This easy pumpkin snacking cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting is a fabulous dessert in every way. It’s easy (as established), it’s moist and delicious (full of pumpkin puree; warm spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger; slathered with tangy but rich chocolate frosting), and the entire thing, including that luscious frosting, can be made up to a month ahead of time and frozen.

A perfect Friendsgiving treat, it might just knock pumpkin pie off its pedestal on the Thanksgiving dessert table too.

Read more about your make-ahead options and how to store and defrost it. Since you only need half a can of pumpkin, check out recipes to make with leftover pumpkin puree too.

And for another easy autumn treat, try Jessie Sheehan’s Apple Snacking Cake.

  • Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients (21)

For the cake:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Rounded 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 7 1/2 ounces pumpkin puree (half of a 15 ounce can)

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • One 8 ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt


For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8×8×2-inch pan with cooking spay or softened butter. Line the bottom with parchment paper and grease again. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
  3. Place the oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the eggs and yolks and continue whisking until smooth. Add the pumpkin and whisk again. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and using a rubber spatula, gently fold to combine. Do not over mix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula or butter knife.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating at the halfway point, until a cake tester comes out with a moist crumb or two. Let cool until easy to handle before inverting the cake on to a cooling rack and then flipping it right side up to cool to room temperature.

For the frosting:

  1. Combine the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and on medium high speed, beat the butter/cream cheese until smooth and uniform. Add the vanilla and beat again.
  2. Sift the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and salt into a large bowl and whisk until combined. With the mixer on low speed, add about a cup of the sugar at a time to the mixer bowl, beating after each addition until thoroughly until combined. Once all of the sugar has been added, increase the speed of the mixer to medium or medium high and beat the mixture until smooth. Do not over mix, or the frosting will lose structure.

To assemble:

  1. Generously spread the top of the cake with the frosting.
  2. If you’d like to freeze the cake, do so after frosting it, covering it in plastic wrap only once it is frozen solid. Remove the plastic wrap and let come to room temperature before serving.
  3. The cake will keep wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to three days, and is even more delish on day two.

Photos courtesy of Jessie Sheehan.