Chocolate Pumpkin Cake and Cupcakes

LEVEL: Moderate
YIELD: One 8-inch 3-layer cake or 36 cupcakes


  • 2½ c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. good-quality cocoa
  • 2 tbsp. good-quality cocoa
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1½ tsp. baking soda
  • 2¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp. fresh-grated nutmeg
  • ¾ c. buttermilk
  • 1½ c. pumpkin purée
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2.25` stick unsalted butter
  • 1½ c. dark brown sugar
  • 1½ c. granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • Orange Cream-Cheese Frosting


  1. Prepare cake pans: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter three 8-inch cake pans and fit each bottom with an 8-inch circle of parchment paper. Lightly butter the parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Make the batter: Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl and set aside. Combine the buttermilk, pumpkin, and vanilla in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl, with an electric mixer set on medium speed, until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until the mixture is smooth and light. Alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, blending well after each addition.
  3. Bake the cake: Divide the batter among the pans and bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean — about 35 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pan for 20 minutes. Remove cakes and cool. (For cupcakes: Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Place cupcake liners in standard cupcake tins and fill each with 1/4 cup of batter. Bake for 22 minutes.)
  4. Assemble the cake: Trim each of the layers. Place one layer on a cake plate and top with one third of the frosting. Repeat with the second and third layers. (To ensure that the cake layers do not shift, cut three skewers to 1/4 inch shorter than the full height of the cake and insert them before icing the top layer.) Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. Make our Orange Cream-Cheese Frosting.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 1(8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 14cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1teaspoon orange zest, grated
  • 12teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 14teaspoon orange food coloring


  1. Blend the cream cheese, butter, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla in a large bowl, using an electric mixer set at medium speed, until smooth.
  2. Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and creamy — about 3 more minutes.
  3. Add the food coloring and gently stir until the color is uniform.
  4. Chill the frosting until ready to ice the cupcakes or cake.

Tips & Techniques

Oreo Graveyard
by Megan Anderle


1 package Oreo cookies
11 3.4-oz. boxes instant chocolate pudding
22 cups whole milk (about 1 1/3 gallons)
1 tube black cake decorating gel
10 Milano cookies
1 package Trolli Sour Brite Crawlers (or other gummy worms)

Cream Puff Filling
2 3.4-oz. boxes instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk

Cream Puffs
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
6 large eggs, divided
11 oz. white melting chocolate
Red and yellow food dye
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 oz. green maraschino cherries, cut into thin strips

10 Nutter Butters
11 oz. white melting chocolate
1 tube black cake decorating gel
10 coffee stirrers–you want flattened ones, like the kind you find at Starbucks
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

A 13x9x2 1/4″ pan (or another pan that has a depth of 2-3 inches)
2 pastry bags fitted with 1/2-inch plain round tips


To crush Oreos, put them in a Ziploc bag and roll over them with a rolling pin.

Fill a large bowl with instant chocolate pudding and milk, and whisk to combine. Then mix in half of the crumbled Oreos. Pour the mixture into your roasting pan, cover, and refrigerate.

After an hour, when the pudding has thickened, sprinkle the remainder of crushed Oreo cookies over the top. Using black writing gel, write “RIP” on Milano cookies, and place in pudding. Place gummi worms in pudding as desired.

Cream Puff Filling
In a large bowl, combine vanilla instant pudding mix, cream, and milk. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours, or until it has set.

Cream Puffs
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Bring first 4 ingredients to boil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat, stirring with wooden spoon until butter melts. Add flour all at once and stir vigorously until dough forms a ball. Transfer dough to large bowl. Cool 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 egg and beat until blended with a wooden spoon. Add remaining 5 eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each, then beat until dough is smooth and shiny, 2 to 3 minutes.

Working in batches, transfer dough to pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch plain round tip. Pipe 1- to 1 1/4-inch mounds, spaced about 2 inches apart, onto prepared baking sheets. Using wet finger, smooth tops of mounds.

Bake puffs for 15 minutes. Reverse baking sheets. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Continue to bake until puffs are dry, firm, and deep golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes longer. Cool puffs on baking sheets.

When the shells are cool, use a pastry bag to pipe the pudding into the shells.

Heat white chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Mix in red and yellow food dye until it the mixture becomes orange. Stir in vegetable oil to thin the liquid slightly. Remove saucepan from the heat and coat cream puffs with chocolate. Place one slice of green cherry on top of each cream puff. Place puffs on a sheet pan and refrigerate until chocolate hardens.

Nutter Butter Ghosts
Wedge one coffee stirrer into the center of each Nutter Butter (between the two cookies, into the filling). You want an inch of the stirrer to stick out at the bottom of each cookie. (This will make your ghosts “float.”)

In a bowl placed on top of a saucepan of simmering water, melt white chocolate, stirring frequently. Add vegetable oil, as needed, to thin the mixture. Using a spoon, coat each Nutter Butter. Then place them on a sheet pan and refrigerate to harden.

Once the chocolate has hardened, use the tube of black gel to make two eyes. Place in pudding graveyard as desired.


Author: Amanda Powell
Serves: 1 9-inch cake
White Cake
  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3½ cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Scrapings from one vanilla bean
  • 1¼ cups whole milk, room temperature
  • 1¼ cups raspberry jam
Red Velvet Ganache
  • ¾ cups heavy cream
  • ½ lbs white chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon red velvet emulsion (or red food coloring)
Vanilla Bean Buttercream
  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3½ – 4 cups powdered sugar
  • Scrapings from one vanilla bean
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
Special Equipment
  • Stand mixer(optional)
  • 3 9-inch cake pans
  • Spatula
  • Mixing bowls
  • Piping Bags
  • Piping Tip
  1. Grease and flour three 9-inch baking pans. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, mix together the cake four, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Whisk well.
  3. Beat the egg whites one at a time into the butter mixture. Add in the extract and the vanilla bean. Alternate between adding the flour and the milk into the butter mixture in three batches, beginning and ending with the flour.
  4. Evenly distribute the batter among your cake pans and bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool completely before removing from the pans. Wrap well and freeze for about 2 hours, or up to overnight.
  5. In a saucepan, heat the heavy cream until steaming. Add the white chocolate and stir until melted. Add in the red velvet emulsion. Cool until a room temperature.
  6. Beat the butter for the frosting until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time until well combined. Add in the vanilla bean scrapings and the heavy cream. Beat well on slow for about 2 minutes.
  7. Level the cakes as needed. Place ¼ of the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a plain tip. Pip a circle along the outer edges of two of the cake layers. Fill the inside of the ring with raspberry jam. Place one of the layers on top of the other, and place the plain cake layer on top. Frost with the remaining butter cream. Top with the red velvet ganache.
Chocolate Blackberry Elegantly Gothic Halloween Cake

Author: Domestic Gothess
  • 60g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder, sifted
  • 6 tbsp boiling water
  • 4 tsp black gel food colouring (optional)
  • 100g (1/3 cup + 1 heaped tbsp) softened butter
  • 175g (1 cup) light brown soft sugar
  • 100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 175g (1 + ½ cups) self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1 rounded tsp baking powder
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
Chocolate Bark
  • 150g (5oz) dark chocolate, chopped
  • 75g (3 oz) white chocolate, chopped
  • about ½ tsp purple powdered food colouring (optional) (DO NOT use water based colouring (including gel), powdered or oil based only)
Blackberry Puree
  • 500g (17 oz) blackberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 50g (1/4 cup) sugar
Blackberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  • 200g egg white (5 large)
  • 275g (1 + ⅓ cup) caster sugar
  • 375g (1 + generous ½ cup) softened butter
  • 125g blackberry puree (1/3 + ⅛ cup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • about 1 tsp purple gel or powdered food colouring (optional)
Blackberry Ganache
  • 100g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100g blackberry puree (generous ⅓ cup)
  • 30ml (1/8 cup) full fat milk, plus extra as needed
  • 30g (2 tbsp) butter
  • about 1 tsp black gel food colouring (optional)
To Assemble
  • about 4 heaped tbsp blackberry jam
  • black fondant for the roses
  • Silver lustre dust
  • black and purple sprinkles as desired
To Make The Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4, grease and line three 15cm/6in round tins.
  2. Mix the cocoa powder and boiling water together in a large bowl until it forms a smooth paste, mix in the food colouring then add all of the other ingredients and beat with an electric mixer until it forms a smooth, thickish batter.
  3. Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for about 25 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To Make The Chocolate Bark
  1. Line a baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.
  2. Melt the dark and white chocolates in separate bowls over a pan of gently simmering water, do not allow the water to become too hot and don’t get any in the chocolate.
  3. Mix the powdered food colouring into the white chocolate a little at a time until you reach your desired shade.
  4. Pour the dark chocolate onto the greaseproof paper and spread it out into an approx 15x25cm/6x10in rectangle, drizzle the white chocolate over the top and drag a toothpick through it to swirl the two colours together.
  5. Set the chocolate aside until it has set but is still slightly soft then use a very sharp knife to cut it into triangular shards of varying sizes, place in the fridge until hard. Store in an airtight container.
To Make The Blackberry Puree
  1. Place the blackberries and sugar in a saucepan, bring up to a simmer and cook until the blackberries have broken down and become mushy. Pour into a blender and blitz until it becomes a puree then pass it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until cold.
To Make The Blackberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  1. Place the egg whites and sugar in a spotlessly clean heatproof bowl (the bowl of your stand mixer if you have one) and place the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, make sure that the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
  2. Gently whisk the eggs (with a hand whisk, not an electric one) until the sugar has dissolved, if you rub the mixture between your fingers it should feel smooth with no hint of graininess. It should measure 60C/140F on a thermometer.
  3. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk with an electric mixer/stand mixer on high until the egg whites have formed a stiff, glossy meringue and the mixture is completely cold, the base of the bowl should feel cool to the touch, this will take about 10 minutes.
  4. Turn the mixer down to low and gradually add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. The mixture may curdle or begin to look soupy, just keep on whisking and it will come back together.
  5. Once all of the butter has been incorporated and the buttercream is smooth and silky, whisk in the blackberry puree gradually, a spoonful at a time. The mixture shouldn’t split, but if it does don’t worry! Just place a couple of heaped tablespoons of the buttercream in a small bowl and microwave it until it has melted, then drizzle it back into the rest of the buttercream slowly while whisking on a high speed, after a couple of minutes of whisking it will come back together.
  6. Finally whisk in the vanilla extract and add the food colouring a little at a time until you reach your desired shade.
Assemble The Cake
  1. Trim the tops of the cakes if necessary to level them then place one layer on a cake stand or serving platter, spread over a thinish layer of the buttercream. Place a generous dollop of the buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a large (1.5cm) plain nozzle; pipe a ring of the buttercream just inside the edge of the cake, this forms a dam to stop your jam from leaking out.
  2. Fill the gap in the middle of the ring with a couple of heaped tablespoons of blackberry jam. Spread a thinish layer of the buttercream over the bottom of one of the other cake layers and place in buttercream side DOWN on top, press down gently. Spread a thinish layer of buttercream on top of the cake, pipe another ring of buttercream around the edge and fill with jam. Spread a thinish layer of buttercream over the TOP side of the remaining cake layer then place it buttercream side DOWN on to the cake so that the top surface of the cake is the base to create a completely flat surface, press down gently.
  3. Crumb coat the cake by spreading a very thin layer of buttercream over the entire cake, don’t worry about being too neat at this point, just make sure that the whole cake is covered. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes until the buttercream has set.
  4. Spread a thick layer of buttercream over the whole cake, using an offset palette knife or plastic dough scraper to get it really smooth, take your time and fill in all the gaps but don’t worry too much about getting it absolutely perfect. Place the cake in the fridge while you make the ganache.
To Make The Blackberry Ganache
  1. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, heat the blackberry puree and milk together in a small pan until boiling then pour over the chocolate and stir until smooth, add the butter and stir until it has melted.
  2. Add the food colouring a little at a time until it reaches the desired shade. Due to the blackberry puree the ganache is a little thicker than usual and will not set as firm as regular ganache. If you find that it is too thick to pour so that it drips down the sides of the cake, stir in some warm milk a little at a time until it reaches a pourable consistency.
  3. Pour the ganache over the top of the cake, using a palette knife or the back of a spoon to encourage it to drip over the edge and down the sides.
  4. Allow the ganache to set a little then place any leftover buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a small star nozzle. Decorate the top of the cake with the chocolate shards and fondant roses, pipe blobs of the buttercream and sprinkle with edible lustre dust and black and purple sprinkles if you have them.

Chocolate Eyeballs

LEVEL: Moderate
YIELD: 2 dozen


  • 12 oz. white chocolate
  • 24 donut holes
  • 24 red M&M candies
  • 8 oz. dark chocolate


  1. Line cookie sheet with waxed paper. Place white chocolate in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 30-second increments until almost melted, stirring occasionally until smooth.
  2. Dip 1 donut hole in white chocolate to coat. Carefully place on sheet. Immediately press 1 candy in center of round to resemble eye’s iris. Repeat with remaining white chocolate, donut holes, and candies. Refrigerate 15 minutes to set chocolate.
  3. Place dark chocolate in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 30-second increments until almost melted, stirring occasionally until smooth.
  4. Dip 1 side and then other side of coated donut hole in dark chocolate, leaving white-coated space around candy to create white of eye. Return to sheet. Repeat with remaining coated donut holes and dark chocolate. Refrigerate 15 minutes to set chocolate.

Perfect Caramel Apples
Total Time:
30 min
15 min
15 min
Yield:6 apples
See how to make caramel
Mix 2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup light corn syrup and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Cook, swirling the pan (do not stir), until the mixture is light amber and a candy thermometer registers 320 degrees, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat; slowly whisk in 1/2 cup heavy cream, then 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Return to low heat and whisk until smooth. Let cool until the caramel is thick enough to coat a spoon. Insert sticks into the stem ends of 6 apples and dip the apples into the caramel, letting the excess drip off. Roll in toppings if desired, then let cool on a parchment-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray.

Carnival Caramel Apples Recipe

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 20 min. Cook: 25 min.
MAKES: 10-12 servings


  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • Dash salt
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10 to 12 Popsicle sticks
  • 10 to 12 medium tart apples, washed and dried
  • 1 cup salted peanuts, chopped


  1. In a large heavy saucepan, melt butter; add the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in milk. Cook and stir until a candy thermometer reads 248° (firm-ball stage). Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla.
  2. Insert Popsicle sticks into apples. Dip each apple into hot caramel mixture; turn to coat. Dip bottom of apples into peanuts. Place on greased waxed paper until set. Yield: 10-12 apples.
Editor’s Note: We recommend that you test your candy thermometer before each use by bringing water to a boil; the thermometer should read 212°. Adjust your recipe temperature up or down based on your test.

Caramel Apples


 6 -medium apples

6-wooden skewers
1-cup sugar
1/2-cup light corn syrup
1 -can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/-8teaspoon salt
1 -teaspoon vanilla
Betty Crocker™ candy sprinkles, chopped candy or chopped peanuts, if desire


  • 1 Wash apples and dry thoroughly. Insert a wooden skewer in stem end of each apple. Spray plate with cooking spray.
  • 2 In 2-quart saucepan, mix sugar, corn syrup, milk and salt. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, to 230°F on candy thermometer or until a few drops of syrup dropped into cup of cold water forms a soft ball that flattens when removed from water. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Cool slightly.
  • 3 Quickly dip apples into caramel, swirling until completely covered. Dip bottoms in candy sprinkles. Place apples on plate until caramel is set.