The Little Epicurean

Oct 15 2011

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

In Southern California, weather is not the best indicator of the seasons.  Its mid-October and temperatures are still well above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  Forget about hot chocolate and warm bread pudding.  I’m still sipping on iced tea and wearing tank tops and shorts.
Rather than look for falling leaves to tell me its autumn, I look to Starbucks.  Its officially fall once the pumpkin spice latte is back.   I prefer my coffee black, but once in a while I cave in.

I love it when all the festive and holiday desserts start popping up.  And I’ll be even happier when peppermint arrives, specifically the peppermint bark at Williams-Sonoma and the peppermint ice cream at Disneyland.

In the past I’ve made pumpkin coffee cake, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin cheesecake, and pumpkin seed muffins.  They’re all pretty good, but I found a definite winner with this decadent chocolate pumpkin cake.

Its not your typical pumpkin cake.  Its better because its loaded with chocolate and cream cheese.  Plus, the colors scream Halloween.  The addition of pumpkin puree to the chocolate batter makes the cake very moist, similar to the effects of adding applesauce to baked goods.  Its a nice way to achieve moisture without adding more oil and butter.  The pumpkin taste is quite subtle.  You don’t taste it as first and then it hits you.  The warm pumpkin pie spices with the rich chocolate and the tangy cream cheese just melt in your mouth.  It sure tastes like autumn.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake, adapted from Country Living
makes 2- 8 inch cakes and 12 cupcakes


2 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp ground coffee

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup sour cream

1-15 oz can pumpkin puree

2 tsp vanilla paste

2 1/4 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

5 eggs


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease lightly.  Line 12 muffins tins.

2. Sift together dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ground coffee.  Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, sour cream, pumpkin puree and vanilla.  Set aside.

4.  Using a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars with a paddle attachment.  Add eggs one at a time, making sure to scrape down bowl between eggs.

5.  In three additions, alternate adding dry mixture and wet mixture to butter.  Scrape down bowl occasionally to make sure all ingredients are fully incorporated.

6.  Fill muffins tins 2/3 full with batter.  Divide remaining batter between the 2-8in round pans.  Bake cupcakes for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Bake cake rounds for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cake rest for a couple minutes in pan before unmolding and allowing to cool completely.

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting


1/2 cup butter, room temperature

2- 8 oz packages cream cheese, room temperature

2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or more according to taste

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla paste

couple drops of orange gel paste


1.  Cream together butter and cream cheese until fully incorporated.

2.  Add confectioner’s sugar, pumpkin pie spice, salt, ground cinnamon, and vanilla paste.  Beat until combined.  Add a couple drops of orange gel paste to get the desired colored.

Chocolate Glaze


4 oz dark chocolate, chopped

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

3 Tbsp corn syrup

1/2 cup heavy cream


1.  Place chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in a medium bowl.

2.  Bring heavy cream to a boil and pour over chocolate.  Let sit for 1 minute.  Using a rubber spatula, gently stir until smooth.  Stir in small circles in the same spot and gradually increase size of circle.  Let glaze sit for 5 minutes until it slightly thickens.

3.  Pour glaze over the chilled frosted cake and allow glaze drop over the sides.  Let chill in the fridge for 15-30 minutes to set up before serving.

36 Responses to “Chocolate Pumpkin Cake”

  1. October 15, 2011
    2:59 pm

    I live in Florida, so I know what you mean about the weather! This cake looks incredible and I bet it tastes incredible too!

  2. October 15, 2011
    9:56 pm
    Carolyn says...

    That is one gorgeous cake. Love the orange with all the dark chocolate dripping down!

  3. October 15, 2011
    11:18 pm

    We don’t have fall weather here either, but I did have pumpkin spice latte today. Your cake looks fantastic! Love the pumpkin, spice, chocolate, and of course cream cheese flavors together.

  4. October 16, 2011
    12:13 am

    Thanks everyone!

    Oops! Its not a sugarless frosting. I forgot to include the 2 cups of sifted confectioners sugar/powdered sugar in the list of ingredients. Thanks for point that out! The chocolate cake is pretty rich enough that a sugarless frosting could be amazing. I’ll have to try it out!

  5. October 16, 2011
    1:15 am

    Wow, what a beautiful cake! And so festive for Halloween :) Chocolate and pumpkin = deliciousness!

  6. October 16, 2011
    3:35 am

    So stunning. Those colors just pop off of the page!

  7. October 16, 2011
    4:29 am
    Jenn says...

    This is a stunning cake! I love that bright orange buttercream.

  8. October 15, 2011
    10:45 pm
    The Galley Gourmet says...

    What a beautiful cake! This is the first cream cheese frosting that I have seen without sugar. I bet the tang compliments the sweetness of the cake nicely. Thank you for sharing:)

  9. October 15, 2011
    10:56 pm
    Lisa says...

    What a gorgeous and perfect cake for Halloween! Very intrigued by the sugarless cream cheese frosting, but it makes sense with the rich cake and all that chocolate on top. Brilliant!

  10. October 16, 2011
    9:00 am
    Juls says...

    Wow! Halloween is not big at all here but hell, I’d use this as a dessert centrepiece anytime! It looks fabulous! As Cassie above says the colours just pop off the page and the flavours sounds fantastic!

  11. October 16, 2011
    11:16 am
    Tina says...

    This is a great use of fall flavor and makes a stunning presentation. I would love to grace my holiday table with this. Well done!

  12. October 16, 2011
    12:14 pm
    marla says...

    Stunning pumpkin cake! Love the glaze :)

  13. October 16, 2011
    12:38 pm
    Sweet Tooth says...

    Interesting cake. Never had a pumpkin cake before and this one looks so good I have to go out and find a canned pumpkin! :)

  14. October 16, 2011
    5:49 pm

    Gorgeous cake! I love how you made this!

  15. October 16, 2011
    7:00 pm

    This is a beautiful cake!! I can never get my icing that smooth – I haven’t figured out the secret yet. Just gorgeous :)

  16. October 16, 2011
    9:28 pm
    Candee says...

    The cake itself was pretty good. It’s not a bad cake, but I don’t know if I’ve made better, or I was overly excited for it. But the cake was good.

    The frosting…wasn’t as good. I’m not sure what it was, but I did not like it. I even added more sugar, but I don’t know. Luckily, I put it on the cupcakes before the whole cake. I haven’t made the glaze yet, but I’m sure that’ll be fine.

  17. October 16, 2011
    11:42 pm

    This cake is a stunner!!! Love it, it looks so yummy.

  18. October 17, 2011
    12:17 am

    @Megan- It took me a while to get the hang of icing cakes. Everyone has their little tricks for icing. When I was first learning, I was taught to warm up my offset spatula to get a smooth finish on the final coat.

    @Candee- I’m sorry you didn’t like the cake, but thank you for trying out my recipe! I’m a big fan of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice that is usually found in pumpkin pie spice mix–maybe that’s a little strong for some people.

  19. October 17, 2011
    2:19 pm

    That is absolutely gorgeous!

  20. October 17, 2011
    2:31 pm
    Candee says...

    I gotta retract a little what I said. After using a different frosting (I ended up using just a Vanilla Buttercream instead of cream cheese) it was much better. You can really taste the pumpkin. I also let it chill over night in the fridge, so this morning when I took a bite out of it cold, it was really good.

    I’m a huge fan of pumpkin, and love Fall so I can eat all these pumpkin-y things. The only change I made besides the frosting, is that I didn’t have orange, so I used green.

  21. October 19, 2011
    9:07 pm
    Maggie says...

    Oh my gosh, this is a beautiful cake! Nice job. I am going to try your trick of heating up an offset spatula for the final coat. Do you heat it up in warm water?
    Just discovered your blog and love it…I am off to read more now! :-)

  22. October 21, 2011
    8:37 am


  23. October 23, 2011
    3:43 am

    Love this, awesome color, so perfect for Fall. Great photos, love the drippyness :)

  24. October 24, 2011
    5:43 pm
    Alexa Gates says...

    Just made this cake for my grandma’s birthday this weekend :) It turned out beautiful! Thank you for posting this because it really made her day special :)

  25. October 25, 2011
    5:05 am

    @ Alexa Gates- I’m glad you and your family enjoyed the cake! Thanks for visiting my blog :)

  26. November 20, 2011
    1:13 pm
    oli says...

    I made this for work and everyone loved it. I had powdered buttermilk on hand and used that. I found I had to increase the baking time by almost a 1/2 hour. I don’t know if I used the store bought buttermilk if that would have made a difference. So this is a keeper.

  27. December 27, 2011
    2:33 pm
    FoodEpix says...

    Looks delicious. Would love for you to share your pictures with us over at

  28. October 9, 2012
    6:56 pm
    autoshowcase says...

    This is a terrific recipe that turned out beautiful. I used Espresso instead of regular coffee and also in the ganache and added a shot of Kahlua to give it a little pop. Everyone raved about it and I will make it again and again. Thanks so much!

  29. October 27, 2013
    9:53 am

    I should have chopped the chocolate very fine, because I had to melt it a little over heat and the chocolate bit got a little goopy. It still worked well enough for the “draping” but I would shaved or finely chop the chocolate next time. My mistake! The cake and orange icing turned out great, and it tasted amazing!

    • Maryanne replied...

      All that matters is that it tasted great, right?!

  30. October 28, 2014
    1:32 pm
    Gazette says...


    I can’t see the ground coffee used in the recipe!?
    sorry I live in UK :. What is the heavy cream? thick double cream? creme fraiche?
    many thanks.


  1. Pingback: Spooky Chocolate Pumpkin Cake | I'll Make It Myself!

  2. Pingback: 50 Fall Dessert Recipes - The Miracle Momma

  3. Pingback: It’s October and its my 32nd Birthday… | taos baked goods…

  4. Pingback: Tarta de chocolate y calabaza | Con las zarpas en la masa

  5. Pingback: 20 Mouthwathering Halloween Treats - Ottawa Mommy Club - Moms and Kids Online Magazine : Ottawa Mommy Club – Moms and Kids Online Magazine

Leave a Comment