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Pumpkin-Chocolate Cake + Pumpkin Buttercream

I made three pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving this year but what I want to tell you about today is the pumpkin chocolate cake that didn’t even survive the weekend because it was so! good. I’m almost considering baking another one on this rainy, rather gloomy afternoon because I’ve been thinking about it ever since the last slice was consumed.

First things first: it’s been raining a bit here which has us all quite thrilled. Perhaps November is the rainy season – a year ago around Thanksgiving we had a big rain storm and the past few days it’s been more of the same. This morning we went out on the Wadi Trail and Sierra thoroughly soaked herself as she jumped barefooted into puddles. It was gorgeous and if only we’d had cake to satiate ourselves when we returned … which leads me to second things second: I split a case of organic pumpkin with a friend and the amount of pumpkin muffins, bread, pies, and cake coming out of my oven has been slightly out of control. Yet, ’tis the season yes? Pumpkin desserts are perfectly acceptable and welcome until at least Christmas in my opinion.

Pumpkin and chocolate is a lovely combination, lovelier still when they’re baked into a dense one-layer cake and enrobed in a rich – yet light! – pumpkin buttercream frosting. Initially I thought a cream cheese icing would be just the thing for this cake, but unfortunately cream cheese icing and I don’t get along too well and despite careful measuring and whipping the result was a gloppy mess. No matter. My philosophy is that you very, very rarely can go wrong with a buttercream and as I’m always partial to a not-too-sweet, lightly flavored buttercream frosting I quickly, though not without a pang at the wasted ingredients, tossed my failed icing and reached for the butter, the powdered sugar, a few seasonal spices, and the pumpkin puree.

Lest you think this will result in too much pumpkin flavor never fear: the cake is more of a hint o’ pumpkin, balanced by deep dark chocolate, and the buttercream has just enough warming spice mixed with pumpkin to taste deliciously of fall. In short, it’s my new November/Thanksgiving dessert and I plan to make it each year going forward, even if next year and for several of those following our seasons will be completely turned almost literally upside down. Still and all, we will experience real seasons again and we couldn’t be more excited that Australia will be our home base starting in, gulp, February. As in about two and a half months from now.

Pass the cake, please.

[print_this]Pumpkin Chocolate Cake with Pumpkin Buttercream

No doubt you could bake this in two 9-inch cake pans and double the frosting recipe to fill and frost it.

Makes 10 servings.

For cake
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup softened butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla

For frosting
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup pureed pumpkin
Generous pinch each: ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves (add more to your taste)
3-4 cups powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9-inch springform baking pan.

In a small bowl whisk together the pumpkin and buttermilk.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Place the butter, sugars, and vanilla in a large bowl and, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until light and fluffy.

Add in eggs one at a time and beat until fully incorporated.

Add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to the sugar mixture, alternating, and beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Continue beating on medium until incorporated.

Pour batter into the prepared pan, place in the oven, and bake for 35-45 minutes, until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven, place on a rack, and cool in pan for 15 minutes, then turn out to cool completely.

Place cake, wrapped in foil, in the fridge for at least an hour before frosting.

To make frosting, place the butter in a large bowl and beat on high until fluffy. Add the pureed pumpkin and beat to incorporate. Then add the sugar and beat until the frosting holds firm peaks.

Frost the top and sides of the chocolate cake with the buttercream.[/print_this]