This cake is absolutely glorious. Wonderfully glorious. Definitely one of my favorite things I’ve ever made because it’s amazing in terms of both taste (a perfectly moist blend of dark chocolate, spices, and pumpkin) and aesthetics.
I nicked this recipe from Frangrant Vanilla Cake (someone who I’ll probably be stealing loads more recipes from…red wine cake, anyone?). I made quite a few modifications for reasons of both cost and ingredient availability; I didn’t want to spend $10 on a thing of coconut oil and I couldn’t find maple extract (Dear loser—Publix, I hate you, I’ve aaalways hated you). I also cut out some of the spices because I thought chipotle powder in a cake would be a little bizarre (and because I am a complete sissy when it comes to spicy foods).
Anyhow, without further ado, here’s my modified version of Pumpkin Turtle Cake:
Spiced Pumpkin Dark Chocolate Cake:
3 cups flour
1 3/4 cup white sugar
½ + 2 Tsp cup maple syrup
3 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 canola oil
2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup coconut milk
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Dark Chocolate Frosting:
1 cup regular cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup dark cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup maple syrup
¼ cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp sea salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
2 Tbsp Earth balance butter
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp sea salt
12 oz pecans, toasted
(The original recipe also called for pumpkin seeds, which I would have used but the pumpkins seeds at Publix looked questionable at best (I hate you more than anything in this world-d-d-d-d-d! If you can find better quality pumpkin seeds, dooo it.)
Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl. In a different bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, coconut milk, oil, and vanilla extract and mix in with the dry ingredients. Then whisk in the apple cider vinegar until pale swirls form in the batter and it is well combined.
Divide the cake batter equally between two 9” cake pans. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until tester is inserted and comes out clean. Thank you, dear mother, for putting the cakes in the oven for me! This cake would not have gotten made without you. Well, it would have gotten made but ended up a wet goopy mess. (In all seriousness, I am very thankful because she did purchase the plethora of ingredients for this cake so it really would not have been made without her. Merci maman!)
While the cake is baking, go ahead and make the icing and the caramel. For the frosting, whisk all the ingredients together until smooth. Add more cocoa powder to thicken the frosting or milk to thin it.
My caramel turned out a bit wonky. It didn't end up thickening as much as I would have liked and it never turned a very deep amber color. However, it was still tasty, so it sufficed.
To make the wonky caramel, bring the sugar, agave nectar, and water to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes (until deep amber) swirling the pan every so often to assure even heating. Remove from heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients (carefully, because the mixture will bubble). Set aside and let cool (the mixture should thicken as it cools...ha).
To toast the pecans, spread them over a cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 350 for about 5 minutes or until “aromatic” (basically, until it starts to smell nice). Careful that you don’t let cook too long, because they will scorch.
After the cakes have completely cooled, cut in them in half by turn them over onto a plate lined with parchment paper and cutting through them with a long serrated knife. Do this as slowly as you need to--if you go to quickly your cake layers could end up super uneven.
Place the first layer of cake on a plate and cover with a thin layer of frosting and caramel. Repeat with the following layers (I also crushed about half of the toasted pecans and added them to the middle layer).
Once you have assembled all the layers, cover the entire cake with the rest of the icing and caramel, letting the caramel drizzle over the sides. Decorate the top of the cake with the other half of the pecans.