Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pumpkin Praline Torte

Since it's been mentioned recently on facebook, I thought I'd post about the Praline Pumpkin Torte that so wowed everyone I know who has tasted it.

About 5 years ago, my mom emailed me about a recipe from Sunset magazine she thought looked good. It would be something different for the holidays while still being seasonal. I looked the recipe over, and it looked really good. It was a big hit from the first.

Fast forward 2 years to Thanksgiving 2007; I was in Boston at grad school for my MLIS. Since I was going home to California for Christmas, I stayed in Boston for Thanksgiving. Some of my friends and co-dorm residents were also staying, so we decided to make our own Thanksgiving dinner. It turned out great! Everyone made something, and it was all so yummy. I was in charge of dessert, so I decided to make the Praline Pumpkin Torte.

It was a huge hit! There's just something about the combination of layers of rich, spicy pumpkin cake studded with praline pecans and sandwiched together with whipped cream.

The recipe was featured in a Sunset Magazine website feature called 17 Thanksgiving Desserts.

Praline Pumpkin Torte
from Sunset

Notes: You can bake the cakes (through step 3) up to 1 day ahead; cover and store at room temperature. [I recommend making them at the night before, letting them cool, and then wrapping them up. I think it makes the cake dense, moist, and melds all the flavors together.] Up to 6 hours ahead, assemble layers; cover with a large inverted bowl or pan and chill.

Prep and Cook Time: about 1 hour, plus 1 1/2 hours to cool cakes.

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
3 tablespoons plus 1 3/4 cups whipping cream
1 cup chopped pecans
4 large eggs
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups canned cooked pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or 3/4 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with cooking parchment. In a heavy 1- to 2-quart pan over low heat, stir brown sugar, butter, and 3 tablespoons whipping cream until melted and blended, about 5 minutes. Pour half the brown sugar mixture into each of the cake pans. Sprinkle 3/4 cup chopped pecans evenly into pans.

2. In a bowl, with a spoon, beat eggs, granulated sugar, and oil until well blended. Stir in pumpkin and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt to blend. Whisk dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture until well blended. Pour half the batter into each of the pans; smooth top.

3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans on racks about 5 minutes, then invert onto racks and remove pans and paper. Let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.

4. Up to 6 hours before serving, in a bowl, with an electric mixer on high speed, beat remaining 1 3/4 cups whipping cream until soft peaks form. On low speed, beat in powdered sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla just until blended. Set one cake layer, pecan praline side up, on a serving platter. Spread two-thirds of the whipped cream mixture over the top. Set second layer, praline side up, on top. Cover with remaining whipped cream mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup chopped pecans.

Yield: Makes about 12 servings

If any of my friends who have made this cake have any variations they've tried, let me know.

--recipe and photo copyright Sunset Magazine, photo by Monica Buck--


  1. This is one of the best desserts I've ever tasted, Alex, so thanks for sharing it in Boston and today. I am totally going to add this to my family's Christmas menu (since I'm still in Austria over Thanksgiving).

  2. Thanks, Kim. It's absolutely great at Christmas too. Let me know how your family likes it.