Pumpkin Cake with Mocha Fudge Frosting

Ditch the pumpkin pie and grab some of this mocha fudge frosted pumpkin cake instead.

Ditch the Pumpkin Pie and grab some of this pumpkin cake instead. Studded with chocolate chips, walnuts and swirled with mocha fudge frosting, the coffee-chocolate combo complements the cinnamon-nutmeg flavor perfectly.

I rarely make the same dish twice- and if I do, it takes a while before get back to it. Take my salted chocolate chip cookies– one of my favourite cookies. However, the last time I baked them was about four months ago. Obviously, this is not because I don’t like them. I just have far too little time and far too many things I would like to make.

But this pumpkin cake has a different story. We were first acquainted during my freshman year of high school. I wanted to venture out into the world of fall baking and pursue a pumpkin-themed recipe, but I was appalled by the use of canned vegetable in dessert, partially because fall lends such beautiful squash and pumpkins for baking. So I did a little cake test to compare whether the canned stuff beat the real stuff. And obviously, the real stuff beat the canned stuff (if you scroll down to the end of the post, I have some instructions on how you can make your own pumpkin puree at home). 

Several weeks ago, fall turned up at my door, as it does each year around mid-September. So did the pumpkins. I decided to revisit this recipe, as I plan to do each fall but never get to it. Instead of making a cake, however, I made a loaf of pumpkin bread, studded with chocolate chips and chopped nuts. It was delicious. I made it again the following week. Then, I decided to pair it with even more chocolate- a mocha fudge frosting, to deem it appropriate for a more formal occasion.

Ditch the Pumpkin Pie and grab some of this pumpkin cake instead. Studded with chocolate chips, walnuts and swirled with mocha fudge frosting, the coffee-chocolate combo complements the cinnamon-nutmeg flavor perfectly.

The combination of fall spices, chocolate and coffee remind me of the much saught after pumpkin spice latte that entices people during the season. The cake itself is very soft, light and totally appropriate for fall. The versatility of this dessert never fails to impress me. You can make it as complicated as you’d like. A simple loaf cake (dubbed pumpkin bread) usually does the trick for me, but if you’re up for something a little fancier, try it with the mocha frosting.

**NOTE** Some people have complained that their icing was too thin to their liking. If you chill it long enough AND place it in the freezer, this shouldn’t be the case. But if you are worried about the consistency, just use 1 cup of cream and you can always add more in later on if it becomes too thick.

Pumpkin Cake with Mocha Fudge Frosting

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 2 cups pumpkin puree*
  • 1 cup vegetable oil or any flavourless variety
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar (brown, white or a combination)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (any kind you like, also optional)

For the mocha fudge frosting:

  • 1 ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp butter (doesn’t matter if it is salted or unsalted)
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 350 g chocolate, I like to use a combination of milk and dark chocolate

For the topping:

  • Almonds, chopped
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Dried cranberries, chopped

Directions:

To make the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F or 180 C.
  2. Grease two 9-inch baking pans with butter (or just grease a 9x13 inch rectangular pan). Place one of the cake pans on a piece of parchment paper and trace around it to form a circle. Cut two circles of the same size and place at the bottom of the buttered cake pan, pressing down so that the paper sticks well. Dust the buttered/lined pan with flour, tapping out the excess to coat. Do this with the other pan as well, and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, blend together the pumpkin puree, oil, vanilla and eggs until smooth. Add the granulated sugar and continue to mix (In the video, I added the sugar after the spices/leavening agents but it doesn't matter whether you do it here or later as long as you get it in before the flour).
  4. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  5. Gradually mix in the flour, until the batter is slightly thick and smooth, being careful to scrape down the bottom of the bowl to make sure that all the flour is well-incorporated and that you do not over-mix, as over-mixing can result in a tough cake.
  6. Finally, fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts just until combined.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, then cool completely.
  8. In the meantime, prepare the frosting.

To make the frosting:

  1. In a medium sized, microwave-safe bowl, pour in the cream.
  2. Add the butter and espresso, and stir just to combine.
  3. Place the bowl in the microwave for 2 minutes You can alternately place the mixture into a saucepan and heat it on the stovetop, stirring constantly until it reaches a boil.
  4. Quickly add in the chopped chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds.
  5. Using a whisk, stir the ingredients together until velvety and glossy.
  6. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and place in the refrigerator to cool for several hours or until thick and spreadable. I actually like to place mine in the freezer, stirring every 30 minutes, for about 2 hours total.

Assembling the cake:

  1. Run a knife through the edge of the pans to loosen the cake layers.
  2. Flip the pan over onto a cake board or plate.
  3. Gently peel off the parchment paper to reveal a flat surface.
  4. Spoon 1/3 of the chocolate mocha frosting onto the surface of the cake, and spread it out using a butter knife or offset spatula.
  5. Carefully lay the second cake layer on top, so that the parchment lined side is on the top. Peel the parchment paper and spoon the rest of the frosting on the top. Spread it evenly to create a smooth layer, then work the frosting down down the sides.
  6. For a whimsical effect, glide the offset spatula through the top of the cake in a circular motion, working from the outside to the middle to create a spiral.
  7. To finish, sprinkle the cranberries, pumpkin seeds and chopped almonds on the border of the cake.
  8. This cake generously serves 12-16 people and stores well in the refrigerator for about a week.
*HOW TO MAKE PUMPKIN PUREE - I made my own pumpkin puree for this recipe. You can easily do this at home with a sugared pumpkin or squash (I actually like to use the Hokkaido pumpkin squash). You can check out my step-by-step tutorial on how to make your own pumpkin purée here.
Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com - this is the same recipe I use to make my pumpkin cupcakes

Ditch the Pumpkin Pie and grab some of this pumpkin cake instead. Studded with chocolate chips, walnuts and swirled with mocha fudge frosting, the coffee-chocolate combo complements the cinnamon-nutmeg flavor perfectly.