Chocolate Pumpkin Cake and Pumpkin Cinnamon Frosting

I’m pretty sure there’s a baking conspiracy.  Sometimes, I just don’t understand baking.  There are all these secrets that no one tells you about, but are super important!  For example, did you know that baking with boiling water makes cakes super moist and delicious?  Why does no one tell us these important things?!?!

A few months ago, my coworker gave me a chocolate cake recipe which is the simplest thing ever to make, and it’s ridiculously moist and delicious.  That recipe is for another post, but the point is, it used boiling water.  Then I saw this gem over at The Post Punk Kitchen.  Another ridiculously moist chocolate recipe that uses boiling water.  I think we’re on to something here.

Anyway, I decided to use the pumpkin chocolate cake as my inspiration this week (and in preparation for Thanksgiving) and I tweaked the recipe a bit to make cupcakes.  Then I made a frosting that refused to thicken, no matter what I did, so being the crazy person that I am, I made the same exact recipe into a cake (double the cupcake recipe) so that I could use the frosting as a nice drippy glaze.  Yay for having way too many baked goods lying around!  (Speaking of which, if you’re in DC and you want a cake right now, I think I can help you out)

The good news is, I think I’ve succeeded in making a healthy (well, ok, healthier) cake.  This one is vegan, has very little added sugar, almost no fat, and even uses whole wheat flour.  And it’s amazing!  The deep chocolate flavor pairs so nicely with the subtle hints of pumpkin and the pumpkin pie type of spices.  I don’t like things to be overly sweet, so I like the emphasis on chocolate flavor, rather than sweet.  Also, since I paired this cupcake with a cream cheese frosting, the super sweet frosting goes very nicely with the mild cake.

If you’re making the cupcakes (or cake) without any frostings or glazes, I would increase the sugar to 1 cup.  But really, I recommend making the frosting because it just goes so nicely with it.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes (Vegan)

Makes 1 dozen cupcakes, or double the recipe to make one bunt cake (93/4  x 33/8 fluted tube pan)

1/4 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons boiling water, divided (see note)
1 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used all whole wheat in one batch, half whole wheat half regular in another)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dark mini chocolate chunks or chips

Preheat oven to 350 F

1. Boil some water.  You can wait to measure it once it’s boiling.

2. Mix applesauce, oil, and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl, sift together flour, spices, baking soda, and salt and set aside.

3. Measure out and pour 1/3 cup boiling water into the chocolate mixture and mix quickly to create a smooth chocolate sauce.  Still mixing, add the sugar, vanilla, and pumpkin until everything is incorporated.

4. Add about half the flour mixture to the chocolate sauce and stir` gently until the flour is just mixed in (we don’t want to over mix here).  Add a teaspoon of boiling water and mix again.

5. Add the rest of the flour, along with another teaspoon of boiling water.  Stir until everything is just incorporated.

6. Spoon the batter into lined cupcake tins.  Fill each one about 3/4 full.  The cupcakes will come out a little chunky on top, so feel free to smooth down the top once each tin has been filled.

7. Bake cupcakes for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean (well, relatively, since melted chocolate chunks would make the toothpick not clean at all).

If you’re making a cake, bake for 40-50 minutes instead.

8. Let your cupcakes cool for at least 10 minutes, then enjoy them plain.  Or, wait until they’ve reached room temp and drip some of the yummy goodness detailed below on them.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Glazy Frosting (Vegan)

8 oz. vegan cream cheese, softened (or if you eat cheese, go ahead and use regular cream cheese)
1/8 cup (1/4 stick) vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks)
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Mash the cream cheese, margarine, vanilla, and pumpkin puree together to create a creamy mixture.

2. Add the cinnamon, then begin adding the sugar, one cup at a time, stirring continuously until everything is blended, then refrigerate to set.

3. Drizzle the finished frosting over a room temperature cake or cupcakes.


22 Responses to Chocolate Pumpkin Cake and Pumpkin Cinnamon Frosting

  1. Amy says:

    What a beautiful cake! I love the use of pumpkin and chocolate together. These must have quite the delicious moist texture from the applesauce and pumpkin! So festive :)!

  2. Isn’t the combo of pumpkin and chocolate so fabulous?! This cake DOES look super moist! Thanks for sharing that boiling water tip! And the cinnamon frosting is just perfect! : )

  3. Yum! This chocolate pumpkin cake looks delicious. I’ve never replaced butter with apple sauce in a recipe before although I have heard of this substitute before. I should give it a try with this recipe here. =)

  4. Emily says:

    Haha, I wish I was in DC to help you out. I laughed out loud when you mentioned making another cake to use the frosting. Such a foodie; I love it!

  5. This recipe looks great. I totally agree – its like they hide all these baking secrets from us. Like buttermilk in scones, or making shortcrust pastry with cold butter and cold water!

  6. Alyssa says:

    I never knew that about boiling water! Thanks for the tip. This cake looks great! I thought pumpkin and chocolate was a strange combination until a friend made mumpkin chocolate chip cookies and I was hooked! I love that this is a healthier cake. In this season of indulgences, it’s always good to lighten things up where every possible.

  7. Jo says:

    I love your pictures and recipes. We would love
    to invite you to register with and upload your pictures.

    Hope to see you there. 🙂

  8. Ann says:

    They look delicious! I think the frosting/glaze is perfect! I wished I lived in your area – I’d be knocking on the door for a cupcake!

  9. icancookthat says:

    I had no idea boiling water delivered such awesome results! What the heck!

  10. RavieNomNoms says:

    Oh wow…that is amazing! I love the frosting! That is a total winner!

  11. Maggie says:

    Oh wow, this looks so good! Cinnamon frosting? I cannot wait to try this! I love cinnamon anything so this is going to be a keeper for sure! And, yeah, the boiling water thing? Why didn’t “they” tell me about this before now? 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

  12. Oooooh, Heather, that’s a great idea! Spicy and chocolate go so well together!

  13. Beautiful cupcakes – chocolate and pumpkin are made for each other! 🙂 This would be a fun one to play with the spices and alter the flavor a bit – I wonder if you could add a spicy kick…

  14. Hahaha, yes, you can absolutely eat more of it. At least, that’s been my logic this past week 🙂

  15. Oh my! This looks so delicious and because it’s healthy, I can eat more of it, right?!

  16. I want to lick all that frosting up! Yay for a healthy sweet!

  17. This looks delicious in so many ways! I can only imagine how moist it is 🙂 Chocolate and pumpkin are my two fav flavors, so this cake is king!

  18. Amalia says:

    Everything looks gorgeous and super delicious! The pumpkin cinnamon frosting is making my mouth water! 🙂

  19. Carolyn says:

    Both the bundt and the cupcakes look amazing, I can hardly believe they’ve been healthified!

  20. What a great recipe! Chocolate and pumpkin are both my favorite foods.

  21. Kiri W. says:

    These look so perfectly moist! I’d love to steal a cupcake 😉

  22. Wow your cake and cupcakes look amazing!! What a great recipe! 🙂

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