Chocolate Pumpkin Layer Cake for a Halloween #HolidayFoodParty

Another holiday, another excuse to get together with my best foodie friends and bake! This is the same fabulous group with whom I made this chocolate Bailey’s mousse tart for St. Paddy’s Day and my Mexican hot chocolate cupcakes for Cinco de Mayo. Today, we’re celebrating Halloween early to give you some spookily delicious inspiration.

I always have, always will.

It helps that the Husband and I believe in spirits, ghosts, the supernatural, etc, so we love being scared and are easily spooked. My people are incredibly superstitious.  We never talk about ghosts in public because there, you’re more vulnerable.  They hide in dark places and can follow you home. For reals.
In high school, Soul Sista and I thought it would be a hoot to play with a ouija board one dark night with her siblings. As skeptical as I was, it wasn’t hard to be freaked out by what we were doing. We allegedly contacted a spirit, one whose name I shall not repeat for the following reason.

I was driving home with the Husband a few years ago and I brought up the fact that I had played with a ouija board.  I told him that a spirit spoke to us and when I said his name out loud, we heard a loud thump.  I can’t even describe what it sounded like.  We didn’t go over a bump, it was really late at night and we were driving on a smooth road.  The thump was really really loud and it came at the exact time I said the spirit’s name.  We were scared out of our minds and the Husband told me to stop talking about it immediately.
We visit Seattle quite often and we always stay in the same boutique hotel. The last time we were there, they offered us an upgrade and of course we said yes.  The Husband didn’t tell me this until the next morning but he said as soon as he walked into the room, he didn’t like how it felt.  There was something really odd about it.  The layout wasn’t right. The placement of the items in the room, such as the proximity of the t.v. to the bed, was very strange.  I, being oblivious as usual, didn’t notice anything.  But that night, at around 3 a.m., the Husband woke me up and said “the t.v.’s on.”  I looked over and the screen was filled with static. The Chinese say  3 a.m. is when spirits are the strongest. (pardon my French).  It’d be one thing if the t.v. were on the hotel welcome screen that you see when you first enter your room.  But no.  It was on that scary ass snowy static-y screen that you’d see in horror movies right before a ghost child (the scariest kind of ghost) starts climbing out of a well and out of the t.v.

Gah, I’m getting skeered just thinking about it!

Let’s focus on this incredible round-up of Halloween treats to cleanse our mental palates. I’m bringing you a chocolate cake filled with pumpkin pastry cream and frosted with a maple bourbon buttercream.
For the chocolate cake, I used my favourite recipe. You only use two bowls, no mixer required, it’s so easy to make and it’s no-fail.

My Favourite Chocolate Cake

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot brewed coffee
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour whatever pan you plan on using (I used 3 8″ round cake pans).

In a bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients and mix. Create a well in the centre and add all the rest of the ingredients except coffee.

Mix well until combined and then add the hot coffee. Mix once again. The batter will be very runny.

Pour the batter into your greased pans and bake in the middle rack in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out just clean.

Cool on a wire rack in the pans for about 15 minutes then turn out onto the wire rack to cool completely.
Pumpkin Pastry Cream (adapted from

NOTE: I doubled the recipe and made about 3 cups of pastry cream. The recipe as written below will yield about 1 1/2 cups.

1 cup whole milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, pumpkin puree, sugar, flour, spices and cornstarch until the mixture is completely smooth.

In a small saucepan, warm the milk over low heat until it’s hot. Once the milk is steaming, add half of it to the pumpkin mix, whisking constantly. Add the milk and pumpkin back into the small saucepan with the remainder of the hot milk, whisking continuously (get into the corners of the pot!), and heat it for 3-4 minutes, until the custard becomes very thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. You can put the pastry cream through a sieve if there are any lumps. Chill the pumpkin pastry cream before using it.
Maple Bourbon Buttercream

I kinda played this one by ear. Put 2 cups room temperature unsalted butter into a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix until light and fluffy. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1/4 cup of maple syrup and 1/4 cup of bourbon. Mix until thoroughly combined. Taste as you go along. If you want it sweeter, add more powdered sugar. I personally don’t like my frostings too sweet so I don’t add too much. It makes the consistency of the frosting harder after it’s been chilled but I don’t mind.
Chocolate and pumpkin are a dream together. This cake is dark, rich, fluffy and moist, with a bitter edge due to the coffee. The pastry cream is super smooth and luscious. I actually think the spices are a bit muted and would put more in next time but that’s just my taste. The pumpkin flavour came through beautifully. The buttercream with its subtle sweetness rounds everything out.

Make sure to visit all of my friends and drool over their delicious offerings. Thanks once again to our fearless leader, Jen of Jen’s Favorite Cookies for getting us gals together again.

1. Butterfinger Bark from Jen’s Favorite Cookies

2. Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cut-Out Cookies from Created by Diane

3. Chocolate Crepes with Pumpkin Butter Filling and Spiced Maple Pecan Syrup from Pineapple and Coconut

4. Vampire Delight Martini from Magnolia Days

5. Pumpkin Spice Kiss Cookie Cups from Chocolate Moosey

6. Rice Krispie Candy Corn from That Skinny Chick Can Bake

7. Chocolate Peanut Butter Puppy Chow from The Messy Baker

8. Homemade Sour Patch Kids from What Smells So Good

9. Reese’s PB&C Pretzel Crust Pie from Hungry Couple NYC

10. Chocolate Pumpkin Layer Cake from Gotta Get Baked

11. Pumpkin Rice Krispie Treats from Girl in the Little Red Kitchen

12. Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Brownies from Crumb Blog

13. Pumpkin Pie Fudge from Juanita’s Cocina

52 thoughts on “Chocolate Pumpkin Layer Cake for a Halloween #HolidayFoodParty

  1. Oh, my gosh, Nancy! This is one magnificent cake!!! I think I could eat bowls of your pastry creams…YUM! And you’ve sent a chill down my spine with your spooky experiences. We had one shortly after Bill’s dad died…he was telling us he was OK by placing his long lost college ring on the back walk on my in-laws house. I believe!!!

  2. NANCY. THIS IS MY DREAM CAKE. I want to live with you and eat all the magical things you bake. Seriously, your blog is just like drool drool drool all the time. And omg you are so funny. I’ve never played with a Ouija board but they sound so freaky!! And the hotel incident sounds seriously creepy. So one Halloween, my friend and I were following her GPS to this beignet place (we are fatties) and it kept taking us farther and farther away from the neighborhoods we knew (not to mention most of the city lights) until we ended up in the dark neighborhood in front of this dilapidated old house and the GPS was all, “you have arrived at your destination.” We started screaming and drove far, far away. Super creepy!

  3. I totally believe in benign ghosts but perhaps because that’s the only kind I’ve come across. When we moved into our old house in Houston, many moons ago, someone kept turning the stereo on. Suddenly, day or night, there was music. And that sucker was turned OFF, I swear. Finally I had to start turning the volume knob down. Apparently the ghost knew how to operate the “on” switch but not the volume because I would often come down in the morning to see that the stereo was still being turned on. But at least it stopped waking me up in the middle of the night.

    But enough scary stories. Let’s talk about this gorgeous cake that is so delightful it would ward off the most horrible of spirits. It’s beautiful, Nancy!

  4. You just sent shivers up my spine!! Thank goodness I didn’t read this in the dark!
    That cook looks amazing- the chocolate part looks so moist and good!! I love adding a bit of coffee to my chocolate cakes, too, it brings out the flavor so well. Be careful this Halloween!!

  5. Okay… too freaky about the TV and the room and ouija board and all. Glad those eerie creatures only spooked you and not more. Oh, and it may sound crazy but I love that doily or plate under the cake. The pattern is so pretty! Anyway, you certainly can bake and what a wonderful cake for Halloween!

  6. I cannot ever stay in a hotel like that. I’m freaked the fuck out just thinking about it. But this cake would make me feel better…hint…hint…

  7. So gorgeous, Nancy. That pumpkin filling is so thick and so dreamy. It’s just the most perfect color for Halloween. You make the prettiest cakes! I love to hear stories like that and I think it’s so perfect to post with your Halloween cake. I would’ve been freaked and switched hotels:))

  8. Wow both ghost stories are crazy! I’ve played with the Ouija board a few times. Then a few friends and I stayed at the 5th haunted inn in the country in Gettysburg. My one friend got a picture of what looks like a ghost in the mirror! Anyway, about this cake. It almost looks black, just for Halloween! I bet you planned that 😉

  9. First of all, that would have freaked me the fug out too! As I imagined it happening, I got chills :-/ I live in an Asian household so sadly some of their superstition has rubbed off on me.

    Oh and missy, I think you need to check your eyes because I see perfectly crisp edges on your cake! So I don’t know what you’re talking about LOL. And where did you get those cute little skulls? They’re adorable!

  10. That cake looks freaking amazing. Maple Bourbon buttercream?!? Speaking my language!! Ok, so I totally believe in ghosts too. I have been to many haunted places and when I used to live in Colorado there was a bar in Breckenridge we always went to called The Brown. It was an old haunted house and it was freaky as hell. We would often see something sitting at the top of the stairs and it would run away whenever anyone walked by the base of the stairs. The employees would tell stories of anything from lights flickering to glasses being rearranged in the am. All kinds of crazy stuff. Anyway I want to know what happened after you guys discovered the TV on at 3 am? You left us hanging!!!!

  11. Oh Nancy! You scared the poop out of me reading those stories!!! I just said a prayer, lol! Thank God you ended it with this amazing cake! Seriously, I’m dying over the rich chocolate layers and that maple buttercream!!!! I bet it’s fantastic. So beautiful…even next to the skeletons hahaha! 🙂

  12. You know what scares the pants off me? Layered cakes. No lie. No matter how hard I try, they always come out all lopsided and badly frosted. 😛
    I may have to conquer my fear for this cake, though, because it looks amazing. I love me some pumpkin and chocolate together!

  13. Oh Nancy, all that spooky talk literally gave me goosebumps! I’m so glad my hubby doesn’t buy into that sorta thing because I’d totally get freaked OUT if he didn’t tell me I was just being ridiculous 😉 I love the flavor combo in this cake, and your photos are killer! Awesome props!

  14. Nancy, I LOVE this. It’s so inventive, I would have never thought to combine chocolate cake and pumpkin pastry cream. I’m still stuck at pumpkin cheesecake swirls over here. Amazing — and fantastic collection of props too.

    Hahaha, and I love that yall are superstitious. I am the. biggest. scaredy cat. in the WORLD. In the world. I tried to read The Stand by Stephen King (not even SCARY!) in high school and burst into tears in the first chapter and had to put it down. True facts. I’m with you on not speaking that spirit’s name ever again (and that TV story is terrifying!!!!)

  15. ” two bowls, no mixer required, it’s so easy to make and it’s no-fail” – I love that. My kind of choc cake. My fave choc cake recipe is very similar, also uses coffee and it’s a one bowl special, actually…haha! The pumpkin pastry cream sounds incredible! Pinned!

  16. That is so freaky!!! I’ve never had any scary moments like that, but I did play with a ouija board once and it creeped me out! Also, I refused to play “Bloody Mary” throughout all of my childhood because I was convinced I would see something. Even a pretty rational 23-year-old, I think I’d still be afraid to try it!

    This cake looks delicious!!

  17. Nancy! This cake is a-freaking-mazing! Gorgeous, all those colorful layers and that buttercream. Well that buttercream along, I’d like to go sit in a corner and eat it by myself. shhh don’t tell. So you kind of creeped me out with your story too but it also reminds me of all the creepy things we used to do as kids at friends sleepovers. Play ouji board (are you pushing it, no I’m not?!), going in the bathroom in the dark and saying bloody mary 3 times and then the levitation game when someone lays down and you life them with just your two fingers. Oh, us kids but your story well yeah, freaky.

  18. I love food blogs and just found you and “Coking With Mr. C.” on Facebook. When I find one I like, I follow it. I will tell everyone to check you out and check out “Cooking With Mr. C.” on Facebook. I just “Liked” his page. Happy Holidays. Jean

  19. Oh Nancy, you’ve scared the heck out of me with your spooky stories!Especially the hotel room one.How scary is that!!Well looking at your decadent cake all scaries disappear and that buttercream frosting you’ve got going on is making me drool like crazy.Gorgeous!

  20. How did I miss this glorious cake? Oh my goodness maple syrup and bourbon in buttercream…With chocolate cake and pumpkin cream? Beyond!…I almost don’t want to comment about the other stuff…But I have heard the wee hours of morning are a time when good spirits can visit, too =)

  21. I got scared reading that!! I would never mess with the Ouija bored- eek! My Mumma has always told me that about 3am.

    Regardless this cake looks devine and I bet would taste it too 🙂 x

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