This comes from the cookbook "The Pastry Queen Christmas". I wish you could see the picture of the cake in the book. YUM! I haven't tried this yet, but once I do, I will report here how it tastes.
I know the directions look lengthy and complicated, but for the most part, they are just wordy, is all.
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
3 cups sugar
2 tbsp molasses
6 large eggs
3 cups cake flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt (not table salt)
2 tbsp cinnamon (yes, tbsp)
2 tsp allspice
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1 cup sour cream
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 tbsp vanilla (yes, tbsp)
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger (optional)
1 (14 - oz) bag caramels, unwrapped
4 tbsp heavy whipping cream, divided
2 tbsp PLUS 1 1/2 cups butter, softened, divided
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups pwd sugar
1 cup (8 - oz) mascarpone (Italian cream cheese, available at most grocery stores)*
2 cups pecan pieces, toasted (optional)
Place one oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and a second rack in the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 9" cake pans with butter or cooing spray, then line each with a parchment paper round and grease the rounds.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the molasses. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, soda, salt and spices to blend. Add the flour mixture and sour cream alternately to the batter. (Start and end with the flour mixture, adding the flour mixture in three increments and the sour cream in two increments.) After each addition, mix on low speed just to combine the ingredients. Stir in the shredded apples, vanilla and ginger.
Spoon the batter (it will be thick) evenly into the prepared pans. Place two cake pans side by side on one rack, and the third pan on the other rack, so that no layer is directly over another. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, until firm to the touch. Monitor the layers carefully for doneness; each one may be done at a different time. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pans and unmold the cakes onto wire racks to cool completely, 15 - 30 minutes, before frosting.
If desired, the cakes can be kept frozen, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for 3 weeks. Defrost them at room temperature before unwrapping. Frost immediately.
To make the Icing
In a medium stainless-steel bowl, combine the unwrapped caramels, 2 tbsp of the cream, and 2 tbsp butter. Place over a saucepan filled with 2" of simmering water. Stir the caramel mixture until smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat. Let cool, stirring mixture every few minutes, until cool to the touch, about minutes. (If the mixture is too warm, it will melt the buttercream frosting when it is stirred in later.)
While the caramel is cooling, make the buttercream: using an electric mixer, beat 1 1/2 cups butter on medium-high speed for about 1 minute, until pale in color. Add the remaining 2 tbsp cream, vanilla and pwd sugar, and beat for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the mascarpone and beat on medium-low speed until incorportated. Do not overbeat the mascarpone, or it will separate. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooled caramel mixture to drizzle over the cake once it is frosted. Stir together the remainder of the caramel into the frosting, using large strokes to create caramel swirls throughout. Don't stir it up too mich, or ribbons of caramel will disappear.
Place one cake layer on a serving plate and spread a thick blanket of frosting on top. Add the second layer and spread thickly with frosting. Add the third layer and cover the top and sides of the cake with an even layer of frosting. Use a small spoon to drizzle the reserved caramel over the top of the cake. pat on the toasted pecan pieces to cover only the sides of the cake.
* I would think that you could use regular cream cheese in place of the mascarpone.