Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Have you ever seen the movie Meet Me in St. Louis with Judy Garland? It's one of my all-time favorite movies.  I just love the beautiful depictions of turn-of-the-century life in St. Louis around the time of the World's Fair.  I have been watching the movie since I was a kid and always sing along with it and wish we still wore those beautiful dresses.  I love the scene at Halloween when the younger children come in from trick-or-treating and the family gathers in the dining room to eat this massive and elaborate cake that Katie the housekeeper has prepared for Halloween.  I always drool over that cake every time I watch the movie and wonder what it is and wish I had the recipe. :)

I decided to make my own massive Halloween cake although its not quite as elaborate as Katie's.  It is, however, both chocolaty and spicy with a touch of sweet creamy orange frosting and VERY delicious.  If you  want to make a treat for your family to gather around after the Halloween festivities are over like in Meet Me in St. Louis, I'm offering up this delightful cake.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Note:  You can also make this recipe into cupcakes if you prefer.  Line 2-12 cup muffin pans with cupcake liners instead of using cake pans.

2 1/2 cups + 2 tbs. all-purpose flour
1 cup + 2 tbs. good-quality cocoa
1 tbs. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/4 ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg (or 1/2 tsp. nutmeg)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (firmly packed) dark brown sugar (I used light brown and it worked fine)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs

1.  Prepare cake pans:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease 3 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with a circle of parchment paper.  Lightly grease the parchment paper.  Note: It is VERY important to use the parchment paper for this cake.  It is very moist and dense and the first time I made this cake I only used grease and flour for my pans and the cake stuck! When I used the parchment paper, the cake came out perfectly.

2.  Make the batter:  Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl and set aside.  Combine the buttermilk, pumpkin, and vanilla in a medium bowl and set aside.  Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer set on medium speed, until fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until the mixture is smooth and light.  Alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, blending well after each addition.

3. Bake the cake:  Divide the batter among the pans and bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean-- about 35 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pan for 20 minutes.  Remove cakes and cool (For cupcakes: Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  Place cupcake liners in standard cupcake tins and fill each with 1/4 cup of batter.  Bake for 22 minutes.)

4. Assemble the cake: Trim each of the layers so that they are smooth.  Place one layer on a cake plate and top with one third of the frosting.  Repeat with the second and third layers.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 tbs. fresh orange juice
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
orange food coloring (I used Americolor gel coloring)

Blend the cream cheese, butter, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla in a large bowl, using an electric mixer at medium speed, until smooth.

Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and creamy-- about 3 more minutes.  Add the food coloring and gently stir until the color is uniform.

Chill the frosting until ready to ice the cupcakes or cake.

Recipe from Country Living


  1. This sounds so comforting and I love that orange color. Great movie reference. I love Judy Garland!

  2. This sounds so good! Perfect for Halloween. I wish we still wore those dresses too. I always fantasize about being invited to a ball and I would totally wear one of those dresses.

  3. Mhmm, your cake is gorgeous! I love how tall and even it looks. My cakes tend to come out a little lopsided (even after I trim the tops), so I think I'd stick with making cupcakes out of this recipe.

  4. I love that you found a way to work pumpkin into the cake. This is great!

  5. Gorgeous! And an original take on pumpkin cake. I love that movie, too - and the dresses!

  6. That movie is one of my favorites too, Ryan. I really love pumpkin and chocolate together, but have not had the two with orange. Your cake is just beautiful!

  7. I think my family would applaud if they saw your stunning cake in our kitchen...such a beauty with its three layers and yummy icing! Fabulous!

  8. Chocolate pumpkin cake? Great combo and it looks delicious.

  9. after drooling over you cake I'm going to look for the Meet Me in St. Louis movie on netflix. you got me curious!

  10. What a glorious creation. I love the combination of ingredients that you've used. The flavors play nicely against each other. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  11. That dark chocolate cake loooks goood.

  12. now i have judy garland singing meet me in st. louis in my head haha! it's funny how i was singing this song over and over before i moved to STL from SD. it got stucked for days... now i will be singing that tune again, and thinking about these massive cake of yours! yum!
    happy halloween from STL!

  13. Dark chocolate and pumpkin always get my vote. You also topped this off nicely with that orange cream cheese frosting. Very stunning and no doubt delicious.
    Yes I do love the clothes from that era-almost to the point of buying a vintage style dress of my own. Great post.

  14. Now that's one gorgeous cake, Ryan! Perfect for Halloween. This is a time when I reeeally wish I liked chocolate. ;)

  15. Beautiful cake Ryan! Orange cream cheese frosting sounds perfect and I love the color it adds to the cake!

  16. Oh, no you didn't! This looks FANTASTIC! Chocolate AND pumpkin?! Perfect match... BTW I was OBSESSED with Judy Garland as a kid. Loved that movie!

  17. Ryan, That movie is one of my all time favorites! My favorite part of is when Judy sings "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". Love your's gorgeous and is perfect for Halloween!

  18. this is really spectacular! delicious recipe and wonderful pictures - really lovely post!
    mary x

  19. This sounds so good - cream cheese frosting with orange - how could I not like that? Orange flavor is one of my favs! I might do this for the week of Thanksgiving - I've got guests for the entire week and I was just thinking we need some other sweet stuff that isn't pie!


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