Pumpkin helps keeps this decadent chocolate pumpkin cake moist while orange icing and chocolate glaze give it a signature Halloween look.
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I don’t consider myself to be a prolific cake decorator. I can bake a cake that tastes phenomenal. But when is comes to decorating, my skills are lacking. I just don’t bake cakes enough cakes to properly hone my skills.
The latest trend towards “rustic cakes” is for people like me. Are you familiar with this trend? Basically, you can be a little sloppy with the icing, it’s okay to leave the edges of the cake layers exposed, or don’t even ice them at all!
This post is an update from a recipe I posted back in 2009. While the cake was delicious, the photos were not and I felt it was time for an update. Also, the original recipe no longer fit my lifestyle. I simply do not have time to bake a cake entirely from scratch. I needed to incorporate some shortcuts, like I did with these pumpkin spice cupcakes, to make this a little more practical.
Making the Chocolate Pumpkin Cake Layers
We’re starting with two boxes of Devil’s Food cake mix. I always feel like when I make a cake, it comes out looking a little flat. I really wanted some height, especially for pictures, so I opted to make two mixes and divide them into three layers.
First, preheat the oven according to the package directions. Mine specified to bake at 350 for metal pans.
Combine the cake mixes, canned pumpkin and six large eggs into a mixing bowl. Start low until the cake mix is wet, then increase the speed to medium and mix for two minutes.
Divide the cake mixes evenly into three greased and floured cake pans. I’ve owned several different types of cake pans over the years, but these Chicago Metallic 8-inch nonstick cake pans have become my all-time favorite. I like the height they give my cake layers and I never have a problem getting my cake to pop out of the pan.
You can eyeball the amount of cake batter for each cake pan, but if you have a kitchen scale on hand, I recommend using that. That way you know for sure that each cake layer is even. Just make sure to calibrate your kitchen scale beforehand.
I know digital is the way to go now, but I really do prefer a regular old analog scale. I simply set my needle to zero, place my empty cake pan on top of the scale, then turn the needle to zero again (this factors out the actual weight of the cake pan). Just be sure to readjust your needle before the next time you weigh something.
Bake the cake layers for about 25-35 minutes. I recommend checking after 25 minutes. If a toothpick inserted near the center of the layer comes out clean, you’re good to go. If it comes out with come cake batter stick to it, you know your cake isn’t finished baking and you need to stick it back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes.
Let the chocolate pumpkin cakes cool for about five minutes in the pans. Then remove them to a wire backing rack and allow them to cool completely before icing.
How to Make Orange Cream Cheese Icing:
I actually needed to mixers to complete this part. I mixed my cream cheese and powdered sugar using my KitchenAid stand mixer. Then used a regular hand held mixer to beat the whipped cream that I folded into the cream cheese later on.
I know some of you are wondering if you could use store bought whipped topping instead of making your own whipped cream. I just can’t say for sure because I didn’t try it. If you do decide to go this route, you will need three cups of prepare whipped topping. Add the food coloring slowly and try to avoid over beating.
For the cream cheese part, start with one brick of softened, room temperature cream cheese. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until it’s fluffy.
Add confectioners’ (powdered) sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat on low speed until everything is combined.
In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream, 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, and enough red and yellow food coloring to achieve the orange hue you desire. I started with ¼ teaspoon red food coloring and then continued to add yellow while the mixer was running until I was pleased with the orange color. Continue to mix until soft peaks form.
Next, you are going to gently fold whipped cream mixture into cream cheese mixture. This means that instead of doing this step with a mixer, we’re going to use a spatula and do it by hand. Using a mixer could cause the whipped cream to lose its volume. Gently mix the whipped cream and cream cheese mixture until it is well combined.
Now to Assemble the Cake
Before I get started, I like to trim the top of two cake layer so I have a flat surface on both sides. You can do this with a large knife, but a cake leveler will give you more even results.
Before icing my cake, I place two sheets of waxed paper down over my cake stand. This catches and drips or mess. When I’m done icing the cake, I simply putt the two halves out and I’m left with a nice clean edge.
Place one cake layer down on a cake plate or stand. Spread one cup of orange icing on top of the first cake layer. Place second cake layer half on top of the first. Spread one cup of orange icing on top of the second cake layer. You want to take the icing all the way to the edges.
Top with the third cake layer. Then, using remaining frosting, ice top and sides of cake. Again, I went for the rustic look. I chose to leave the sides of my layer exposed, but you can completely ice them if you choose. Let the cake chill cake for 30 minutes before applying glaze.
Don’t forget the chocolate glaze
This part is what really transforms chocolate pumpkin cake into something decadent. In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate and butter over medium-low heat. Stir frequently to prevent scorching.
If you’re worried about burning the chocolate, you can also do this in a DIY double boiler. Simply place an inch of water in the bottom of a small saucepan, place a slightly larger mixing bowl over the top of the pan. You want the bowl to set over the pan, but the bottom should not touch the water. Bring the water in the saucepan to a boil and place the chocolate and butter in the mixing bowl. Voila! You have yourself a double boiler and you won’t have to worry about scorching the chocolate.
In a separate saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. You can also microwave the cream for one minute. Remove the chocolate from the heat. Pour cream over melted chocolate mixture. Allow it to sit for 3 minutes.
Gently whisk the chocolate glaze until it’s combined. Allow it to sit for an additional five minutes. Pour glaze over top of cake, allowing it to drip over the sides.
I recently joined a recipe club at my local library. Our first meeting was themed Halloween, so I chose to decorate my cake with some fun candy eyes to give it a spook factor. My boys thought it was a hoot and both told me it was the best cake ever.
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Halloween Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Glaze
For the cake:
- 2 15.5 oz. each Devil’s food cake mix
- 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
- 6 large eggs
For the frosting:
- 6 ounces cream cheese softened
- 2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar divided
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- Yellow and red food coloring
For the chocolate glaze:
- 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
- 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- ½ cup heavy cream
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to the recommended temperature on the cake mix.
- Grease and flour the bottom of three 8-inch round cake pans.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mixes, canned pumpkin and eggs. Whisk until combined.
- In another bowl, beat butter and sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Pour equal amounts of batter into the three cake pans. Bake for approximately 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
- Cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
For the icing:
- Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium-high heat until fluffy.
- Add 1 ½ cups powdered sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat on low speed until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, beat heavy cream, the remaining ¾ cup of powdered sugar, and enough red and yellow food coloring to achieve the orange hue you desire. I started with ¼ teaspoon red food coloring and then continued to add yellow while the mixer was running until I was pleased with the orange color. Continue to mix until soft peaks form.
- Gently fold whipped cream mixture into cream cheese mixture until well combined.
- Trim the top of two cake layer so you have a flat surface on both sides.
- Spread one cup of orange icing on top of the first cake layer. Place second cake layer half on top of the first. Spread one cup of orange icing on top of the second cake layer. Top with the third cake layer.
- Using remaining frosting, ice top and sides of cake. Chill cake for 30 minutes before applying glaze.
For the chocolate glaze:
- Over medium-low heat in a small saucepan, melt chocolate and butter. Stir frequently to prevent scorching.
- In a separate saucepan, bring cream to a boil. You can also microwave the cream for one minute. Remove the chocolate from the heat. Pour cream over melted chocolate mixture. Allow to sit for 3 minutes.
- Gently whisk ingredients together until combined. Allow to sit for an additional five minutes.
- Pour glaze over top of cake, allowing it to drip over the sides.