Apples, cranberries and orange – oh, my!

Apple Walnut Torta

The chocoholic in me never ceases to be amazed that my palate can go so wild over other, less rich (or rich in other ways) flavors.

This morning it was Giada De Laurentiis’ Apple and Walnut Torta that made my mouth water. I saw her make it on the “Thanksgiving for Two” episode of Everyday Italian, and I promptly got up and started making the cake.

Every ingredient except the orange-flavored liqueur is a staple in my kitchen; I simply substituted a teaspoon of orange extract and some water. But I was out of dried cranberries, so I did have to go to the store. There, I found orange-flavored Craisins – yum! (Side note: For a snack, these are better than plain dried cranberries. The orange gives them an outstanding flavor, and a 1/3-cup serving contains 3 grams of fiber and no fat.)

As with the spice cookies I made two weeks ago, I could have eaten every last crumb of this cake, especially when it was still warm. In fact, because I wanted to share the cake with two sets of friends (a future client and a couple who did something nice for us), I started whipping up a second cake as soon as I tasted the first one. It’s made in an 8-inch pan, so it doesn’t go as far as a 9×13-inch cake. However, I will still have a few extra slices. Millie, if you see this post before Sunday morning, look me up between services and I’ll feed you!

In the next post, I’ll report on the Health-by-Chocolate Cookies I made from The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals. So far I’m the only one who has tasted them. My husband, who is ill, didn’t feel like trying one this afternoon, but I’m sure he will soon.

Apple and Walnut Torta (with a few modifications by Suzy)
Giada De Laurentiis, Everyday Italian

¼ cup orange-flavored liqueur OR 1/4 cup water plus 1 teaspoon orange extract
¼ cup dried cranberries (recommended: Ocean Spray Craisins, orange flavor)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Zest of ½ an orange
1 cup all-purpose flour OR 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
4 eggs
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups diced, peeled apples (about 2 apples)
½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
Ice cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In small saucepan, heat orange liquid. Turn off heat and add cranberries, making sure all are submerged in liquid. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix cinnamon and orange zest. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In large bowl, mix eggs, butter, sugar and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add apples, walnuts and drained cranberries. Spoon mixture into lightly buttered 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish or cake pan. Bake about 30 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

To serve, while still warm cut into squares or wedges and serve with ice cream.

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