These individual orange-spiced cakes draped with a nutty honey-caramel will have you planning your next dinner party around the dessert rather than the main course. A scoop of ice cream will send it off the charts.
Game plan: You can also bake a single cake in an 8-inch cake pan for 45 minutes.
- Yields: 6 servings
- Difficulty: Medium
- Total: 50 mins, plus 35 mins baking time
- Active: 50 mins
For the caramel:
- 1/3 cup toasted whole almonds, coarsely chopped
- 1 large Granny Smith apple
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 medium lemon)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), plus more for coating the ramekins
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup orange blossom honey
- 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
For the cake:
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon packed finely grated orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- Cinnamon or Vanilla Bean ice cream, for serving (optional)
For the caramel:
- Heat the oven to 325°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat 6 (6-ounce) ramekins with butter and evenly space them on a baking sheet. Divide almonds among the ramekins.
- Peel, core, and cut the apple into medium dice. Place in a medium, nonreactive bowl, add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, and toss to combine; set aside.
- Melt butter in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat until foaming. Add sugar, honey, and salt and stir to combine. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until mixture just starts to turn a light caramel color, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon lemon juice and stir to combine.
- Remove the pan from heat and carefully place about 2 tablespoons of the caramel in each ramekin. (Work quickly—the caramel will start to set after a few minutes.) Divide the apple pieces among the ramekins, leaving any juice in the bowl; set the ramekins aside.
For the cake:
- Place flour, orange zest, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps; set aside.
- Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium high until light in color and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until incorporated and fluffy, about 3 minutes more. Add eggs one at a time, letting the first incorporate before adding the second. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle with a rubber spatula.
- Return the mixer to low speed, add the milk, and mix until just incorporated. Add the reserved flour mixture and mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds; do not overmix. Evenly spoon the batter over the apples and smooth the tops. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Immediately run a knife around the perimeter of each cake. Using a dry kitchen towel to grasp the ramekins, invert the hot cakes onto serving plates. Serve with ice cream, if desired.