Pumpkin Layer Cake with Caramelized White Chocolate Buttercream

by Jillian
Supremely fluffy and perfectly-spiced layers of pumpkin cake between the most delicious caramelized white chocolate buttercream ever!

Supremely fluffy and perfectly-spiced layers of pumpkin cake frosted with the most delicious caramelized white chocolate buttercream ever!

Is it just me, or is November breezing by a little too quickly this year? I can’t help but feel like I’m running out of precious pumpkin baking time as December gets closer and closer! Not that December will actually stop me from enjoying my favorite fall flavor in the world or anything. In my opinion, pumpkin is a flavor that should be savored ALL year long!

So with that in mind, allow me to introduce you to my latest pumpkintastic recipe… 

This pumpkin cake is deliciously soft, moist, and bursting with pumpkin sweetness and warm spices! And if that wasn’t enough to make you drool, it’s frosted with the most heavenly caramelized white chocolate buttercream. That’s right–CARAMELIZED white chocolate buttercream. Have you ever heard of something so divine??

Supremely fluffy and perfectly-spiced layers of pumpkin cake between the most delicious caramelized white chocolate buttercream ever!

For some time now, I’ve been wanting to try my hand at this caramelized white chocolate phenomenon. As both a white chocoholic and a caramel addict, I just KNEW this was right down my alley. So when thinking of what to frost my pumpkin cake with, I figured I’d give caramelized white chocolate a try! Needless to say, I was NOT disappointed.

Supremely fluffy and perfectly-spiced layers of pumpkin cake between the most delicious caramelized white chocolate buttercream ever!

Although caramelized white chocolate might sound a little intimidating, the process is really simple. All it takes is some time, patience, and most importantly, good-quality white chocolate. From what I read on the Internet, it seemed like the quality of white chocolate was crucial to getting the best results, so I went with Ghirardelli white chocolate chips.

To play it safe and to prevent any possible burning, I lined my baking sheet with parchment paper before scattering the white chocolate chips evenly over the pan. The white chocolate chips are placed in a 250ºF oven for about 55 minutes total. After the first 5 minutes of baking, the chocolate chips are soft enough to spread with a spatula.

Once returned to the oven, you’ll wait 10 minutes before removing the pan, scraping/stirring the chocolate, and re-spreading it into an even layer to bake for another 10 minutes. You’ll need to do a total of five 10-minute intervals to get the perfect caramel color. Don’t worry if your chocolate looks crumbly or lumpy at times–it’ll eventually smooth out the more you stir it. Here’s an idea of how the chocolate should look at each 10-minute interval.

As you can see, the process does seem a little time-consuming, but trust me, it’s SO worth it. Words can’t describe how excited I was to try this caramelized white chocolate for the first time! I was honestly shocked at how similar it tasted to real caramel. It has a wonderfully creamy, toffee-like flavor, and it almost looked exactly like caramel when I stirred in a little warmed heavy cream.

Supremely fluffy and perfectly-spiced layers of pumpkin cake between the most delicious caramelized white chocolate buttercream ever!

The cream is added so that it blends into the buttercream more seamlessly. The buttercream is a standard American buttercream recipe made with unsalted butter, powdered sugar, a little vanilla, and salt. Once the caramelized white chocolate-cream mixture has cooled completely, it gets mixed into the buttercream until smooth and fluffy. It makes just enough to frost the entire cake with the exception of a few “tiny” taste tests here and there.

Supremely fluffy and perfectly-spiced layers of pumpkin cake between the most delicious caramelized white chocolate buttercream ever!

As for the cake, it actually requires less time than the buttercream itself. First you’ll combine some milk with a little lemon juice–you’re essentially making your own buttermilk. Allow this mixture to sit/curdle while you whisk your dry ingredients together–flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Then you’ll combine your wet ingredients–butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, lemon juice, and pumpkin. Alternate between adding your dry ingredients and your homemade buttermilk until the batter is smooth, pour it into your cake pans, and bake until golden!

Supremely fluffy and perfectly-spiced layers of pumpkin cake between the most delicious caramelized white chocolate buttercream ever! Supremely fluffy and perfectly-spiced layers of pumpkin cake between the most delicious caramelized white chocolate buttercream ever!

To “snaz” up this cake a little, I sprinkled some white chocolate shavings along the border of the cake. If you want to make your own shavings, just take a vegetable peeler to a white chocolate bar (I used Lindt). It’s so easy, yet it adds an impressive touch to any cake. After a dash of pumpkin spice along the top, this cake is ready for its close-up…

Supremely fluffy and perfectly-spiced layers of pumpkin cake between the most delicious caramelized white chocolate buttercream ever!

…into your mouth.

Supremely fluffy and perfectly-spiced layers of pumpkin cake between the most delicious caramelized white chocolate buttercream ever!

Supremely fluffy and perfectly-spiced layers of pumpkin cake between the most delicious caramelized white chocolate buttercream ever!

Pumpkin Layer Cake with Caramelized White Chocolate Buttercream

Supremely fluffy and perfectly-spiced layers of pumpkin cake frosted with the most delicious caramelized white chocolate buttercream ever!
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 55 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 10 Servings

Ingredients
  

Caramelized White Chocolate Buttercream:

  • 8 ounces good quality white chocolate chopped or chips (like Lindt or Ghirardelli)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 ½ cup unsalted butter softened
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cake:

  • 2 ½ Tablespoon lemon juice divided
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ⅓ cup canned pumpkin puree

To Decorate:

  • White chocolate shavings
  • Pumpkin pie spice

Instructions
 

Make the Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.
  • Place 1 and 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice in a measuring cup. Add enough milk to the measuring cup to equal 1 and 1/2 cup; let sit for a few minutes.
  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt; set aside.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars together until combined. Stir in the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Mix on high until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin puree and remaining tablespoon lemon juice.
  • With mixer on low, alternate adding the dry ingredients with the milk mixture until just combined. Do not overmix. Pour/batter into lined cake pans, then bake for 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Caramelized White Chocolate Buttercream:

  • Preheat oven to 250ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scatter white chocolate evenly over baking sheet and place in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove, and smooth out with a spatula. Place the white chocolate into the oven in 10 minute intervals, stirring/scraping up, and re-spreading the white chocolate each time. After 5 intervals (55 minutes total baking time), you should end up with a nice deep beige/butterscotchy color. Transfer caramelized white chocolate to a bowl.
  • Heat 1/4 cup heavy cream in a small saucepan on the stove until it just begins to simmer. Pour heavy cream over caramelized white chocolate, stirring until smooth. Allow to cool completely.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and salt on high until fluffy and pale in color, about 2 minutes. Decrease speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and caramelized white chocolate mixture and beat until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

To Assemble:

  • Place one cake layer on a pedestal or cake plate. Spread an even layer of buttercream on top. Top with the second cake layer and spread another layer of buttercream on top. Place the third layer on top, then frost the top and sides with the rest of the buttercream. Sprinkle white chocolate shavings and pumpkin pie spice along the border. Slice, serve, and enjoy!
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