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Ina Garten’s Applesauce Cake Looks Great, But It’s the Secret Ingredient in the Frosting That Has Us Drooling

Pumpkin seems to be our top ingredient when it comes to fall cooking and baking, but there’s another classic fall ingredient that deserves our love: apples! Apple picking is one of our favorite autumn activities, and we can’t get enough of apple butter, apple cider, and applesauce. But rather than saving our applesauce for quick snacks and breakfasts, we thought we’d look for a way to use it in a recipe. Imagine our delight when we saw that Ina Garten had posted an applesauce cake recipe? Even better, this isn’t one of those healthy “cakes” – it’s moist and rich and covered with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting. But that’s not the only ingredient that has us drooling over this applesauce cake recipe, which is featured in Garten’s just-released cookbook Modern Comfort Food.

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We can’t not mention the bourbon! We love the smoky, maple-caramel notes of good bourbon, and it’s featured in this recipe in two ways. First, the raisins inside the cake are soaked in bourbon until they get plump and juicy, each one bursting with flavor when you bite into your cake. Second, there’s actually bourbon in the cream cheese frosting. The zingy bourbon flavor helps keep the cream cheese frosting from tasting too heavy, and those maple-caramel notes give the cake an extra dose of fall goodness.

Now, sometimes we worry that fruit cakes like this might be dry, but the fact is that applesauce keeps things super-moist. We can’t lie, the butter in the recipe helps too.

The cake uses a full 1 1/2 cups of unsweetened applesauce, so it genuinely has a good dose of autumn apple flavor, especially if you use homemade applesauce. The apple is complemented by a combination of classic warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, with a dash of peppery cloves and a generous dose of good vanilla rounding out the flavors.

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When the cake comes out of the oven, you need to let it cool before covering it with creamy, cloud-like swirls of bourbon cream cheese frosting, along with an optional topping of toasted pecan halves for nuttiness and crunch.

It’s the ideal fall dessert, and would be divine after any one of your favorite autumn comfort food meals — though we won’t tell if you decide to sneak a slice with your morning cup of coffee, too.

Before you go, check out Garten’s best dinner recipes below:

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