Semi-Homemade Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with The Most Amazing Frosting You'll Ever Try

October 13, 2010

Fall--a time for leaves, brisk weather, and pumpkin--with chocolate. I had begun my yearly fixation with all things pumpkin and decided an unseasonably warm Fall day was the perfect opportunity to bake a chocolate pumpkin cake. Let's be honest, chocolate goes with everything, so it was a no-brainer. Being the domesticated Millenial that I am, I knew that this cake would have to be semi-homemade. I mean, who has time to sift flour and and make a cake from scratch? Not me!

I surfed the interwebs to find a user-friendly recipe that I was able to make my own. This recipe was simple to make, since it was based on using a package of German chocolate cake mix. I figured that since I was making the frosting from scratch, I didn't have to feel bad for stealing Pillsbury's cake recipe! 

Ingredients for the cake
You can easily use this recipe for cupcakes or a square cake, but I decided to make a double layer cake. To start, all you need to do is combine a can of pumpkin (or fresh roasted pumpkin if you have the time--yea right), nutmeg, cinnamon, and eggs in a bowl with an electric mixer on low. Then you can add cinnamon chips ( I used semisweet chocolate chips instead) and gently fold them into the batter. Bake these cakes for about 35 minutes and while you wait, prepare the frosting!

Cakes before entering the oven
Ingredients for the frosting
To prepare the cinnamon-chocolate cream cheese frosting, all you need is another bowl to combine several basic frosting ingredients.  Start by blending cream cheese and butter (I used margarine-- I'm clearly watching my figure) at room temperature with an electric mixer. Next add cocoa powder, cinnamon, vanilla and confectioner's sugar. Now, the recipe says to sift the sugar, although I did not, and my frosting turned out perfectly! If the frosting is too thin, you can add more sugar. I preferred a more chocolate-based frosting, so I decided to add more cocoa powder, to balance out the pumpkin in the cake.

The best frosting I've ever tasted

The cakes, post-oven
The final product!
 After the cakes have cooled (about 20 minutes), frost the cakes and serve! You may want to store the prepared frosting in the refrigerator while the cakes cool, so that it will be less gooey, and easier to spread. This cake was so delicious and easy to make, it just may become a staple on my family's Thanksgiving table!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon-Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

(adapted from

  • vegetable oil, spray for misting the pan 
  • 1 (18 1/4 ounce) package plain German chocolate cake mix 
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin 
  • 3 large eggs 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Cinnamon-Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting 

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted


  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly mist pan(s) with vegetable oil spray. Set the pan(s) aside.
  2. Place the cake mix, pumpkin, eggs, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter will be thick and should look well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips until well distributed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pan in the oven.
  3. Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger, 35 to 40 minutes. 
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the Cinnamon-Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting. 
  5. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Spread the frosting over the cake in the pan with smooth, clean strokes. Serve and enjoy!
 Cinnamon-Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

(Makes 3 1/2 cups, enough to frost a 2- or 3-layer cake)
  1. Place the cream cheese and the butter in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until well combined, 30 seconds.
  3. Add the cocoa powder, cinnamon, vanilla, and 3 3/4 cups of the confectioners' sugar. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the ingredients are moistened, 30 seconds.
  4. Add more sugar if the frosting seems too thin.
  5. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the frosting is fluffy, 2 minutes more.


  1. Why is this cake not in my mouth right now? That looks delicious!

  2. I fed this to the hordes at my son's 2nd birthday party, and I think that one of the great things about this recipe is that you don't taste the pumpkin! It was a hit, the kids went back for seconds, and I'll definitely use this recipe again. I bet it would make great cupcakes.

  3. That's an interesting combination.


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