This cake is the perfect autumn dessert: warm spices baked into a moist cake topped with a tangy, smooth cream cheese frosting with homemade caramel swirled in it.
I was bringing dessert to a dinner party and for some reason I could not.. just could not choose what to make. My boyfriend suggested that it be something autumn-ish since all the leaves by the river near our house have started to change colours. I flipped through recipe books, I visited my favorite food blogs, I consulted other food lovers for their favorite fall dessert and wrote them down into lists. In the end my list looked something like this:
- Sticky Toffee Pudding
- Apple crisp with homemade ice cream
- salted caramel ice cream
- pumpkin bourbon cheesecake
- apple dumplings
Then, instead of choosing one from my list I went with a pumpkin cake recipe that I found on epicurious that had gotten great reviews.
I have to admit that I wandered around the grocery store FOREVER looking for the canned pumpkin. It didn't help that I was talking on my cell phone and only half paying attention. To save you time: walking back and forth from the canned veggie and canned fruit aisle isn't going to work. It's with the pie fillings. Make sure that you get canned pumpkin though, not canned pumpkin pie filling.
What gives the cake its lovely flavor (other than the pumpkin) is the combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger, cardamom, and grated orange peel. They get whisked into the flour with some baking soda and baking powder.
While the cake was baking I started making the caramel for the caramel cream cheese icing.
Then you melt a half cup of powdered sugar over medium heat, when it turns amber the cream gets stirred in.
The recipe reviewers had warned to watch the caramel and MAKE SURE to taste it before using it to make sure that it hasn't burnt because it can burn fairly quickly.
So I went ahead and burnt my first batch (it didn't look burnt but you better believe it tasted burnt.. salty and dark and nasty)
Then the caramel got put in the freezer to cool to room temp before making the rest of the icing.
This technique works with candy melts (which is what I used) and also with chocolate.
Just paint the melted chocolate or candy melts onto the veined side of the leaf. Try to avoid going over the edge too much or its hard to peel the leaf off afterwards. I did a couple of layers on each leaf so that they wouldn't be too delicate.
The candy leaves went on top of the frosted cake. The frosting comes together in a snap once the caramel is done. Some reviewers said that their frosting didn't set, but I didn't have a problem with it. It was a very soft frosting, but cream cheese icing is usually soft. Plus the icing's flavor is amazing: tangy from the cream cheese but also smooth and caramel-y.
Pumpkin Spice Cake