SRC: Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

by Holly on September 12, 2011

OK. Please bear with me because not only did I go picture crazy with this post, but there is one whopping heck of a lot of recipes at the bottom. This is a post of mammoth proportions, but I promise, it’s worth it!

Seriously though, I very, very rarely do something fancy in the decorating department and I was so ridiculously happy with how this turned out that I can’t seem to help myself, so I hope you don’t mind too much!

For this month’s Secret Recipe Club I received Ms. Amanda herself – that’s right! Our intrepid founder and fabulous hostess! I was super excited because I’ve had several of her recipes bookmarked for a while (seriously, I want to eat the entire pan of this!). Aside from her recipes though, she is an incredibly crafty lady… and, I have to admit, though I’ve probably never ‘fessed up to this here, I have TOTAL craft envy. I want to be crafty – but I’m just not. I try, but it rarely goes the way I want it to and I generally don’t come up with very original ideas. (By the way, Amanda just redesigned and transferred her blog on over to WordPress and it looks completely darling, so if you haven’t seen it yet, you should go check it out!)

I decided, in honor of Amanda and all the hard work she does for us (and because she was recently orphaned in one of the month’s reveal dates and I felt like I needed to pull out all the stops here) that I would not only get my craftiness groove on (what there is of it) but that I would also dig through her archives and come up with something extra, extra special.

I then found this recipe for Amanda’s 4-Layer Chocolate Dappled Pumpkin Cake that she had had featured in Mixing Bowl magazine last Fall. So, for many reasons, plus adding in the fact that the Fall season is once again upon us, meant that this recipe had to be it my pick for the month – or at least my version of it since that is what the SRC is all about!

Of course, you know I never leave well enough alone, so I always have to fiddle around. A few more spices, a bit (okay, quite a bit) more chocolate, etc etc etc – you get the idea.

I decided that I wanted to take Amanda’s recipe and see if I couldn’t further gild an already lovely lily… or more appropriately in this case, gild the pumpkin. I wanted all my favorite Autumn flavors in one deluxe cake – pumpkin, spice, chocolate, caramel, cream cheese – it’s all here!

So.  I did. Literally. Gild the pumpkin, I mean. See below, there’s actual gilding on that little pumpkin. Cinderella herself would have been proud to call this cake her own. They were seriously so stinkin’ CUTE!

And!!! They were actually not hard to make. This is the part where I got my crafty on.

white chocolate pumpkin gilded with gold luster dust or pearl dust

These little darling pumpkins – and they are little, only about the size of a grape – are made out of white chocolate plastic – that is crafty for me, people. Seriously. I found the recipe for the white chocolate plastic here, because I’ve had these roses bookmarked FOREVER (seriously, since she posted them in 2008!). I still haven’t attempted them, because I decided to make pumpkins.

After all, I’m not sure if I can pull off rose petals (I will try some day… really, when I have lots of free time and no kids driving me crazy!), but I can roll little pieces of white chocolate plastic into balls, score them down the sides with the back of a butter knife, poke a hold in the top with a toothpick, insert a chocolate sprinkle and brush them with a little gold lustre dust with the best of ’em. Oh, yes. Yes, I can.

But still. This is Amanda we’re taking about here. The woman is CRAFTY – in ALL CAPS. She is a crafting power house AND a great cook and baker and friend. In fact, I’ve “known” Amanda through our blogs for years – pretty much since the beginning (for me) close to 4 years ago. And she is still there for me. This my friends, means a LOT to me. Especially with all the craziness and changes the last 4 years have wrought in my life.

So. Further gilding was called for. That is where the caramel corkscrew ‘vines’ on the pumpkins came in. I totally melted and burnt sugar – straight up – in a pan. In fact, it wasn’t as easy as I hoped, but it actually got easier with practice, and the beautiful thing is that if you miss the ‘sweet spot’ on the texture of the caramel to get the right twirl and consistency, you can just warm it again and keep trying. It was a lot more forgiving than I expected. I owe my success to Helen and also to this video tutorial. As Helen says, “do not fear the sugar!” It was fun and they really are so gorgeous!  I made the tiny ones using a bamboo skewer that I lightly sprayed with oil, and the bigger ones (below and in the hot chocolate picture I’ll talk about in a minute) using my knife sharpener as suggested in the video tutorial. Seriously, using the knife sharpener is ingenious – it just wants to slide right off – so easy!

Over the top cakeiness (I know, that’s not a word, but what’s a girl to do?) was also called for, so, in this case the cakeiness needed to be in not only 4-layer form like the original, but in cupcake form as well. Conveniently enough, with a few small tweaks to the original recipe, I was able to make exactly 12 cupcakes and one 4-layer 6-inch cake instead of the original 4-layer 9-inch cake Amanda made. I imagine (but haven’t tried, so let me know if you do) that you could get a full 24 cupcakes out of the recipe if you wanted to skip the layers all together.

The cake itself is a combination of pumpkin, lightly spiced, chocolate with more chocolate bits mixed in for that extra hit, moist and rich (but not too rich) cake. While Amanda originally used a whipped cream lightened chocolate cream cheese frosting for the filling  with more chocolate sprinkled in, I wanted to go a little crazy with the frosting and decided to go big and make a salted butter caramel sauce to beat in to the cream cheese along with some butter for a rich, sweet, salty caramel flavor. On top of that I wanted to do the chocolate layer like Amanda did, but I wanted to be able to drip it down the sides so it would kind of ‘drape’ down the frosting as shown in the magazine feature from Mixing Bowl.

Since as far as I’m concerned, pumpkin and caramel are totally Autumn flavors, it got me thinking again about my favorite crisp weather beverage – hot chocolate.  In fact, what I really, really love is the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix Recipe I came up with last year for the holidays. It is sooooo good!

And, seriously, at this point, I’ve gone so over the top any way, why not add some whipped cream and nice big caramel corkscrew. I was definitely in my fancy pants mode at this point, and taking no prisoners!

Besides, I maintain, Mommy is a MUCH nicer person when she’s had a cup of this hot chocolate in the morning. Really, it’s true. Add some cake to that and life is indeed pretty darn good.

So, my thanks to Amanda for creating the cake recipe in the first place and especially for creating the Secret Recipe Club so that I can be inspired and introduced to fabulous friends and bloggers each month (let’s face it, I just don’t get out much on my own, so it’s especially good for me!).

I really hope you’ll try this cake. It’s worth it. You don’t have to put your fancy pants on, but you may want to consider your stretchy ones because you are going to keep going back for more!

This cake may very well find it’s way to our Thanksgiving celebration in November. I think it would be a total show stopper and anyone who walks in with this beauty is going to look like a rock star. Just sayin’.

Thanks Amanda!


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