This recipe for cinnamon caramel apple coffee cake was inspired while I was surfing Facebook and came across Krusteaz‘s Seize the What If Virtual Bake-Off. It allowed you to mix and match ingredients to create your own recipe using one of their boxed mixes as the canvas. While I usually bake from scratch, Krusteaz is a “go to” brand for me to whip up a quick coffee cake. Their virtual bake-off had you select one of their mixes, so I chose my favorite Cinnamon Swirl Crumb Cake & Muffin mix.
Then it asked you to pick three ingredients to add to the mix. Normally, I’d add some cherry pie filling to this mix for a satisfying cherry cinnamon coffee cake. But my second ingredient was going to be a new product, Kraft Premium Caramel Bits. I had recently used them in a Salted Caramel & Pretzel Brownies recipe, and I had a bag left over. So I went with the apple pie filling to pair with the caramel. Remembering the Salted Caramel & Pretzel Brownies gave me “salt on the brain.” So I thought I’d attempt one of my all-time favorite flavor combinations: caramel apple with peanuts.
I recommend eating this while it’s still warm from the oven (or reheat in the microwave) and pairing it with a mug of rich, hot cocoa (using milk, not water!) or a strong cup of coffee. Cinnamon Caramel Apple Coffee Cake is true comfort food on a day like today: the winter solstice and both the shortest day [and longest night] of the year.
Preheat your oven to 350F degrees. Lightly grease an 8×8-inch baking pan.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the water, egg and cake mix until moistened. Do not overmix. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, thoroughly combine the apple pie filling, caramel and chopped peanuts. Set aside.
Spoon half of the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread evenly. Drop the apple-caramel mixture by tablespoonfuls evenly over the batter.This mixture will be thick and clumpy. As needed, gently spread it out so every piece of coffeecake will have elements of the apple-caramel filling.
Drop the remaining batter in small spoonfuls over the apple-caramel mixture. Spread the batter to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle the cinnamon topping evenly over the batter.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting.