Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache
I wanted to make a cake that was a cross between a pumpkin cake with just a bit of the buttery qualities of a yellow cake-mix-cake, but make it entirely from scratch.
And make it with a generous amount of chocolate. So I did.
The cake I created is predominately a pumpkin-flavored cake, and just hints at a yellow cake, which is exactly what I wanted. But in getting there, I looked at so many pumpkin bread and pumpkin cake recipes in cookbooks, on Pinterest Pumpkin Boards, on cooking sites, on other blogs including Sue’s Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread recipe, which I used as a jumping off place for this cake, that I was driving myself pumpkin cake-making crazy.
And although it’s a Bundt cake, it’s not a super tall and huge Bundt. I baked it in a 12-cup Bundt pan but it can be baked in a 10-cup Bundt, and you’d probably have success dividing the batter among two 8-by-4-inch loaf pans. I love cake as much as the next person, but many of us are cooking for ourselves or small families and we don’t necessarily need ginormous Bundts just laying around and this one isn’t extreme.
The pumpkin puree keeps the cake moist and dense and the spices, including pumpkin pie spice, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves, complement the pumpkin puree and are a reminder that fall is here. Well, it’s sort of fall-like. The days are getting shorter which I don’t like, but it was in the mid-80s in San Diego all September and the day I baked this cake it was 90F, which was just fine with me.
Yellow cake-mix-cakes are more than fine by me, too. I love their spongy moistness and have childhood memories of some Duncan Hines golden gems coming out of my mom’s oven, but I am breaking free from cake mix.
In an effort to duplicate that springy yellow-cake-mix-cake quality, I added sour cream. Sour cream, or Greek yogurt, gives cakes a spongy and springy quality, tenderizes them, and keeps them soft and moist. There is nothing worse than dry cake and I’d rather have nothing than a piece of dry cake.
I also added a bit of butter extract to the batter and if it’s not something you keep on hand, don’t worry about it. From time to time I use butter extract as a flavor enhancer and flavor booster in cookie dough and cake batter. I wouldn’t necessarily say it makes things taste ‘buttery’. Rather, it rounds out the flavors, complements the existing flavors, and gives food that homey quality, and although you can’t exactly put your finger on what it is, it just makes you want to have seconds.
Just like adding brewed coffee to chocolate cake batter does not make the chocolate cake taste like a chocolate-coffee-flavored-cake and instead intensifies the chocolate flavor, the butter extract principle is similar. It enhances without making you think you just swallowed a stick of butter or anything.
Butter extract is only about $2.99 for a little vial, compared to about $6.99+ for vanilla extract of the same size, and it’s a fun little bargain extract to keep around. I add a few drops of it to the melted butter to be poured over popcorn for really buttery-flavored buttered popcorn.
Ironically, I didn’t actually use butter in the cake and used oil instead. Oil makes cakes moister, springier, and softer than butter. I do love the flavor of butter in cookies and pie crust, but in recipes where the butter flavor would get lost anyway, such as this one with the pumpkin, the spices, and all the chocolate going on, may as well use oil to keep the cake moister. Plus, the butter extract makes up for any lack of real butter.
Being the chocaholic that I am, I used chocolate in two ways. Chocolate chips are woven throughout the cake and chocolate ganache is poured over the top.
The ganache is so easy to make and comes together in about 1 minute in the microwave. Chocolate chips, cream, and vanilla. It’ so simple to make but tastes so decadent. The ganache stays a bit soft and silky, even over time, which is very different from a chocolate buttercream which hardens and dries out after it’s exposed to the air. I love buttercream but not when it gets crunchy.
Between the chocolate chips in the cake and the chocolate ganache on top, if you like your pumpkin with a side of chocolate, this cake will make you happy. It made me very happy.
For the Cake
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/4 cup sour cream (Greek yogurt may be substituted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon butter extract, optional
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt, optional
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
For the Chocolate Ganache (microwave-friendly)
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup cream or half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
optionally add 1 to 2 tablespoons rum or bourbon, coffee liqueur, or chocolate-flavored liqueur
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 12-cup Bundt or tube-cake pan with cooking spray (I use Pam for Baking with excellent results) or grease and flour the pan; set aside. In a large bowl combine eggs, pumpkin puree, sugar, oil, sour cream, vanilla extract, butter extract, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, allspice, cloves (if you don't have all of them on hand, just use what you do have) and whisk to combine until mixture is smooth and silky.
Add the flour, baking soda, salt and stir until just combined (don’t overmix or the gluten will over-develop and cake will be tougher). Fold in the chocolate chips and pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it lightly with a spatula if necessary and give it a slam on the counter to release any air. Bake for 38 to 42 minutes, or until top has set (it may crackle, this is okay) and is golden or a cake tester, toothpick, or blade of a knife comes out clean (due to the chocolate chips, you may hit some chocolate patches with the insertion test). Allow cake to cool in pan for about 15 minutes before inverting and releasing cake from pan and placing it on a rack to finish cooling. While cake cools, make the ganache.
To make the Chocolate Ganache, Place chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl and heat on high power for 1 minute to soften chocolate; set aside. In a small microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, heat the cream (I used half-and-half) on high power just until it begins to bubble and show signs of boiling, about 1 minute. Pour hot cream over chocolate and let it stand about 1 minute. Whisk vigorously until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth and velvety. Add vanilla, optional alcohol, and whisk to combine. Set bowl aside for about 5 minutes, allowing ganache to cool and thicken a bit. Whisk mixture briefly before preparing to drizzle it over the cake. Ganache will set up a bit with time, but remains quite viscous and drippy.
Cake will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Pumpkin Banana Bread with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting – This bread is a mixture of both pumpkin and banana flavors whereas today’s cake is more robustly pumpkin-flavored. Depending on the flavor profile you want, they’re both moist, dense, pumpkiny, and you can’t go wrong with either
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache – A one-bowl cake, made with a whisk, and the batter comes together in 5 minutes. It’s my go-to recipe for classic chocolate cake-mix-flavored cake, without using a mix. Moist, rich, and intensely chocolaty
Spiced Apple and Banana Bundt Cake with Vanilla Caramel Glaze – If nothing else, this glaze is my favorite frosting or glaze, of all time, ever. The Spiced Apple Bundt, also made in a 12-cup Bundt pan, makes a bigger cake than today’s cake in case you want to serve a crowd
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies – A soft and tender pumpkin cookie meets a chewy and classic chocolate chip cookie, rolled into one
Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Granola (vegan, GF) – I can’t get enough of the pumpkin + chocolate combo this fall. This granola is a snap to make so you’ll never have to buy overpriced storebought granola again
Do you have pumpkin, pumpkin cake, or favorite fall-inspired recipe?
There are so many pumpkin recipes out there this time of year that I have a Pumpkin Pinterest Board where I pin things that catch my eye try so I can remember them all. One looks better than the next, which is why personal tried-and-true recipes are appreciated. Feel free to like them up.
Do you like yellow cake, or more specifically yellow cake-mix-cake?
I have some fond memories of yellow cake from childhood. Potlucks, birthday parties, church basement functions, and always with milk-chocolate buttercream on top, and such a classic combination. I’m working on a yellow cake-mix-tasting cake, from scratch, but it’s easier said than done. I’ve gone through more than one or two dozen egg yolks in the process.
Thanks for the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies + KitchenAid Stand Mixer + $200 Williams-Sonoma Gift Card Giveaway entries and have a great week. It’s going to be a very chocolate-filled week here.