This is not your ordinary Pumpkin Cake! I created an adult Halloween Cake with layers of pumpkin date sponge and chocolate bourbon buttercream. That’s right, while the kids are devouring candy, the adults can enjoy a slice of black and orange delight.
Let’s talk flavors next. Obviously there is pumpkin and chopped dates, but I also incorporated hazelnut flour for some nuttiness. Paired with dark chocolate cocoa powder and smooth bourbon, this is a cake you enjoy by the fire while savoring every last bite. Topping with hazelnut chunks and shards of chocolate, was my attempt to mimic a spooky forrest. I dunno, what do you think?
What is Hazelnut Flour?
Hazelnut flour is made by blending down whole peeled hazelnuts into a fine powder or chunkier meal texture. This flour is used to add a rich nutty flour to baked goods. A gluten free flour that does well when paired with wheat flour for most bakes. To create an all hazelnut flour recipe, check your accompanying ingredients to ensure a rise in your bakes.
Why Bake with Dates?
Dried dates add a sweet profile to your cake. Make sure the pits are removed before chopping. I like to think, if a fig and a prune had a baby it would be the date. You don’t see them paired with pumpkin that often, but I’m telling you its delicious! For this recipe I am using medjool dates that have a strong caramel flavor. Hello!! Caramel goes great with pumpkin and dark chocolate. Now you’re seeing the method to the sweet tooth madness.
Tips for Making Halloween Pumpkin Cake:
- Use three 6 inch pans or two 8 inch pans.
- Grease bottom and sides of cake pans, then line with parchment paper. This makes cake layer removal so much easier!
- Cream your butter and sugar together before adding other ingredients.
- Use room temperature butter.
- If you don’t like dates, swap them out for dried figs or raisins. Make sure to use dried fruit, since wet will change the consistency of the cake batter.
- Once your cake layers are cool remove from pans, wrap in plastic, and place in the freezer for 45 mim-1 hr.
- You can trim the top of a lightly frozen cake layer much easier than a warm one. This also prevents lots of crumbs mixing in your buttercream while frosting.
- Make your buttercream while your cake layers are in the freezer.
- Always use room temperature butter when making your chocolate buttercream frosting.
- Place a dollop of buttercream on your cake dish before placing your first layer down.
- Be sure to remove your parchment paper:)
- Use a piping bag or spatula to cover first cake layer with frosting.
- Set second cake layer down and repeat.
- Top layer should be place upside down, for a level top surface.
- Cover entire cake with buttercream and use a bench scraper to smooth the top and sides.
- Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.
How to Make Chocolate Shards:
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Melt 1-2 cups dark chocolate in a double boiler or in a microwave safe bowl.
- For the microwave, melt your chocolate 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between until liquid.
- Pour melted chocolate onto parchment paper.
- Allow to cool at room temperature until hard.
- If you are rushed for time, just place your tray in the fridge or freezer until hard.
- Break chocolate with hands into long jagged shards.
- Gently stick chocolate shards upright into the top layer of buttercream to mimic trees.
Chocolate Bourbon Pumpkin Cake
- 2 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 3/4 Cup Hazelnut Flour
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 2 tsp Cinnamon Powder
- 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
- 1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 Cup Unsalted Butter room temperature
- 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
- 4 Eggs
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 15 oz Can of Pumpkin Puree, (425 g)
- 1/3 Cup Chopped Medjool Dates
Chocolate Bourbon Buttercream
- 2 Cups 460g Unsalted Butter, room temperature
- 5-6 Cups 420g Powdered Sugar
- 3/5 cup Extra Dark Cocoa Powder
- 6 Tbsp Almond Milk
- 4 Tbsp Bourbon
- 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 Cups Chocolate Chunks
- 1 Cup Chopped Hazelnuts
- Preheat Oven to 350 F (190 C) and prepare three 6 inch cake pans.
- In a medium bowl, hand whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
- In bowl of stand mixer with whisk or paddle attachment, beat together sugars and butter on medium high speed until smooth.
- Add one egg at a time, continuing on medium speed until incorporated and mixture is fluffy.
- You may need to scrape sides and bottom of the bowl periodically to make sure all ingredients are well mixed.
- Add vanilla and pumpkin puree. Mix until incorporated.
- Slowly spoon flour mixture into wet mixture, continuing on medium speed until a smooth batter is formed.
- Remove bowl from stand mixer and fold in chopped dates with a spatula.
- Spoon batter into cake pans, dividing evenly amongst all three. (I prefer to weigh my batter with a kitchen scale to be exact.)
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- (Bake on low to middle rack. I check each cake individually. )
- Once cake are done, place on cooling rack for 10-15 minutes.
- Next, place your hand on top of cake and flip upside down, to release cake from pan. (You can also fo this with a plate.)
- Wrap each layer in plastic wrap gently and place in freezer for 45 minutes.
Make your Chocolate Bourbon Buttercream
- In bowl of stand mixer with whisk attachment whip butter at medium high until smooth.
- Add chocolate powder, salt, bourbon, vanilla and almond milk and whip again until creamy.
- Slowly spoon a cup of powdered sugar at a time into the mixture. Make sure each cup is well mixed before adding the second. (Again, you may need to scrape sides and bottom of bowl.)
- If you find your mixture is too thick add more almond milk a Tbsp at a time.
- If you find your mixture is too thin, add more powdered sugar, mixing until desired thickness is reached.
- Remove layers from freezer.
- Unwrap and Peel the parchment paper from the bottom and set layers face up on counter.
- Take serrated knife and trip the tops of each layer, just enough to create a level surface.
- Grab your cake stand or serving dish and dollup a half dollar size of buttercream frosting onto the center.
- Place one layer onto cake stand, trimmed side up.
- Spoon and smear a layer of chocolate buttercream across the top. Slightly going over the edges.
- Repeat with second layer.
- Add top layer of cake trimmed side down. Cover with chocolate buttercream.
- Using an icing spatula or piping bag, fill in open sides with additional frosting.
- Then, take a bench scraper in one hand, while holding the cake stand in the other. Gently rotate the cake as you scrape the sides with an angled bench scraper.
- Place cake in refrigerator to set icing before decorating.
- While cake is setting, melt your chocolate morsels and pour onto parchment lined cookie sheet. (see post for tips!)
- Set chocolate in fridge or freezer to harden.
- Once chocolate is hard, break into shards with hands.
- Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts onto the top of the cake.
- Insert chocolate shards gently into icing.