This Quick Microwave Cake Is the Perfect Last-Minute Thanksgiving Dessert for Two

Like a mug cake, but instead of mugs, it’s "baked" inside apples.

By: Frances Kim

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If you’re in project-cooking mode for Thanksgiving and making pies from scratch this year, we applaud you. But if, like some of us, you’re looking for a low-effort, high-reward dessert, we’ve got you covered with Carla Hall’s Ginger Cake “Baked” Apples class on the Food Network Kitchen app. Not only does it free up your oven for Turkey Day (everything comes together on the stovetop and in the microwave), but it also takes just 10 minutes from start to finish. “The idea came from mug cakes,” says Carla. “If we’re making cakes in mugs, why can’t we make them in apples and make the whole thing edible?” Thus was born Carla’s brillant twist of “baking” a cake in a hollowed-out apple.

The first component of this impressive-looking dessert is a homemade apple cider caramel sauce. Carla combines sugar and lemon juice in a nonstick saucepan and lets the mixture cook over medium heat. Meanwhile, she uses an apple corer to core two apples and scoop out some of the flesh, creating the perfect individual vessels for the cake (PSA: Those apple interiors make an excellent snack for the cook!). Carla then microwaves the apples until they soften, all while keeping an eye on the caramel and brushing the sides of the pan with water to prevent any crystallization. Once the caramel takes on that telltale deep amber hue, she adds flaky sea salt for balance, butter for richness, and apple cider, cinnamon and ginger for flavor. “I want my caramel to match the flavors in my cake,” explains Carla. “I’m always looking for ways to bridge flavors.”

Last but not least is the cake itself: Carla whisks more of the aforementioned spices with flour, baking powder, brown sugar, maple syrup, oil and milk, then spoons the batter into the apples. After a quick, seemingly magical turn in the microwave, it puffs up and sets into a fragrant, tender cake. Finished with the caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream and more flaky sea salt, it’s fancy enough for the Thanksgiving table.

While the whole dessert can be made in mere minutes, you can save even more time on the big day by making the caramel sauce and prepping the apples in advance. The recipe serves two, but is also easy to scale up or down, which is just the kind of flexibility we need this year. The best part? Unlike an elaborate pie, you can whip up this 10-minute cake whenever a sugar craving strikes. Whether you make it for Thanksgiving or a random weeknight, you’ll be following Carla’s lead and doing a happy dance when the cake comes out of the microwave.

Between this dessert and her 2 Easy Last-Minute Thanksgiving Side Dishes class (spoiler alert: she shows us how to cook underrated fall ingredients — mushrooms and pearl onions — two ways), Carla — and FNK — is here for all your holiday needs!

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