Chocolate-Pumpkin Layer Cake


  • 20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) soft unsalted butter, more for greasing
  • 2 cups flour, more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup plain pumpkin purée, canned, frozen or fresh
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 10 ounces unsweetened chocolate, preferably 99 or 100 percent, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Use a little butter to grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper. Butter and flour the paper. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream 8 tablespoons butter and the granulated sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in pumpkin purée. Mixture may look slightly curdled. Stir in flour mixture about half a cup at a time until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips and pecans.
  3. Divide batter into pans and bake in middle of oven until springy to the touch and a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes, run a knife around edges, invert onto racks and peel off paper. Let cakes cool completely.
  4. In a large bowl, blend remaining 12 tablespoons butter and confectioners’ sugar together. Blend in chocolate and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.
  5. Place one cake layer, smooth side up, on a platter. Ice top. Place second layer, smooth side down, on top; ice top and sides of cake.

To make ahead: For fully frosted cake, put in freezer unwrapped; when frozen hard, wrap in plastic, then foil. Remove wrapping before defrosting.

Unfrosted cake layers out of their pans can be wrapped first, then frozen up to three weeks.

Frosting can be made up to 24 hours ahead and refrigerated, then brought to room temperature for at least one hour.

Lulu's Apple Tart

For one 8 inch crust: 1 cup all purpose flour 1 stick butter 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar 1 tsp chopped rosemary

Filling: 5 medium apples, peeled and chopped ¼ cup fresh lemon juice ½ cup apricot jam 4 tablespoons of butter (1/2 stick) 1/8 cup rum 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

To make the crust, in the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, butter, sugar and rosemary. Pulse 8 times until combined then run processor for 30 seconds, until a ball of dough forms. Press dough into the sides of an 8-inch tart pan. Prick bottom of the crust with a fork and bake 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Put all of the filling ingredients in a pan and cook on medium heat until the apples start to resemble applesauce. About 15 minutes. Put filling into your baked tart crust and bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees. It is great served with vanilla bean ice cream or cinnamon whipped cream.

Tip 1: you can slice up an extra apple to put on the top of the tart after cooking for 20 minutes. Pull it out of the oven and arrange on top. Put it back in the oven for the remaining 20 minutes. It just makes it look pretty.

Tip 2: When my husband and I were shooting this picture he wanted me to put a little glaze on top to make it look “prettier”. I took out the apricot jam from the fridge and put a spoonful in a small skillet with a spoonful of water and stirred on low until it was mixed together. I strained it through a tea strainer and then brushed it on top of the tart. It really will make your tart look beautiful.

Tip 3: Another way to keep apples from turning brown besides lemon juice is to mix them with 7up, drain and your good to go. The 7 up trick I learned from my chef friend Lisa Masuda.

Tip 4: Red and green apples sliced up look great in a bowl on a cheese board. Use tips above when you do this.