Rich chocolate cake is swirled with moist pumpkin cake and topped with chocolate cinnamon frosting for this showstopping dessert!
Guys, I am so excited to finally get to share this recipe with you. I made this cake for myself for my birthday, which was in July–not exactly pumpkin season. So I have been saving it until now. These pictures are probably my most favorite pictures of food that I have ever taken. I don’t even know if that sentence was grammatically correct. But I am just going to push forward and share this recipe with you ASAP, because you are going to LOVE it!
I love the flavors of my Chocolate Swirl Pumpkin bread SO much (seriously, the BEST bread ever) that I thought to myself, “Hey, I bet I could make a cake with these flavors and it would be amazing.” Then I just got carried away and made it four layers tall and added Chocolate Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting. And then I added flowers, but those are totally optional, and for decoration only 🙂
In order to make this epic cake, you will need to make batter for chocolate cake, and for pumpkin cake. For the chocolate cake, I used my recipe for Egg-free, Dairy-free Chocolate Cake. But you can use your favorite chocolate cake recipe instead if you like. I will share the pumpkin cake recipe I used with you below. It’s basically this Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Ganache recipe from Life’s Ambrosia. I tweaked it just a little bit.
Once you make the batter for both cakes, you’re going to need four round 9-inch cake pans. I only had two cake pans, so I borrowed two more from my neighbor 🙂 You can also just take turns baking things if you have the time and patience.
In the past, baking layer cakes has been a nerve-wracking experience because of the whole removing the cake from the pan thing. What if the bottom sticks? What if the cake breaks on the way out? Well, I found a foolproof way to extricate your cakes from their pans, entirely intact with nary a crumb sticking to the bottom.
Enter parchment paper! All you do is place your cake pan on top of some parchment paper, trace around the bottom, and then cut out the circle. Grease the cake pan (even the bottom). Then place your parchment paper inside. It will stick to the bottom. Then grease the top of the parchment paper as well, just for good measure.
Now you’re going to add your chocolate and pumpkin cake batters, alternating them. I used a half-cup measuring cup and added the batter a little at a time. (I used a separate cup for each type of batter). Now the consistency of your two cake batters might be quite different, depending on the recipes you use. In my case, my pumpkin cake batter was much thicker than my chocolate cake batter. Fortunately, it didn’t seem to matter in the final bake.
Were I thinking more clearly, I might have taken a knife and tried swirling the batters together a little bit instead of just leaving them like this. But it all worked out in the end. Here’s what the cakes looked like when they came out of the oven.
When you remove them from the oven, you just let them cool completely–probably an hour or longer. Then run a knife or spatula around the edges to loosen, and turn the cake over onto a cutting board or wire rack. It should just fall right out. Then you can peel the parchment paper off, and voila! Perfect cake!
At this point, I actually wrapped my cooled cakes up in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer overnight. You don’t have to do this, but it makes it easier to apply frosting if you do.
I had originally intended to cover the entire cake with frosting, but as I was adding frosting in between the layers, I thought it was kind of pretty to just let the edges show. Before you stack your cake layers, you can use a long knife to cut off the top domed part of each layer. I didn’t do this. I just filled the gaps in with a lot of frosting so that everything looked flat. I made sure that my top layer of cake was placed upside down so that the very top of the cake was flat.
Isn’t it so pretty? And here’s what it looks like inside:
This cake is so moist and dense. (I don’t happen to like light and fluffy cakes. I feel like I’m just eating sugary air. I like my cakes to have some substance and heft). You can cut yourself a nice big slice.
Then if it’s your birthday, you can eat the whole slab. But I highly suggest sharing with friends 🙂
Speaking of sharing, will you share this post on social media? That would be so awesome of you! I’ve even got three different pins for your to choose from for Pinterest! Just scroll down below the recipe and choose the one you like best. After that, you can make the cake 🙂 Here’s a handy video that shows you how!
- 3 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3/4 cup oil
- 2 Tbsp. vinegar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 cups hot water
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup softened butter
- 3 eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree 1 15 oz. can
- 1/4 cup milk
- 4 oz. softened cream cheese
- 1/2 cup softened butter
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 cup baking cocoa powder
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 3-4 Tbsp. milk
- Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Add the oil, vinegar and vanilla and stir. Mixture will be lumpy.
- Pour in the hot water and stir until the lumps are gone.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, being sure to scrape down the edges after adding each egg. Beat in the vanilla.
- Add 1 cup of the flour along with the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin spice. Mix well. Add 1/4 cup of milk and stir. Then add the remaining cup of flour and stir.
- Gently fold in the pumpkin puree.
- Beat the cream cheese and butter together with a stand or hand mixer. Add the vanilla and beat again.
- Add the cocoa powder, cinnamon, and 1 cup of powdered sugar. Beat slowly until the sugar is well-incorporated.
- Add the rest of the sugar in increments, beating well after each addition.
- Slowly add the milk a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
- Grease 4 round cake pans on the sides and bottom. Then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper and grease again.
- Add equal amounts of chocolate and pumpkin cake batter to the pans, alternating the chocolate and pumpkin batter. Gently swirl with a knife if desired.
- Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Let cakes cool completely. Then remove from the pans and take the parchment paper off the bottom.
- Level the cakes if desired. Stack the layers on top of one another with a generous amount of frosting between each layer.
parth rathod says
It looks very delicious, Would like to try, my kids will love it
thank you for sharing
La gringita chef says
For pumpkin cake, calls 1/4 cup of milk but don’t see it used in the ingredients?
Melissa Howell says
You’re right! I just put that in the instructions. Thanks for letting me know!
Julie Evink says
WOW!! This is not only a show stopper but those flavors are amazing!
Melissa Howell says
Thank you! And yes, the flavors are incredible together!
Danielle Green says
This looks absolutely too perfect to eat yet I’m ready to dig right in. The flowers make it even more beautiful!
Melissa Howell says
Thank you! I picked the flowers from a friend’s yard (with permission!) They really do make the cake look gorgeous!
This cake is so beautiful!!!!! Plus, I love the flavor combo you have!!!
Melissa Howell says
Valentina @ Valentina's Corner says
What a beautiful cake, Melissa. It’s almost too beautiful to eat. Great photography.. <3
Melissa Howell says
Thank you so much! These are some of my favorite food pictures ever!