Spooky Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Happy Halloween, readers! How about a spooky chocolate-pumpkin cake with cupcakes that you can make in Japan?

Chocolate Pumpkin Halloween Cake

My chocolate ganache didn’t turn out as runny as in the original because I had to reheat the chocolate since I didn’t chop it finely enough. If your ganache is thick, work it over the sides with the silicon spatula. I’ve added both ways to the instructions.

Happy Halloween!

Chocolate Pumpkin Halloween Cake

Spooky Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Adapted slightly from The Little Epicurean.

Chocolate-Pumpkin Cake


315 g (2.5 US cups) all-purpose flour
150 g (1 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder (jun kokoa, 純ココア)
1 TBSP baking powder (bêkingu paudâ, ベーキングパウダー)
1.5 tsp baking soda (jûsô, 重曹)
1/4 tsp salt (shio, 塩)
2 tsp ground cinnamon (shinamon, シナモン)
3/4 tsp ground coffee (kôhî, コーヒー)

120 mL (1/2 cup) buttermilk/”sour milk” (1.5 TBSP vinegar, then fill the cup to 120 mL with milk)
60 mL (1/4 cup) plain yogurt (yôguruto, ヨーグルト)
15 oz pumpkin or kabocha puree
2 tsp vanilla extract (banira essensu, バニラエッセンス)

255 g (2.25 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (muen batâ, 無塩バター)
280 g (1.5 cups) light brown sugar, packed (sanontô, 三温糖)
200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar (guranyûtô, グラニュー糖)
5 eggs (tamago, 卵)

General Equipment

2 20-cm (8-inch) round cake pans (kêki gata, ケーキ型)
12 silicon muffin cups
Wax- or parchment paper (kukkingo shîto, クッキングシート)
1 small heat-proof bowl
2 medium bowls
1 very large bowl (or even a pot)
Electric mixer (hando mikisâ, ハンドミキサー)
Silicon/plastic spatula (shirikon hera , シリコンヘラ)


1. Preheat oven (yonetsu, 予熱) to 180°C (350° F). Grease lightly two 8-inch/20-cm cake pans and line with parchment paper. Prepare 12 silicon muffin cups or grease/line a 12-cup muffin tin.

2. In a medium bowl, sift the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices) together. Set aside.

3. In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, yogurt, pumpkin/kabocha puree, and vanilla. Set aside.

4. In the largest bowl, cream together butter and sugars with the hand mixer on medium. Add eggs one at a time and use a silcon spatula to incorporate.

5. Mixing on low, alternate dry mixture and wet mixture to butter mixture in three additions until incorporated.

6. Fill muffins tins 2/3 full with batter. Divide remaining batter between the 2 round pans.

7. Bake cupcakes for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Bake cakes for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Japan: this will take ~30 min for each cake round and ~25 for the 12 cupcakes, depending on the size of your oven range–a total of ~90 minutes.) Let cake cool slightly before unmolding and allowing to cool completely.

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting


115 g (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
16 oz (450 g–two packages) packages cream cheese, room temperature (kurîmu chîzu, クリームチーズ)
200 g (2 cups) confectioner’s sugar, sifted  (paudâ shugâ, パウダー・シュガー; konazatô, 粉砂糖)
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Orange (or red and yellow) food coloring (original calls for gel; I used liquid. If in Japan, use powdered if you can’t get liquid: shokuyô aka, 食用赤, and shokuyô kiiro, 食用黄色.


1. Cream together butter and cream cheese with (clean) hand mixer until fully incorporated.

2. Add sugar, spice, salt, ground cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat on low/low-medium until combined. Slowly add food coloring of choice to get desired color. (Powder will require the most and gel the least.)

3. Frost the cooled cake with a silicon spatula. Set aside in refrigerator for 15-30 minutes. Frost the cupcake cakes.

Chocolate Glaze


100 g (4 oz) dark chocolate (dâku chokorêto, ダーク・チョコレート; burakku chokorêto, ブラック・チョコレート)
15 g (1 TBSP) unsalted butter (muen batâ, 無塩バター)
45 mL (3 TBSP) corn syrup (kôn shiroppu, コーンシロップ), honey (hachimitsu, 蜂蜜), or mizu-ame (水飴)
120 mL (1/2 cup) heavy cream (hebî kurîmu, ヘビー・クリーム)


1. Using a chef’s knife or santoku, chop the chocolate very finely. Place chocolate, butter, and corn syrup/honey/mizuame in a heat-proof medium bowl.

2. Gently bring heavy cream to a boil on the stove.
For a thin glaze: Pour cream over chocolate, etc. Let sit for 1 minute, then, using a silicon spatula, gently stir until smooth. Let glaze sit for 5 minutes until it slightly thickens.
For a thicker glaze (see photo): Take cream pot off heat. Add the contents of the bowl to the pot and melt chocolate mixture over low heat for 1-2 minutes until fully incorporated. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes.

3. Pour glaze over the chilled frosted cake. Allow glaze drop over the sides; if it’s thick, use the spatula to push some over the side to create the “drips.” Refrigerate cake for 15-30 minutes before serving.


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