Recipe Image

Pumpkin-Chocolate Cream Cake

  • 45 m
  • 5 h
Summer Miller
“This healthy cake recipe is like a pumpkin-flavored version of Boston cream pie. Rather than the traditional round shape, we use a 9-by-13 pan to make a four-layer rectangular cake that looks fun and provides more layers of creamy goodness.”

Ingredients

    • Cake
    • 1¼ cups whole-wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
    • ⅔ cup granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons, divided
    • ½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 5 large eggs, separated
    • ¼ cup buttermilk
    • ¼ cup strong coffee, cooled
    • ¼ cup canola oil
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
    • Pastry Cream
    • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
    • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk (reserved from Step 2)
    • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    • 1½ cups reduced-fat milk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • ⅛ teaspoon salt
    • ½ cup pumpkin puree
    • 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
    • Whipped Cream & Garnish
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
    • 1¼ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • ¼ cup pumpkin puree
    • ¼ cup toasted chopped pecans

Directions

  • 1 To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  • 2 Whisk flour, ⅔ cup granulated sugar, cocoa, baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Place 4 egg yolks in a medium bowl (reserve the remaining yolk for pastry cream, Step 5). Whisk in buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined.
  • 3 Place all the egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Add cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold one-third of the whites into the batter until no white streaks remain. Gently fold in the remaining whites, in two more additions, until just combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
  • 4 Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges. Place a piece of parchment on the rack and turn the cake out onto it. Let cool completely.
  • 5 To prepare pastry cream: Whisk granulated sugar, cornstarch, egg, the reserved egg yolk and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice in a medium bowl. Combine milk, vanilla and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a low simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low. Slowly drizzle one ladle of hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Add a second ladleful, whisking constantly. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, increase heat to medium and whisk constantly until the mixture is gently bubbling and thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • 6 Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Pour the pastry cream through the strainer, scraping the bottom of the strainer to make sure you get it all. Whisk in ½ cup pumpkin puree and butter until the butter is melted. Let cool for 5 minutes. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour.
  • 7 To prepare whipped cream: Combine cream, confectioners' sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until medium-stiff peaks form. Fold in pumpkin puree with a rubber spatula until combined.
  • 8 To assemble: To make 4 thin layers, cut the cake in half lengthwise into 2 long rectangles and then slice each piece horizontally into 2 layers. Place one layer on a long, rectangular serving dish. (The layers will be very thin. Use two stiff spatulas or a wide knife to help you transfer them. If a layer cracks as you move it, it's OK—the cracks will be deliciously covered with cream.) Gently spread half of the pastry cream on the layer. Top with another layer. Spread with half of the whipped cream. Repeat the layers, ending with whipped cream on top. (It's fine if some of the cream drips over the edges.) Fold a long piece of plastic wrap in half lengthwise and wrap it around the outside of the cake to help support it as it chills. Leave the top uncovered.
  • 9 Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. Unwrap and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving. Lightly trim the edges with a serrated knife, if desired, for a clean-edge look. Serve topped with pecans.
  • To make ahead: Wrap cake (Steps 1-4) in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 week or freeze for 2 months. Refrigerate pastry cream (Step 5-6) for up to 3 days. Refrigerate assembled dessert for up to 1 day.
  • Equipment: 9-by-13-inch baking pan, parchment paper
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