Pumpkin Spice Latte Layer Cake

That cake up there is a Pumpkin Spice Latte Layer Cake with a Mascarpone Whipped Cream icing, cinnamon caramel glaze, and homemade chocolate truffles. Wow, that’s a mouth full!

One of my mom’s co-workers turned 30 this year. Ah, to turn 30 again. ha! A lot has happened since I turned 30… A LOT! I sold a house, had a snake in my car, had a kid, graduated from grad school, 2 trips to Cozumel Mexico, and soooo much more that might not always be sooooooo good. Oy! Ah, to be 30 again. Truthfully, I’m not sure I’d be willing to do it again. A lot of good happened but a lot of not so good happened. I think I’ll just keep plugging away and see what is just around the corner.

But this isn’t about me, this is about a cake. So… Johanna turned 30 this year. Mom hit me up and asked if I’d be willing to do a birthday cake for her. I guess that Johanna likes people to make a fuss about her birthday and being as though this was a big one, she wanted a big hoopla. haha. I don’t know, I don’t know her :). But mom wanted a big, fancy cake. Mom asked in September. That meant that I had plenty of time to start thinking about what I wanted to do exactly.

So many choices, so many options, all I knew was that she liked Pumpkin. Okay, that was at least a start.

The Pumpkin Spice Latte Layer Cake with Mascarpone Whipped Cream Icing, Cinnamon Caramel Glaze, and Homemade Chocolate Truffles

The Chocolate Truffles

Let’s start with the chocolate truffles. On one of my many scours of the interwebs, I came across a blog that had Homemade Chocolate Truffles on it. They looked so darn pretty. At first, I figured, I’ll just make that whole cake… BUT… it had chocolate chips in it. Hmmm… did I want chocolate other than the truffles in a pumpkin cake? What does chocolate taste like with pumpkin? Question after question so I decided… well I’ll leave this recipe open and maybe come back to it.

I did, I came back and came back and came back. But I still wasn’t sold on the chocolate chips with the pumpkin. Now… I’ve read a lot of recipes that have chocolate chip pumpkin bread, but again, I don’t know about the combination personally. And because of that, I wasn’t sure I was sold on that combination. Now, it’s not about me, but my name is associated with this cake so I had that to consider. Eventually, I decided that Yes, I wanted the truffles. I’d just put them on the cake I envisioned.

Problem number 2 arose… Johanna is currently pregnant and the truffles call for 1/3 cup coffee liquor. Now, 1/3 cup split between the truffles shouldn’t be bad, but really? I’m not going to do that to a pregnant lady. A) take your chances and b) too bad, so sorry. Nope, so I subbed strong coffee with a tablespoon of espresso powder in place of the coffee liquor. It worked.

The Cake

Okay, so what about that cake? I knew it needed to be pumpkin flavored. But from there I was still at a loss. You should have seen how many tabs I had open for pumpkin flavored cakes. Decisions, decisions. Then, I eventually wound up on The Baking Fairy’s website for her Pumpkin Spice Latte Layer Cake. Hmmm… That was a contender. Something about that Latte kept jumping out at me.

One interesting thing about this particular cake was it used Pumpkin Spice Mix. You know, that stuff you buy at the store for a pumpkin pie. It seems like most cakes you see these days make up their own blend of the spices between Cinnamon, Ground Cloves, Ginger, All-spice, and Nutmeg. I thought it was quite interesting that this one used a store-bought mixture of those spices.

It also added Espresso Powder. Maybe that’s how you get that latte in there? When I think of a latte, I think of coffee, not going to lie. I’m not even sure if there is something that isn’t latte with coffee. I don’t really know. I might be newer to this whole coffee thing… #truth.

But this happened to be the cake I went with. The only thing I varied on from the directions was I used Salted butter instead of unsalted. Why? Well, I’m quite a fan of Gemma from Bigger Bolder Baking. She always says, use salted butter for even more flavor. Yes, salt is used in sweet and savory dishes for flavor enhancement.

p.s. These cakes came out pretty flat, I did have to lop off a bit, but hey, hubby and I wanted to try the cake. It’s kind of like the muffin top on a muffin or cupcake, right?

The Cinnamon Caramel Glaze

Now, on to the glaze. You could call it a drizzle, you could call it a glaze, you could call it a sauce. All I’m here to tell you is that you need to call it Yum and Good. Another Blog I stumbled across had yet another pumpkin cake. This particular one was also a contender for the cake position… But… I just wasn’t sure. She claimed it was the Ultimate Pumpkin Cake. I always think those words are weird, Ultimate, Best, etc. How on earth do I know they are the best. Maybe that’s what draws people into trying them… they have to see if they truly are the best or ultimate.

In the end, I obviously didn’t use the cake recipe… But I did use the Cinnamon Caramel Sauce recipe. When she said it was like biting into a cinnamon roll, I’m pretty sure I was sold. Now, this sauce was a little runnier than say your typical ganache glaze/drizzle. I kept putting my cake in the refrigerator to make sure it was cold enough so that I’d have different leg lengths on my drizzle, but they all pretty well went to the cake board.

Either way about it… It was excellent and an excellent choice for the top of this cake.

The Icing

Oh, the icing. What a dilemma. It seemed like most Pumpkin cake recipes used a cream cheese icing. That sounded all fine and dandy, but at the same time, I wanted something more. I just wasn’t sure what. So I had my cake picked out, the topping picked out, and the glaze, but that icing was still baffling me. The one day I was reading through my blogs I follow when Beyond Frosting had a Pumpkin cake posted with Mascarpone Whipped Cream Icing. WHAT?!?!

Okay, so if you don’t know, Mascarpone Cheese is Italian cream cheese. Gemma has a recipe to make your own if you can’t find it in store, but I knew we had it at our store. I didn’t have to make my own. But I was so excited. Plus, it used honey as a sweetener so it cut back on the sugar. Good thing since Johanna had to have the glucose test. Turns out she had it the day before she had the cake. That’s probably a good thing too.

Mascarpone Cheese isn’t quite as sweet as cream cheese and it is a little softer if you’ve never tried it. This is something that is found in Tiramisu. It’s one of the distinguishing tastes really. You can always use cream cheese in place of this, but to me, this meant, Bingo, something that was a little bit different. And yum. It was good too.

The finishing touches

So, I had my cake, my icing, my ganache drip, and the truffles picked out… but I wanted something more. Enter in nonpareils. Nonpareils tend to be small dark chocolate with a candy coating. A lot of times they are in the shape of candy balls, but sometimes they can be disks. The name actually refers to the small candy balls and is from the French word for “without equal.” Didn’t know you were going to get a French lesson too did you? I’m full of surprises.

Now, they are different than sprinkles in that they are chocolate. Sprinkles could have worked too but I wanted that little extra touch. Remember, it was for a 30th birthday after all. We also found some in gold which was even more of a perfect touch to the top of this cake. So much fun.

The Finished Product

And voila, a cake fit for a 30th birthday, in my opinion anyway. If you disagree, don’t tell me :). I did go for the semi-naked cake look. It’s kind of the fad right now and while I’m not totally sure about it, it’s sure a lot easier than getting that icing perfect which is what I was taught to do when I went to cake decorating classes.

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