Pumpkin Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Ah, it’s that time of year again. The magazines are filled with recipes for turkey with trimmings, side dishes galore, and pies, pies, pies. There’s hints for watching one’s waistline while not offending that aunt who brought over her favorite casserole, tips for trying to make those family favorites into lo-cal treats, and the inevitable pseudo-science articles about the sure-fire way to cook a turkey without giving everyone food poisoning.
I have a confession to make, however. There is one thing I just can’t stand about this holiday: Pumpkin Pie. This is a bit odd for two reasons: a. I love sweets and have been known to eat pies and b. I like pumpkin. I just don’t like the concoction that is usually presented at every standard Thanksgiving buffet. It’s just too cloying, too gelatinous, too something.
I can’t really put my finger on it, but each year I have the same problem of how to refuse to eat someone’s culinary contribution to the feast. So, my quest has been to look for recipes that present an alternative point of view to the pie. For years, I’ve searched out other options.  Personally, I’d like to see Thanksgiving Day dinner start off with a pumpkin soup, rather than end it with pumpkin pie. Somehow, I think that that would showcase this seasonal vegetable in a better light. [As a point of reference, I also want to have a ban imposed on that canned gel stuff that does nothing to show cranberries in their best light or flavor.]
Then a story on one of the websites I check out on occasion, Leite’s Culinaria, caught my eye. The cover page mentioned a Pumpkin Cake with Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting*. Hmmm…..Let’s see. This sounds as though it has possibilities. Then, I started to read the reviews of those who had tried to make this dessert (a familiar habit for those who tap into for recipe resources). Even better, I thought, everyone seems to give it rave reviews.
Because I was really looking for something that I could bring to work for those of us who would have to staff the office until the closing hours of business on Wednesday, long after our bosses have already left for their holiday, I converted the recipe into cupcakes. I also took the suggestion of someone else who had tried it and topped them with pecans (it must be that Southern influence).
As you can see from the photo, it makes a lovely, portable result. The cake is light and moist and the frosting is just nicely sweet. The flavor is not too heavy or overly spiced (something that happens with the offending pie filling). Even my non-pumpkin fan roommate enjoyed it.  All in all, I add my four forks to this recipe. It’s a keeper. As someone who likely had a bunch of family at that first Thanksgiving so many years ago, I have no problem adding this treat to my recipe library.
Buon appetito!

*I think that, next time, I might try to incorporate the nuts into the batter. Also, it seemed to me that this batter might also make great waffles or pancakes, albeit with a few tweaks. And, yes, I used canned pumpkin. I managed to find an organic brand at the grocery store.


  1. Jon

    Dude, you do not challenge the pumpkin pie. I’ll definitely eat your piece.

  2. Patricia from Firenze
    Patricia from Firenze11-22-2006

    So you don’t like pumpkin pies…. But there are Pumpkin pies and pumpkin pies… Last year, more or less at this time of the year I organized a brunch, and I baked a wonderful ginger-crusted pumpkin cheesecake. It was almost as much praised as the pear Tarte Tatin of my father. It had so much success that I actually proposed it on Christmas. And my father -you remember he’s a french Chef, and does not appreciate much “les trucs anglais”, i.e. “english stuff”; but he admitted that “it was really good” !!! This year I tried a new one: pumpkin bars with white chocolate creamcheese icing.. Not even one was left! I let you think then… my receepes are well kept in my paper notebook. Congratulations for your blog!! Patricia from Firenze

  3. theexperimentalgourmand

    Jon – my slice is yours. Patricia – I would love to try the cheesecake recipe and the pumpkin bars sound great. I’m glad that they passed the taste buds of your father. Although, I’ll take his pear tarte tatin for dessert over the pumpkin pie that folks usually make here.