Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tempt Your Taste Buds and Your Reading

 ENJOY recipes by Nicole Baart as well as her book:


My Family Recipe: Apple Pudding with Homemade Caramel Sauce
by Nicole Baart, author of The Beautiful Daughters 

Nicole Baart author photo

“Adri protested, her mouth watering at the thought of her father’s mashed potatoes, glistening with pats of butter and swimming in gravy that he made from the drippings of his roast chicken. When they were kids, she and Will had eaten like royalty. Fat steaks charred on the grill, meatloaf sandwiches with homemade vinegar and ketchup glaze, pork roast with caramelized onions and baked apples. Sam even had one go-to cake, a dense, chocolate confection made with sour cream and a can of cherry pie filling that was best hot from the oven. And even better with a handful of half-burnt birthday candles stuck in the gooey frosting.” (from The Beautiful Daughters)

Adri Vogt, a humanitarian-aid nurse in The Beautiful Daughters, grew up on a small dairy farm in Northwest Iowa, a setting loosely based on my grandparents’ farm. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of that little white house, the chicken coop and barn, and the grove where we played on antique tractors and hunted for litters of wild kittens. But mealtimes were the best. No one could cook like my grandma. And if a cup of sugar was good, surely two cups were better. It’s somewhat shocking to remember those meals today, the way that we consumed so many calories and burned them all off playing outside and doing farm chores. I’ve given up such a rich menu for my family, but a few things remain. The chocolate cake Adri remembers is one of them. My grandma used to let me take a spoon and dig the first, hot bite out of the corner of the pan. Years later I tasted black forest cake for the first time and realized that my grandma’s chocolate cherry cake was a sort of variation. To this day, I like grandma’s better: served warm with, of course, a cup of strong coffee.

I’m actually going to share two family recipes with you because the chocolate cake is so simple it can hardly be called a recipe. (Chocolate Cherry Cake: Prepare a boxed chocolate cake mix as directed, substituting the same amount of sour cream for the oil or butter. Stir in one 15 ounce can of cherry pie filling and 1/2 teaspoon of almond flavoring. Bake as directed. Frost with your favorite chocolate frosting. So delicious!)

Though we love the chocolate cherry cake, our family favorite is actually Apple Pudding with Homemade Caramel Sauce. Don’t let the name fool you–it’s more of a cake than a pudding, an unbelievably delicious and surprisingly easy dessert with a hot topping that transforms it into a sort of sticky cake. It’s homey and decadent, something that Sam, Adri’s father in The Beautiful Daughters, would undoubtedly make for his kids.

 Nicole Baart cake

Photo Credit: Nicole Baart

Apple Pudding with Homemade Caramel Sauce

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 6 medium sized apples, peeled, cored, and diced (I like Braeburn for baking)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients. Incorporate dry ingredients into the butter mixture, stirring well. Fold in diced apples. (The batter will be extremely chunky.) Spread into a greased and floured 9×13 pan. Bake 30-40 minutes at 350. The cake is done when the center bounces back when lightly touched. It will be a dark, brown sugar color—it is not burnt! In fact, we like to overbake it a bit because it turns the edges into a wonderfully chewy, toffee-like concoction. (This pudding is just as good the second and even third day!)

 DSC09929 (2)

Photo Credit: Nicole Baart


While the pudding is baking, melt 1/2 cup of butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir in 1 cup white sugar and 1 cup brown sugar. Slowly drizzle 1 cup of half and half into the saucepan, stirring constantly. Heat through until the sugar granules are completely dissolved, but do not boil. Remove from heat and add 1 tsp. vanilla. Serve warm, spooned generously over individual servings of apple pudding. Refrigerate any unused portion (reheat and stir to serve again).


Nicole Baart is the mother of four children from four different countries. The cofounder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, she lives in a small town in Iowa. She is the author of seven previous novels, including, most recently, Sleeping in Eden. Find out more at

Beautiful Daughters cover image

Atria Books | 428 pages | 978-1-4391-9738-7 | April 28, 2015 | $16.00


  1. This sounds so good, doesn't it?

    I want to make it right now. :)

  2. Looks yummy! I think I just gained 5 lbs for looking. :)
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal - Impartial, Straighforward Fiction Book Reviews

    1. LOL...I agree. Five pounds of instant bliss, though. :)

      Thanks for stopping, Diane.

  3. This sounds absolutely fantastic! And I happen to have a few apples laying around :) I think I know what we're having for dessert!

    1. Yummy...let me know how it turns out.

      Thanks for stopping, Katherine.

  4. Thanks so much for sharing this, Elizabeth! The apple pudding is the farthest thing from "good for you," but it's so yummy. Tastes like home to me. :-)

    1. LOL...I see it is far from "healthy," but it looks so YUMMY!!

      Thanks for stopping by, Nicole. It is always a treat to have an author stop by my blog.

  5. Oh my, those recipes sound delicious!

    1. I know...I need to get some apples.

      Thanks for stopping, Lisa.