We hosted one of these dinners just last Monday, which of course is a meatless day for us. What to serve? Pasta and pizza are easy vegetarian crowd pleasers, but I headed East instead, starting the night off with Fresh Spring Rolls and Vegetable Pad Thai.
The spring rolls were a bit of a project, and it was a weeknight, after all. So, I decided to keep dessert super simple: Lava Lamps, one of the ‘instant alternative’ desserts in my Perfect One-Dish Dinners. Three small scoops of sorbet—raspberry, blood orange, and coconut—in a champagne flute, topped off with a splash of sparkling wine. I could throw that together while David cleared the plates.
When the Barnetts walked in the door, my friend Judy was holding a cake carrier. It turns out I had forgotten I had e-mail accepted her offer to make dessert the week before. I must have kept dessert super simple because subconsciously I knew something better was coming.
The spring rolls were fun. We all enjoyed the Pad Thai, but the star was Judy Barnett’s Apple Cake with Hot Caramel Sauce, which we served with scoops of vanilla ice cream. This simple fall cake was irresistibly moist, but it was the caramel sauce we couldn’t stop talking about (and eating). We insisted on the recipe, which Judy promptly sent that very night.
I immediately checked it out because caramel can be tricky, and yet Judy said it was easy. She was right: bring butter and brown sugar to a boil; off heat, stir in vanilla extract and evaporated milk.
I’m for sure making a pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving. I’m pretty sure I’ll be making a pecan one too (with a little chocolate thrown in for good measure), but I’m absolutely making this apple cake and caramel sauce as part of our dessert trio—it’s just that good.