Whoever the first person was to combine Chocolate and Pumpkin was a genius! The sweet and earthy flavor of pumpkin pairs well with the intense flavor of chocolate to create a uniquely delicious flavor. Also, cakes baked with pumpkin get the added benefit of the extra moistness that pumpkin adds. This cake benefits in that department not only from the pumpkin, but also with the addition of the Blood Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil in lieu of butter.

This recipe can be made fast and simple by baking it in a 9X13 pan. Or, if you have more time and want a special presentation cake, opt for baking the cake in a 9” round cake pan and going thru the few extra steps listed below. Also, for the 9X13 cake, if you are really short on time, omit the frosting all together and simply sprinkle the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar mixed with a little cinnamon and serve with ice cream or gelato (salted caramel gelato gets a thumbs up from friends of mine when I served it this way last week!)


I suggest using Valrhona Cocoa Powder for this cake. Established in 1922, Valrhona is a French premium chocolate manufacturer based in a small town near Lyon. It is one of the leading producers of chocolate in the world. They focuses on high-grade luxury chocolate use by chefs and aspiring home bakers. Valrhona produces chocolate made from beans of a single year's harvest from a specific plantation, primarily the Grand Crus which is grown in South America, Oceania and the Caribbean.

The images shown here are the 9” layer cake option. It makes a pretty dessert for Thanksgiving or any cool weather celebration. The little chocolate frogs on the top of the cake I found in Maine this past summer. I thought they were so cute and I just had to buy them. The Chocolatier is Black Dinah which started on Isle au Haut in Maine, but now is located Westbrook, Maine. Hugo, our crazy sweet Frenchie even enjoyed the cake making process as you can see too!

Be sure to read thru the recipe in its entirety before starting. This way you are clear on what to do (or not do), depending on the cake you are making.

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For the cake

  • 1 ½  Cups granulated sugar

  • 1 ½ Cups all-purpose flour

  • ¾  Cup cocoa powder - sifted (preferably Valrohna)

  • ½  Tablespoon baking soda

  • ¾  Teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 Teaspoon cinnamon

  • ½  Teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 Large eggs

  • ¼  Cup O’Live A Little’s Blood Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • ½ Cup buttermilk

  • 1 – 15 oz Can pumpkin puree  (not pumpkin pie filling)

For the pumpkin cream cheese frosting

  • ½ cup unsalted butter softened

  • 8 OZ Cream cheese, softened

  • 3 Cups confectioners’ sugar - sifted

  • ½   Cup pumpkin puree

  •  ½ Teaspoon cinnamon

For the Pear Filling (if baking the batter as a 9”round layer cake – omit this step if baking cake in 9”X13” pan)

  • 2-3 Ripe pears

  • 3 Tablespoons O’Live A Little’s Blood Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 1/4 Cup Light brown sugar

  • 1 Vanilla Bean – split and seeds scraped out 


Mix the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

  2. In a large bowl that will be used to mix the cake batter, combine the sugar and the rest of the dry ingredients. Stir to combine

  3. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs and the rest of the wet ingredients until well incorporated. 

  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix till well combined.

Bake the cake

  1. This cake can be baked in either a 9X13 pan for a fast and easy cake or it cake be baked in a 9”round X 3” deep cake pan which can be made into a layer cake that requires a little more time to assemble

  2. For the 9X13 Pan: Spray a 9×13 pan well with non-stick spray, pour in the batter and bake for approx. 30mins. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely before frosting.

  3. For the 9” round pan: Line the bottom of the pan with parchment and then spray the bottom and the sides well with non-stick spray and pour in the batter. Bake for approx.. 50 mins. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely. After the cake is totally cool, slice the cake through it’s side so you end up with 3 round layers ( a top, a middle & a bottom).

Make the Pear Filling (if making the 9” round cake option)

  1. Peel and core pears and cut into ½ - ¼ dice

  2. Over medium heat, heat the blood orange olive oil and then add the pears, vanilla bean and seeds and brown sugar. Cook till the pears are nice and soft, but still retain their “dice” shape. Cool completely and remove vanilla bean

Make the frosting

  1. Combine the softened butter and cream cheese, 3 confectioners’ sugar, pumpkin puree, and cinnamon and using an electric mixer, mix on low all ingredients. Then mix on medium speed to ensure to rid the frosting of any lumps. 

  2. Frosting should remain at room temperature for easy spreading. If you make ahead and refrigerate then bring back to room temp and mix with an electric mixer again to bring back a good spreadable consistency. 

To assemble

  1. For the 9X13: Spread the over the cooled cake. Decorate as desired. Enjoy!

  2. For the 9”round:

    1. Place the first cake round on the cake plate. Spread a  ½’ - 1” layer of the sauteed pears on top. (you may have some pears leftover. Eat them in yogurt or over ice cream)

    2. Place the second cake round on top of pears and spread a layer of pumpkin cream cheese frosting over the top.

    3. Place third (and last) cake round on top of the frosting and spread frosting over top of cake

    4. Decorate as desired and enjoy your creation!

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