You know, I could swear that just last week everyone was talking about their Halloween costumes and making ghoulish treats for their Halloween parties. So, it’s kind of mind-blowing that Thanksgiving is only a week away. I’ve been fighting it for as long as I can, but the upcoming holiday + naked trees outside my window tell me that it is definitely fall, almost winter. Yikes! Where does the time go???
Pumpkin flavored treats are incredibly popular this time of year, so I was pretty stunned when Dan told me he’d never eaten anything with pumpkin in it. Not even pumpkin pie. Whhhhaaatttt? How is it possible to grow up having Thanksgiving dinner in America and not eat pumpkin pie? I mean, my family served duck feet and cow tongues for Thanksgiving, but even we ate pumpkin pie for dessert!
After Dan’s shocking admission, I was pretty happy to see that this month’s ingredients for the Improv Cooking Challenge – now being run by Kristen B from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker – were pumpkin and cream cheese. I absolutely love pumpkin flavored desserts with cream cheese frosting. It’s such a classic and delicious combination, and I couldn’t think of a better way to introduce Dan to the magical world of pumpkin flavored treats.
As excited as I was about the ingredients, it took me a long time to decide what I wanted to make for this month’s Cooking Challenge. I could make pumpkin muffins with a surprise cream cheese center…pumpkin donuts with a cream cheese glaze…or even pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese filling…There were just too many friggin’ options! I didn’t want to overwhelm Dan with pumpkin, though, so in the end I decided to go with something simple: a pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting. The cake was perfectly moist, subtly infused with pumpkin flavor, and fragrant with spices. The frosting, which I augmented with whipped cream ‘cuz I only had half a block of cream cheese in the fridge, was tangy, sweet, and both rich and light. This is definitely a winner, folks.
** Dan hasn’t had a chance to taste the final, frosted version of this cake yet, but he had a bite last night when I was trimming and leveling my cakes. He was pleasantly surprised by the light pumpkin flavor, and liked the spices. I know he’ll love it with the whipped cream cheese frosting!
Pumpkin Spice Cake with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
** This recipe makes 4 small cakes (4-inch springform pan), or 1 regular sized cake.
- 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 stick butter or margarine, softened
- 1-1/3 cups sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup mashed cooked or canned pumpkin
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
(1) Preheat oven to 400. Grease four 4-inch springform pans.
(2) In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
(3) Beat in eggs and vanilla.
(4) Add milk and mashed pumpkin, and stir until well-mixed.
** At this point, your batter will look curdled, but it’s not! It’ll look smoother once you add your dry ingredients.
(5) Stir in dry ingredients. Mix well.
(6) Divide batter equally between your mini springform pans.
(7) Bake for 25-30 min, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Cakes should have a high dome.
(8) Cool cakes for about 10 minutes, then remove them from their pans. Cool for another 15-20 minutes.
(9) While cakes are cooling, start making your frosting. In a medium bowl, beat your cream cheese until it is soft and fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla, mix well, then set aside.
(10) In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat your whipping cream. Beat until stiff/firm peaks form, about 1-2 minutes.
(11) Transfer about 1/3 of the whipped cream to your cream cheese mixture to lighten it. Gently mix until cream cheese and cream are totally combined. Add your remaining whipped cream, and gently stir until you have a uniform frosting.
(12) Level the tops of each cake, then cut them in half, horizontally.
(13) Spread whipped frosting on top of one half of each cake. Smooth frosting towards the edge of the cakes. Lay the other halves on top, and top with more frosting.
** You can frost the sides too, but I think it looks prettier with bare sides.
(14) Garnish cakes with chopped nuts, then enjoy!
**BTW, some of my recipes are being featured on a cool Thanksgiving mosaic. Check it out!
For other great recipe ideas, click here.
And, check out what the other Improv Challenge members made this month: