Food & Drink

Pumpkin dessert simply melts in your mouth

Pie and cake come together in this delicious pumpkin dessert.
Pie and cake come together in this delicious pumpkin dessert. Susan Salzman

For many years, we hosted the neighborhood Halloween Party. On the night of Halloween, everyone showed up in costume to chow down on big vats of homemade chili, corn muffins, and slaw or large trays of baked ziti, Caesar salad and garlic balls along with some sort of festive cocktail. The menu depended on my mood and how many were expected to show up.

One year, a friend brought a huge tray with a pumpkin-like cake on it. I couldn’t figure out what it was. There was a layer of pumpkin-like mousse atop some sort of crust over a sprinkling of pecans. I took one bite and I was addicted.

I can’t call it a cake, even though it is made with a cake mix. It is kind of like a pie, but not really. Her mom called it “Pumpkin Delight,” and I have to say that it is delightful. For years, I followed the recipe and would never have thought to change it. But now being more conscious about what I put in the food that I make, and what ultimately goes into my kids’ bodies, I decided to test this recipe using more whole ingredients.

I swapped out many of the original ingredients. Instead of evaporated milk, I used organic, heavy whipping cream; rather than white sugar, I used coconut sugar; and instead of margarine, I used butter. Instead of a boxed cake mix, I made my own “yellow cake mix” using pantry staples. It took a few batches to get it right, but the result was just as good, if not better, than the original.

It’s not the prettiest dessert, but I have taken it to many parties. And although I couldn’t take credit for it in the past, this new adapted version feels more like my own.

Pumpkin Cake

Cake layer:

2 1/4 whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 cups coconut sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Pumpkin layer:

15 ounces canned pumpkin puree

14 ounces heavy whipping cream

1 cup coconut sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

3 large eggs


1 cup chopped pecans

10 ounces unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Line the bottom of the pan with wax paper. Set aside.

For the cake layer: Melt butter in a heavy duty sauce pan over medium heat. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the whole wheat pastry flour, coconut sugar, baking powder and kosher salt. Set aside.

For the pumpkin layer: In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, cream, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and eggs. Pour into prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the cake layer mixture over the pumpkin layer. Sprinkle pecans over the top. Pour butter evenly over the top.

Bake for 1 hour. Cool for 30 minutes. Invert pan and carefully flip over onto a serving platter. Remove wax paper. Serve with whipped cream.

Yield: Enough for a very big crowd.