire process. Sugar heated to a bananas temperature should scare you, it just should, it’s very hot. But does that mean you should make this recipe? Oh, hell no! You should totally make it. A little fear is good for us all. Plus, like the apples I mentioned earlier, homemade caramel and marshmallows are almost a different species when compared with their packaged brethren. They are just so. freaking. good! So, be brave, my friend, and boil that sugar!

Cinnamon Marshmallows - Molasses Apple Cake with Whisky Caramel and Cinnamon Marshmallows

The Whisky Caramel that drips and coats this Molasses Apple Cake tastes just like cubes of caramel that are ubiquitous during this time of year. You know, those baby caramels that find their way into the bottom corners of your Halloween candy bag (or pillowcase)? The Whisky Caramel has a creamy, thick quality to it that simply kicks every other caramel sauce’s ass. Oh, and did I mention it has whisky? Nuff said!

Molasses Apple Cake with Whisky Caramel and Cinnamon Marshmallows

Finally, we’ve arrived at the Cinnamon Marshmallows. This one is not exactly an intuitive addition. In fact, I wouldn’t blame you if you found it to be completely and utterly perplexing. Why add marshmallows to a cake that is not s’more affiliated. Well, why not? I like molasses cake, I like apples and caramel, and I like marshmallows, why can’t they hang out together?

So, yeah, this Molasses Apple Cake with Whisky Caramel and Cinnamon Marshmallows is the opposite of a restrained and classy wedding cake. It’s a gooey, hot mess of a cake; a riot of sugary cravings and debaucherous design. It delivers raw joy without refinement and it most certainly isn’t a case of style over substance. The flavor is where it should be: front and center.



Molasses Apple Cake with Whisky Caramel & Cinnamon Marshmallows


Molasses Apple Cake

  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1/4 cup fancy molasses
  • 3 eggs room temperature
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons {gingerbread spice|}
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Cortland apples peeled and cut into chunks

Cinnamon Marshmallows

  • 3 envelopes powdered gelatin
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cold water divided
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup white corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon divided
  • 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

Whisky Caramel

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar tightly packed
  • 1 cup white corn syrup
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 oz whisky
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt


For the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease three 6-inch cake pans and line them with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Place the butter, sugar and molasses in a stand-mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream the sugar and molasses into the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at time and stream in the milk and vanilla extract. Mix until all the ingredients are well integrated.
  • In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, spice mix and salt together. Whisk to combine. With the mixer set to low, slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet. Mix until a silky batter forms.
  • Turn the mixer off and remove the bowl. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the apple chunks.
  • Divide the batter among the prepared cake pans using an ice cream scoop or ladle. Place the pans in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted in the center of the cake and removed cleanly.
  • Let the cake cool in their pans for 10 minutes before removing. Transfer the cakes to a cooling wrack and let cool completely. Wrap the cakes tightly in plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.

For the Marshmallows

  • Grease an 8x8-inch pan with vegetable oil and line with parchment paper. Lightly grease the parchment paper as well and set the pan aside.
  • Pour 1/2 cup of the water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the surface. Set aside to gel.
  • Place the granulated sugar, corn syrup, honey, cinnamon sticks and 2 teaspoons of the ground cinnamon in a large saucepan. Whisk to combine. Place the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Insert a candy thermometer and heat the mixture to 122°C/252°F without stirring - the stirring will cause the sugar to crystalize. Remove the mixture from the heat and pour into a stand-mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Let the mixture cool to 100°C/212°F.
  • While the sugars are cooling, melt the gelatin in a double boiler until liquid. Pour the gelatin into the cooled sugars and whisk on high for 8 minutes.
  • Spoon the marshmallow into the prepared pan and, using a greased spatula, spread the mixture to create an even layer. Take another piece of greased parchment paper and press it on top of the marshmallow mixture to create a flat, even surface. Place the pan in the fridge and let sit overnight.
  • Once the marshmallow is set, whisk the remaining cinnamon, confectioner's sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl. Remove parchment paper and dust the surface of the marshmallows with the cornstarch mixture. Invert the pan on a cutting board. Peel the remaining pieces of parchment from the marshmallows and dust the remaining sides with the cornstarch mixture.
  • Using a greased knife, cut the marshmallows into 25-30 squares. Dust the finished squares in more of the cornstarch mixture. Store in a tightly sealed container in the fridge until ready to use.

For the Caramel

  • Place the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. As the butter melts, stir to integrate. Once the butter has melted and the mixture begins to boil, stir in the cream and insert a candy thermometer.
  • Heat the the caramel to 114°C/238°F, stirring constantly. Remove the caramel from the heat and stir in the whisky, salt and vanilla. Take care, the caramel will bubble aggressively when you introduce the whisky. Set the caramel aside to cool.

To Assemble

  • Place the Molasses Apple Cake layers on a cooling wrack above a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pour lukewarm caramel on top of each layer and let stand and drip for 15 minutes. The caramel should be warm enough to pour but only just.Once the caramel has set, stack the layers on top of one another.
  • Take 6-7 marshmallow (yes, you will have leftover marshmallows) and cut them into smaller cubes, about the size of a miniature marshmallow. Pile the marshmallows on top of the cake and garnish with candied ginger if desired.
  • Transfer the cake to the fridge and let chill for 1 hour before serving.

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