A pumpkin chocolate cake recipe filled with chocolate ganache and topped with a sweet caramel buttercream!
The first week of school needs to be celebrated. I’m not saying I was sitting here celebrating a quiet house. While I certainly did enjoy the solitude, I felt our family had to celebrate my youngest daughter’s first week of kindergarten. We had a rough start. She cried as we walked to the bus stop and she cried while getting onto the bus. Then I took over and cried as I watched the bus pull away. This marked a significant milestone for our family. Our baby is growing up. While I think we should have had a dozen more babies, the reality is that we had to stop sometime. Three is a good number.
Once my tear ducts ran dry, I set about making a treat for the kids. I wanted my little one to be greeted with something sweet to brighten her first day. At first the treat was going to be something simple like chocolate chip cookies or brownies. But, as you can see, things took a turn. They took a glorious, three layer, decadent turn! It just hit me, most celebrations involve cake. So we needed cake!
I typically avoid cakes. They scare me. I’ve had far too many disasters. Which is why I prefer cupcakes!
This time I didn’t want cupcakes, I had my heart set on cake. I sucked it up and dove in. Since fall is practically at our door steps, I decided upon a pumpkin chocolate cake recipe. Did I mention the three layers? I know cream cheese frosting pairs well with pumpkin, but I’m not a fan of the taste. I compromised. I made a caramel buttercream made with a touch of cream cheese. I added ganache to the layers, because really, can one ever have too much chocolate?
Here is the skinny on this chocolate cake recipe. It takes time to prepare. But I can honestly say it’s worth all the effort! The cake is definitely more of a chocolate cake with the pumpkin flavor hanging out in the background. The texture is spot on. Just what a cake should look like, it only has a few crumbs, and the cake bounces back when touched. Once the layers cool, cut off the dome with a serrated knife. What you do with that part is your business. Crumble it over ice cream, make mini cakes, or do what I did and just eat it. Then prepare your ganache. From here you will do quite a bit of layering and refrigerating. That is truly the hardest part. Hard only because you have to wait when all you want to do is finish the darn cake so you can start stuffing your face! Once you have your layers filled and stacked, all that’s left to do is crown the top with the silkiest caramel frosting you’ve ever tasted! Don’t worry about frosting the sides of this one, the layers are a work of art!
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2 hr, 15 Prep Time
35 minCook Time
3 hrTotal Time
- 2 ½ cups flour + 2 tablespoons
- 1 cup cocoa powder + 2 tablespoons
- 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 extract
- 2 ¼ sticks butter, softened
- 1 ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
- 5 whole eggs
- 2 ½ cups heavy cream
- 3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup butter softened
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 11oz package vanilla caramels
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray three 8 inch round cake pans, set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon; set aside. In a separate bowl, stir together the buttermilk, pumpkin and vanilla. Set that aside. In a mixer beat together butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add flour and pumpkin mixture, alternating between the two. Blend well after each addition. Beat until batter is smooth.
- Divide the batter between the three pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Remove cakes and continue to cool completely on your wire rack.
- Meanwhile prepare your ganache. In a saucepan heat heavy cream until bubbles form around the edge. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate chips. Continue to whisk until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes. You want the ganache to be thick but spreadable. Prepare buttercream
- In a microwave safe bowl. Melt caramels and 2 tablespoons of milk in 30-second intervals until melted. Allow caramels to cool.
- For the buttercream, combine butter and cream cheese in the bowl of your mixer. Beat on medium speed until creamy. Mix in salt and vanilla. Slowly mix in powdered sugar one cup at a time adding milk as necessary. Continue to beat until buttercream is smooth. Carefully beat in cooled caramel.
- Remove ganache from refrigerator and allow ganache to stand for 5 minutes before spreading.
- Place bottom cake layer on your serving plate. Using a serrated knife, cut dome off of the top of the cake. Discard. Place about a half a cup of ganache on cake in the center and smooth out towards edges with an offset spatula. Place cake in refrigerator. Allow ganache to set for 10- 20 minutes. Remove and top with one cup of buttercream. Spread buttercream starting from the center and working towards edges.
- Cut top of second cake layer. Place layer over buttercream layer. Repeat process. Continue until all three layers have been stacked. Place remaining frosting on the top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- *Before covering top layer with frosting. Place 3-4 wooden skewers through the cake to keep layers in place. Frost over top to hide the skewers.
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*Cake Recipe Adapted from Country Living