Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bourbon Pumpkin Mousse Cake with Maple Whipped Cream

This was the dessert we served for Thanksgiving this year. I was looking for something different from my usual fare (i.e., pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake), and I thought that something cakey and moussey would be lighter and more refreshing than pumpkin pie after a typically heavy Thanksgiving meal. When I Googled "Pumpkin Mousse Cake," quite a few renditions came up. I ended up adapting the pumpkin brandy cake recipe from and combining it with William Sonoma's recipe for pumpkin mousse (from their version of Pumpkin Mousse Cake). I felt some major trepidation making a dessert that I had not made before (it's always a potentially cringe-worthy experiment using one's dinner guests/family members as culinary guinea pigs). Anyhoo, it all worked out, especially since my Sis, Elaine (aka "EE") was instrumental in helping me put this all together. The cake came out very moist and the mousse was light, pumpkiny, and fluffy. This is so easy to make and would be a great dessert for any time of the year. In fact, if you just make the cake recipe and bake it in a loaf pan, you would have yourself a really tasty pumpkin bread.

Pumpkin Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups canned pumpkin puree
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans (optional-didn't use this time, but sounds good)

Pumpkin Mousse:
1 envelope of unflavored gelatin
2 tbsp. cold water
1 3/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
3 tbsp. Bourbon or rum
1 2/3 cups heavy cream

Maple Whipped Cream:
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
3 tbsp. maple syrup

For the Cake:
1. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans, shaking out any excess flour. Line bottoms of the pans with parchment paper cut into circles to fit.

2. Measure dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together well with a whisk.

3. In a measuring cup or bowl, whisk together well the vegetable oil, pumpkin puree, eggs, and vanilla extract. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir to combine. If using pecans, add them at this time. 

4. Preheat oven to 350F. Divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until cake tester (or toothpick) comes out clean. Cool for about 10 minutes in the pan on a rack then unmold the cakes and let them cool completely on a rack. 

For the Mousse:
1. In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 2 tbsp. of cold water, stir and then let soften about 3 minutes. 

2. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine 1/2 cup of the pumpkin puree, sugar & salt, and heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the softened gelatin and let cool to room temperature. 

3. Stir in remaining 1-1/4 cups of pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and bourbon to the above (cooled) pumpkin mixture.

4. Using a hand mixer, whip the 1 2/3 cups of heavy cream to soft peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold pumpkin mixture into the puree.

For the Maple Whipped Cream Topping:
1. In a large chilled bowl, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Gradually add the maple syrup. Continue beating  until stiff (but not to the point it becomes like butter!). 

1. Line the sides of a 9" springform pan with parchment paper (make sure parchment extends at least an inch above the rim). 

2. Fit one of the cake layers into the bottom of the springform pan. Top with the pumpkin mousse mixture. Place the 2nd cake layer gently on top of the mousse. OR, you can cut each cake layer in half with a serrated bread knife and make a 3 or 4 layer cake, topping each (except for the very top of the cake) with some of the mousse. If you have an extra layer left, just cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate and snack on it.  

3. Pipe maple whipped cream decoratively on top of cake. Cover tightly with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate overnight before serving. To serve, release cake from springform pan and gently peel off the parchment paper from the sides of the cake.

EE, buttering the bottom & sides of the cake pans generously.

Flour the pans and shake out any excess.

All purpose flour and parchment paper.

Cut rounds of parchment paper to fit into the bottoms of the cake pans.

Ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves & cinnamon.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a bowl.

Measure out vegetable oil, pumpkin puree, eggs and vanilla extract and stir all together in a measuring cup.

 Pour pumpkin mixture into the dry ingredients and combine well.

Divide batter between the 2 cake pans.

Pour 1 envelope of unflavored gelatin over 2 tbsp. of cold water.

Heat 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree, sugar & salt and cook until sugar dissolves. Stir in softened gelatin and let cool to room temperature.

Stir in remaining 1-1/4 cups of pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and bourbon.

Gently fold pumpkin mixture into the whipped cream.

Remove cakes to cooling rack when done.

 When cakes are cooled, you can make either a two-layer cake (place filling between the two cakes) or a 3-4 layer cake by cutting each baked cake layer in half, lining them in a springform pan and topping each layer (except for the very top one) with equal parts of the filling. 

Pipe maple whipped cream on top of the finished cake.

This is the one-layer version.

This is the two-layer version.


  1. props for having the patience to make layers. I would've just gone with one and eaten it before other people realized I made pie...

  2. Nicholas, contrary to appearances, this was a relatively easy recipe to make, AND, it didn't hurt that those cocktails we had before embarking on the dessert-making process actually enhanced rather than impeded our faculties. In the end, it was a Mazeltov moment!