I adapted this recipe is from an old Family Circle magazine; the issue it was in is conveniently not printed on my clipping, but the original recipe is available on the FC website.
If you have nut allergies, then by all means leave out the pecans. Otherwise, leave them in. The few minutes it will take you to toast, chop and add them are truly worth your time and effort.
Apple Caramel Cake
serves 8 (family) or 12 (Hadassah meeting)
adapted from Family Circle
1 cup pecan halves
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted margarine, divided
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1-1/3 cups packed brown sugar, divided
1-3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Granny Smith apples
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1-1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup water
Heat oven to 375F. Heat small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add pecans, and stir constantly for 1-2 minutes, or just until fragrant; watch closely as pecans can quickly burn. Remove pecans to a heat-proof plate and allow to cool.
Lightly spray bottom and sides of a 2 quart-sized square casserole dish or 9x9x2 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Melt margarine. Peel, core and thinly slice apples.
Place 3 tablespoons of the melted margarine in bottom of pan; swirl to coat bottom. Sprinkle evenly with 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Arrange 12 pecan halves around outer edges of pan, pointed ends facing out and flat-side up. Chop remaining pecans and set aside. Arrange apple slices in pan, overlapping if necessary.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and remaining cinnamon.
In a medium-sized bowl, beat together remaining margarine and brown sugar in medium-size bowl until smooth. Beat in apple sauce. Stir in water. With a spatula, fold in flour mixture and chopped nuts just until combined. Spoon into prepared pan evenly over apples.
Bake for 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool on rack for 10 minutes. Invert onto serving plate; remove pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.