Photo: Jim Franco; Styling: Annette Joseph
Hands-on Time
25 Mins
Total Time
3 Hours 30 Mins
Makes 12 servings

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350º. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.

Step 2

Beat sugar and next 4 ingredients at high speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer 5 minutes. Stir together flour and next 4 ingredients; gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating at low speed just until blended. Add apples, chocolate, and pecans; beat just until blended. Spoon into 2 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.

Step 3

Bake at 350º for 28 to 32 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire rack, and cool completely (about 1 hour). Spread Browned Butter Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake.

Step 4

Mocha-Apple Bundt Cake: Omit Browned Butter Frosting. Prepare batter as directed; spoon into a greased and floured 12-cup Bundt pan. Bake at 350º for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 2 hours).

Ratings & Reviews

bettygwill's Review

August 30, 2014
If you follow this recipe exactly you will have a wonderful not be afraid to try this...... My cake was a beautiful moist tasty The frosting was outstanding All that had a piece said it was one of the best cake they had ever eaten. Again FOLLOW EXACT DIRECTIONS IF YOU WANT A CAKE LIKE THE PICTURE SHOWS do not leave out ingredients or add will not be the same

misereres's Review

October 05, 2013
I had absolutely NO problems with this cake at all. However, I did make a three changes: I exempted instant coffee since I felt that it would be one too many flavours with the apples, spices, pecans and chocolate. Instead of milk chocolate I switched to semi sweet. Lastly, I used Arkansas Black apples (which are my all time favourite) instead of Granny Smith. I keep these changes every time I bake this cake. Yes, the batter was a little thick for me but nowhere near as thick as other people have mentioned. ANY batter with fresh fruit in it is going to be a little thick/dry because the juice from the fruit adds extra moisture during the baking process! I am quite OBSESSED with the brown butter frosting. The first time I followed this recipe I accidentally only made half the amount so I made a chocolate ganache frosting for between the layers. It's decadent without being overly rich. This is now an autumn staple in my house, I make it at least three to four times a season!

gswbgw80's Review

September 16, 2012
I'll admit I am puzzled by there being any positive reviews for this recipe. I made the mistake of not reading any reviews before I tried it. Following the instructions given, after adding the dry ingredients I had something almost too thick for my mixer to handle and I saw no way to stir in the apples, nuts, and chocolate. I looked for similar recipes online and added the following: 1 additional egg, 1 additional cup of sugar, 1/2 cup additional oil. Even then the batter was very thick. I thinned it with a dollop or two of milk, until I had something that was the consistency of cake batter. The resulting cake is okay, but not something I'll put on my list to try again. I should add that I made the Bundt cake version, so I didn't try the icing at all.

MawmawJoAnn's Review

May 20, 2012

maisie10's Review

November 23, 2011
My daughter, who does not have much baking experience, baked this recipe last night. It was incredible. She said the batter was VERY thick and she was afraid she had done something wrong, but went on and baked the cake..and we were so happy she did! The apples add such moistness. Just because something is DIFFERENT doesn't mean it is wrong.

Baroo46's Review

November 06, 2011
If you have to choose between two Southern Living recipes for an apple cake, go with the apple bundt cake with cream cheese filling. It is delicious! I like to bake and often take items to work for feedback. The bundt cake got rave reviews this cake was sampled and tossed. The final texture is odd and the combination of flavors is off. I've made other cakes, most notably a wonderful Paula Deen pear cake, with a thick batter and they bake up dense and moist. Something is off with this recipe.

bluesmom's Review

October 16, 2011
I made a "baby" cake version (1/2 the recipe) as a test run since the reviews were so bad. I figured the batter needed to be stiff as most fruits will release moisture during cooking which could leave the cake runny. My Kitchen Aide (which is my grandmother's from the 70s) had no trouble with the batter. The cake was moist and flavorful. I will make the full version for a Halloween Dinner party I have planned.

gbeaulieu's Review

October 08, 2011
This is a wonderful autumn cake!! I am glad I did not read the reviews before I baked it. I used my food processor to chop the apples, and overdid it a little; it was more like applesauce! But, the cake was moist and turned out of the pans easily. You must take the butter off the heat right at the 6-8 minute mark. My friends loved this cake, and I will definitely use this frosting again-maybe on a cake that requires a caramel frosting.

shny132's Review

September 28, 2011
I disagree with the poor reviews. I thought this cake was very interesting! The batter was thick and turned out to have a consistency similar to cookie dough, but I really liked that every bite had a surprise (chocolate, pecans, apples). The cake did turn out similar to the picture which was nice. View it via tiny url

SareBear's Review

September 26, 2011
I must say I'm VERY surprised to see so many bad reviews. I LOVED this recipe. It was absolutely delicious! Red velvet, carrot, and spice have always been my favorite but I'm definitely adding this one to my list now!