Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting


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Oh, hi there! It’s me again—I think I might be back this time. ;) At least today I come bearing gifts, or well one super scrumptious, out-of-this-world gift…yep, this STUNNING cake!!! It screams fall, doesn’t it?! Like oooh look at me, such a lovely autumn delight cake.

Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting | Love.Bake.Read

You guys, you’re going to seriously fall in love with this cake! It got rave reviews from the hubs and all my co-workers. Oh, and me too, of course! Without a doubt, one of the best cakes to ever grace my lips. Drooling-good-deliciousness. A few co-workers have already asked me to make them a cake of their own. Ha! :)

Let’s dive-in and really talk about this cake now, shall we?! A perfectly spiced, super-duper moist pumpkin cake. My friends, it’s like a pumpkin spice latte poured itself right into the cake batter. Perfection, I tell you. Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, oh my!

Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting | Love.Bake.Read

Then I just couldn’t help myself, so I spread chocolate ganache over-top of each and every cake layer. Did I mention there are four layers of cake? Ooh baby! Then on top of the ganache is a thick, fluffy layer of salted caramel cream cheese frosting. SALTED CARAMEL, y’all. Then you frost the entire cake in the same incredible frosting. But wait, let’s not forget the candied pecans. Oh yes I did! Candied pecans all around the bottom of the cake + on top.

I went all out here, obviously. It was like baking therapy. Some people go for retail therapy, but not I. Nope, I bake instead. :) It’s good for the soul.

Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting | Love.Bake.Read

Oh, and also on a happy note, I made another scrumptious dinner last night—pumpkin ravioli with maple brown butter sauce and toasted pecans. So, so good! Wish I could say I made the ravioli, but really that was all Aldi (yep, store-bought goodness).

And yet another happy note?! I hit the mat for a yoga session last night and it was AH-MAZING, rejuvenating, therapeutic. In other words, everything I needed. My first time on the mat in like 7 weeks. Baby steps, my friends, baby steps!

Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting | Love.Bake.Read

Now go on and delve headfirst into making this outrageous Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting. Quite a mouthful, eh!? :) You can DO IT. Promise.

Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
 
Author:
Serves: 12-14
Ingredients
Pumpkin Cakes
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter—melted (for the pans) + 2-3 tbsp. flour (for coating the pans)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2¼ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • 1¼ cups light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup milk (I used 2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. half & half (for fat) and filled the rest with almond milk)
Salted Caramel Sauce
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 12 tbsp. unsalted butter—room temperature + cut into tablespoons
  • 1 cup heavy cream—room temperature
  • 1½ - 1¾ tsp. table salt
Salted Caramel Frosting
  • 2 (8 oz.) blocks cream cheese—softened
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter—softened
  • 1 cup salted caramel sauce
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
Chocolate Ganache
  • ¾ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup heavy cream
Candied Pecans
  • 1 cup of pecan pieces
  • 1 tbsp. + 1½ tsp. brown sugar
  • 1½ tsp. water
  • ⅛ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
Instructions
For the pumpkin cakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans, brush the melted butter all around the pans and then quickly line each pan with a round of parchment paper on the bottom + a strip of parchment paper around the sides of the pan. Tip: Sit one of the cake pans on top of the parchment paper and trace around the bottom of the pan to draw a circle. Cut out the circle of parchment. Repeat to make the second round of parchment. For the sides of the pans, cut two 2-inch wide strips of parchment paper long enough to go around the sides of the pans.
  3. Carefully brush more melted butter on the parchment paper and coat the pans with flour. To coat, gently shake each pan and roll it from side to side to lightly coat the entire pan. Shake out any excess flour. Tip: You can add some pumpkin pie spice to the flour before coating the pans, so that the flour mixture matches the color of the cakes better.
  4. To a medium-sized bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, nutmeg, and cloves. Whisk to combined and set aside
  5. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flex edge beater (or flat paddle), add the brown sugar and eggs. Beat on medium until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the oil and mix on medium until incorporated. Add the pumpkin puree and mix on medium until well combined. Alternate adding the milk and dry ingredients, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula and mix again. Evenly divide the cake batter between the two pans (both of mine were just about half full).
  6. Bake for 37 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 20 minutes. Very carefully remove the cakes from the pans, peel off the parchment paper, and place the cakes onto two separate plates to cool completely. Tip: Place a plate face-down right on top of each cake pan and then carefully flip so that the cake pan is face-down on the plate. The cake should fall right out. Remove the parchment paper from the sides and bottom. Place a separate plate face-down right on top of the cake and flip so that the cake ends up right-side up on the other plate.
For the salted caramel sauce
  1. Have everything ready within reach, as this is a quick process. Add the sugar to a large non-stick pot set over medium-high heat. Whisk until the sugar melts—there will be clumps, but just keep whisking. Once melted, stop whisking. Let the sugar cook, deepening in color, about 8 minutes (keep an eye on the color, not so much the time). Swirl the pot every so often as the sugar cooks. Once the caramel is a deep amber color, add the butter and whisk continuously until melted—be very careful as the caramel will bubble violently. Reduce the heat a bit. Then slowly add the heavy cream while whisking continuously (again, be careful). Whisk in the salt and remove from heat. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before transferring to a mason jar, or other container.
For the salted caramel cream cheese frosting
  1. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flex edge beater (or flat paddle), add the softened cream cheese and butter. Mix on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of caramel sauce and mix on medium until fully incorporated. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition (increase the speed slowly, as the sugar will poof right out of the bowl). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue mixing on medium until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Transfer the frosting to the refrigerator to firm up a bit.
For the chocolate ganache
  1. Add the chocolate chips to a small bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a small pot set over medium-low heat, until just boiling. Once heated, add the cream to the chocolate chips and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Whisk until smooth and glossy.
For the candied pecans
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, water, vanilla, and salt.
  2. Add the pecans to a pot set over medium heat and toast until fragrant, tossing every so often, about 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and add the brown sugar mixture to the pot. Mix continuously and let cook for about 15-30 seconds. Remove from heat and spread the pecans onto a sheet of parchment paper to cool.
  4. Once cool, roughly chop about a ½ cup of pecans (for decorating the bottom portion of the cake).
To assemble + frost the cake
  1. Once the cakes have cooled, carefully use a serrated knife to cut each cake evenly in half. You’ll have two top cake layers and two bottom cake layers. If the top cake layers are slightly uneven or too domed, even them up by trimming some of the cake off the top.
  2. Place a bottom layer cut-side up on your serving platter or plate. Gently spread a ¼ cup of chocolate ganache on the cake layer. Place the cake in the refrigerator for a few minutes to quickly dry the ganache. Then add 1 cup of frosting on top of the ganache and carefully spread it around the entire layer. The two top cake layers will be used for the two middle layers of the cake. Add one of the top cake layers onto the first frosted layer and repeat the steps—ganache, dry in fridge, frosting. Then repeat one more time with the remaining top cake layer. The last layer of cake should be the second bottom layer. Place the bottom layer cut-side down and spread the remaining ¼ cup of chocolate ganache on top. Let the ganache dry in the fridge one last time. Then frost the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting and place it in the fridge to firm up a bit (this is a crumb coating). Finally, use the remaining frosting to frost the entire cake.
To decorate the cake
  1. Take the ½ cup of roughly chopped pecans and carefully spread them around the bottom inch or so of the cake.
  2. Gently spread the remaining ½ cup of pecan pieces to the top middle portion of the cake.
  3. Store cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve. I recommend letting the cake come to room temperature before serving.
Notes
1. The recipe for the Pumpkin Cakes is for two 8-inch round cakes. If you only have 9-inch round cake pans, use the pumpkin cake recipe from the Use Real Butter link below.

2. The recipe for the Salted Caramel Sauce makes 2+ cups of sauce, so you’ll definitely have some leftover. Go ahead, pour it over some ice cream, or dip some apples slices in it. :) Store it in the refrigerator, but heat it up in the microwave to soften it before using.

3. The Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting has a tendency to soften quickly, so make sure to place the cake in the refrigerator as needed to help keep it firm while assembling.

Sources
Pumpkin Cakes – Food & Wine
Salted Caramel Sauce – Brown-Eyed Baker
Chocolate Ganache + Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting – Use Real Butter
Candied Pecans – Two Healthy Kitchens

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