Two layers of chocolate cake, two layers of pumpkin spice cake, and lots of chocolate buttercream. . .If you love the combination of chocolate, pumpkin, and warming spices then you’ll go crazy for this chocolate pumpkin cake!
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of those links I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you. For the full disclosure,see here.
It’s my first pumpkin post of 2018!!!! Cue a billion exclamation points!!!!!!
Even though there’s no cheesecake involved in this chocolate pumpkin cake, I couldn’t be more excited. (Note to self: find a way to make this into a cheesecake cake for next year.)
How is your September going? Are you ready for pumpkin or not so much? It’s still in the 100s here so I’m not really feeling fall yet but I’m doing my best to hurry Mother Nature along; I really want to wear boots without sweating my face off.
And if anything could convince her to bring us some colder weather I think it’s this chocolate pumpkin cake! Two layers of plain pumpkin spice cake, two layers of pumpkin chocolate cake, and a whole lotta chocolate buttercream.
If you love warming spices and the flavors of fall (and chocolate!) then you’re gonna love this one!
Why you’ll love this chocolate pumpkin cake:
- You don’t need a stand mixer to make it!
- The chocolate layer is really just pumpkin cake batter with cocoa powder added—you don’t have to make two different cakes
- The cake is flavored with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg so every bite tastes like fall
How to make chocolate pumpkin cake
Start by combining your wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then beat with an electric mixer until very smooth.
Fold the dry ingredients (EXCEPT COCOA POWDER!) in with a rubber spatula until incorporated. Pour half of the cake batter into an 8-inch round cake pan.
Sift the cocoa powder over the remaining cake batter and add 3 tablespoons of whole milk. Fold the cocoa powder and milk into the batter, then pour the batter into a second 8-inch round pan.
Baker’s tip: Cocoa powder tends to clump together and leave little pockets of bitterness if it isn’t mixed into the batter well. Because you’ve already added the flour, you want to mix the batter as little as possible so your cake remains light and fluffy. Therefore, be sure you sift the cocoa powder into the batter as specified in the recipe! This will prevent clumps in your cake.
Bake for about 35 minutes, then cool your cake layers before frosting them.
How to make chocolate buttercream
This chocolate buttercream is really easy to make, and it’s so chocolate-y and delicious!
Start by beating your room temperature butter until it’s very creamy. Some frosting recipes call for cold butter but I never think it mixes as well as room temp butter; leave your butter on the counter for about 30 minutes and you should be fine.
Add cocoa powder, powdered sugar, milk, and salt and beat until very smooth. I don’t find it necessary to sift frosting ingredients because I’m going to beat the heck out of it anyway, but if your cocoa powder or powdered sugar is especially lumpy you can sift it before you add it to the butter. And that’s it! You’re ready to assemble your cake!
How to assemble your cake
The first thing you have to do to assemble your chocolate pumpkin cake is split the layers horizontally.
You need a long serrated knife for this and I realize as I’m writing that I didn’t get pictures of how I do this but here’s a really helpful video from Martha Stewart if you want a visual. Someday I’ll get pics of my process!
In the video she says to use chilled cake layers but that’s only necessary if your layers crumble when you try to cut into them. This cake doesn’t crumble for me; just be sure your layers are fully cooled and you should be fine.
Set one chocolate layer on a cardboard cake circle or a cake stand and spread frosting over the top. I love an offset spatula for frosting in between cake layers but use what you’re comfortable with.
Top with a pumpkin layer and more frosting. Repeat this process until you’ve used all the layers, then frost your cake and decorate as desired.
I used candy pumpkins to decorate my cake but chocolate truffles would be fun and so would candy corn or even walnuts pressed into the sides. A little crunch in a cake is never a bad thing in my book!
This chocolate pumpkin cake is crazy delicious and I hope you get a chance to try it sometime soon. It’s the best excuse I know to buy pumpkin candies! Just sayin’ 🙂
Did you make this chocolate pumpkin cake? That’s awesome! Let me know what you think with a comment and a rating below. And post a pic on Instagram too! Tag @theitsybitsykitchen so I can see your creations!
This chocolate pumpkin cake features chocolate and pumpkin cake layers, chocolate buttercream, and lots of warming fall spices.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree NOT pumpkin pie filling
- 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
- 5 1/2 to 6 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 6 to 10 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- candy pumpkins for garnish if desired
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 8-inch round cakes pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment and spray the parchment with cooking spray Lightly dust with flour and set aside.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices together in a medium mixing bowl.
- In another large mixing bowl, combine the oil, eggs, sugars, pumpkin, sour cream, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer set to medium speed until smooth.
- Use a rubber spatula to fold the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture until smooth. Pour half of the batter into one of the prepared pans and set aside.
- Sift the cocoa powder over the remaining pumpkin batter and add the whole milk. Fold the cocoa powder into the cake batter until incorporated and pour into the second pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool for 20 minutes in the pan, then carefully invert onto a wire rack to cool completely before assembling your cake.
- Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
- With mixer on low, gradually beat in 5 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar, the cocoa powder, 6 tablespoons milk, and the salt. Turn mixer to medium and beat until well combined, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- If frosting is too thin, add additional powdered sugar; it it’s too thick add additional milk.
- Use a long serrated knife to split each cake layer into two layers.
- Set one of the chocolate cake layers on a cardboard cake circle or a cake stand and spread an even layer of frosting over the top. Top with a pumpkin layer and more frosting. Continue like this until you’ve used all the cake layers.
- Use the remaining frosting to frost the cake. Decorate as desired and serve.
If you have trouble splitting your cake layers in half horizontally, try chilling them for a few hours.
To bring your butter to room temp for the frosting, leave it out on the counter for 30 minutes; that should be plenty of time.
Cake layers adapted from How to Bake Everything