This month’s theme for the What’s Baking group was pumpkin or squash. There are so many options for this theme that I was almost overwhelmed with what to make. I chose this cake for a number of reasons: it used exactly the amount of pumpkin puree that I had in the refrigerator and I needed a great looking cake to take to work to celebrate October birthdays. This cake fit the bill!
Now, pumpkin isn’t my favorite flavor, but I was very excited to try this cake, since I hadn’t ever seen a chocolate pumpkin cake! I figured that the pumpkin wouldn’t be a strong flavor, but I figured it would add great texture and moistness to the cake. Caramel is such a popular flavor at work that I knew the frosting by itself would be a hit. The original recipe also included a layer of chocolate ganache, but I thought that would just be too much.
This cake was fantastic. The pumpkin flavor was subtle, which I liked, and the cake texture was just beautiful. The frosting was so good, but you have to be careful when making it: if the caramel is warm, the frosting will be runny. Mine was on the warm side, so I had to refrigerate it to allow it to cool and set before assembling the cake. I took this very tall cake to work and it was great. The pieces are very large! Make sure you check out Carrie’s Sweet Life, this month’s host, to see this month’s other pumpkin/squash recipes.
Pumpkin Chocolate Cake with Caramel Frosting
2 ½ cups + 2 tablespoons flour
1 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ cup buttermilk
1 ½ cups pumpkin puree
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ cups butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 ½ cups sugar
11 ounce package caramels
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup butter softened
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
4 ½ cups powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray three 8” round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment and spray the parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, pumpkin and vanilla. In a large mixer bowl beat together the butter, brown sugar, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer running on low, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then half of the buttermilk mixture. Add an additional 1/3 of the flour mixture and the remaining buttermilk mixture. Add the final 1/3 of the flour and stir until incorporated. Divide the batter between the three prepared cake pans.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 15 minutes and then remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.
Make the frosting: in a microwave safe bowl or in a saucepan over low heat, melt the caramels with 2 tablespoons milk. Allow the caramels to cool for about 15 minutes.
In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until creamy. Stir in the salt and vanilla. With the mixer running on low, mix in the powdered sugar one cup at a time. Once you’ve added the powdered sugar, add milk as needed to achieve spreading consistency. Stir in the cooled caramel.
Assemble the cake: Place the bottom cake layer upside down on a serving plate. Top with about 1 cup of the frosting. Allow the frosting to set in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Top with another cake layer, right side up, and top with 1 cup of frosting. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Top with the final cake layer, and top with another 1 cup of frosting. (You may have extra frosting.) If desired, drizzle with chocolate syrup and swirl to make a decorative design. Refrigerate until serving.
Recipe from Lemons for Lulu