Ta-da! Today I'm sharing the cake I made for the annual clambake we go to (in its 19th year!) and always hosted on Labor Day weekend. This is a must go to affair that is a great way to end the summer. Our hosts prepare the main course (clam chowder, steamed clams, chicken, sweet potatoes, sweet corn and a fun drink called River Madness). The guests are asked to bring dessert or additional beverages. I'm always signed up for desserts and each year I try to come up with something new that steps up my game!
This cake - I'm also calling Death by Deb (or maybe Death of Deb). I'll explain... the cake turned out fine, the ganache and caramel frosting turned out fine... the assembly gave me grief! The cake is 3 layers and as I was assembling them, it was going well until I got to the top layer - it cracked in half and looked like an earthquake was occurring; each half heading off the sides! Luckily the DIY guy was around and we managed to hold it together and get it refrigerated for a bit so it stopped sliding and the ganache set up... still had a crack but was able to spackle it with more ganache - having a handy man around sure helped!
The cake was a big hit along with the two other desserts - a raspberry cream pie and key lime pie. Though I may have 'topped' out on this one.... I have no idea how I can step it up next year but I'm sure I will try. I love a good challenge!
Chocolate Pumpkin Delight Cake
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (serves 8-10)
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (grated fresh)
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 1/4 stick unsalted butter (soft)
- 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar (packed)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 1 lb cream cheese softened
- 2 oz unsalted butter softened
- 8 oz. caramel sauce
- 4 cups confectioners sugar
- 7 oz dark chocolate bar chopped
- 8 oz heavy cream
- about 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans and/or walnuts
- whole halved pecans
InstructionsFor the cake
1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter (3) 8" pans and then line each with parchment paper that is also lightly buttered (please note you will have extra batter so you can make cupcakes or make a fourth layer to use another time)
2. Sift the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg) and set aside. In another bowl combine the pumpkin, buttermilk and vanilla. In a large bowl or mixer, beat the sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Lastly alternate adding the dry ingredients with the pumpkin mixture blending well after each addition.
3. Place batter in the pans about 3/4 full (remember you will have extra). Bake until a toothpick comes out clean - about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes then remove and cool on racks. I found the cake did not need to be trimmed on the top - they came out flat but if yours are domed be sure to trim off.For the frosting
1. Beat the soft butter and cream cheese then add caramel sauce. Mix well then add in confectioners sugar a bit at a time and mix well. I placed mine in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to set up a bitFor the ganache
1. Place chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat heavy cream until it simmers then pour over chocolate. Let it sit for a few minutes then stir to combine until smooth.To assemble
Place one cake layer on a serving dish (place pieces of wax paper tucked around cake) and top with about 1/3 of ganache. Let it set up a bit (but do not let the rest of the mixture get hard - kind of tricky). Top with about 1/4 of the caramel frosting... repeat layers ending with ganache only. Let this set up in the refrigerator. Your sides will look bad but you fix it later! Lastly frost the sides of the cake with the caramel frosting. Take handfuls of chopped nuts and press on side of cake... start with a handful at bottom of cake and press upwards. Place halved pecans on top of cake... I saved a bit of ganache to glue them in place. Remove the wax paper around bottom of cake. Keep this in the refrigerator covered.
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The yummy clams - are you a fan? The first year I ate (tried) 4 and now I am up to 2 dozen!
MJ has a pretty flower garden--- see if you can spot a visitor in the last picture
Thanks David and MJ for another successful clambake!