Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Ganache Topping

That title is a mouthful.

I love Halloween. I've always been a big fan, and I think it has something to do with growing up as the child of a cop. We were always warned to avoid strangers, keep to ourselves, and run away and scream for help when a stranger offered us candy. But, for one magical night each year, we threw the rules out the window. Strangers in weird costumes? Awesome! Strangers offering you candy? No problem! Making friends with random kids and adults? Who wouldn't?! And all that rule-breaking was topped off with a scary movie as we gorged ourselves on free sweets. It was better than Christmas.

As an adult, I still love Halloween, and I'm completely open in my admission that I'm jealous of kids. They get to wear costumes to school today, spend the afternoon Trick or Treating, and have a blast, all in the name of childhood.

Because I can't go Trick or Treating on my own (though we'll be taking Hannah out later this afternoon), I have to find other ways to satisfy my sweet tooth and celebrate my favorite holiday (outside of sneaking Halloween candy, that is). So I bake. I try to do something special for the holidays, since after all, they only come around once a  year. This year, I was drawn to this cake from Cake Events Blog, and immediately fell in love with everything they post. I decided that this was perfect for bringing to work to share, and I'm so glad I did. Moist chocolate and pumpkin cake, delicious cream cheese frosting, and a rich chocolate ganache drizzled over the sides of the cake.

Now, look at this picture. It didn't turn out perfect. It actually barely resembles the original recipe and accompanying photograph. I have trouble with cakes; I think I over mix and my cakes don't rise like they should. My icing wasn't as deep a color as I originally wanted, but I did use a pretty cheap mix of food coloring. No matter what I did, I couldn't get a true deep orange color. All that being said, the cake tastes pretty damn good. And since cakes are meant to be eaten, it doesn't really matter that the icing isn't perfect or that the cake didn't rise. It tastes great, and everyone here seemed to love it.

There were a number of steps to this particular cake, but there's no reason you can't get it all done inside of a day, especially for those who are savvier bakers than I. Just because I make things complicated doesn't mean you have to.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake
(Barely adapted from Country Living, via Cake Events Blog)


3/4 c. softened butter (12 T.)
1 c. dark brown sugar
1 c. granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
2/3 c. cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 c. canned pumpkin
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 oz. softened cream cheese
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 1/4 tsp. cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. powdered sugar
Scant 1/4 tsp. orange food coloring

Ganache Topping:

4 oz. finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 T. cold, unsalted butter, diced
3 T. light corn syrup
1/2 c. heavy cream

Heat oven to 375 F.

Line 2 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper and lightly butter. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs and yolk, one at a time, until incorporated. 

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the buttermilk, pumpkin, and vanilla. Set aside.

With the mixer set on low, alternating in batches of thirds, beat in buttermilk and flour mixtures. (Buttermilk, flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk, flour...) When mixed, pour into your prepped pans and bake 30-40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

For frosting, in a mixer set on medium-high, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and vanilla and beat on low speed until combined. Swap out the paddle beater for the wire whisk, and in another mixer bowl, beat cream, powdered sugar, and orange food coloring until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until well combined.

To assemble, use one cup of orange frosting and spread between the two layers. Use the remaining icing to frost the sides and top of the cake. Chill for at least 30 minutes before proceeding to the ganache.

For the ganache, place chopped chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in a glass bowl. Heat cream to boiling and pour over chocolate mixture. Let it sit for 3 minutes. Stir gently until mixture is completely smooth. Let sit for 3-5 minutes, until thickened slightly. Pour the glaze onto the center of the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread out to the edge of the cake and let it drip down the side. Chill until ready to serve.


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