A Holiday Dessert

We like to eat in the library, and at this time of year we often have a great variety of treats. In that spirit, I offer a recipe for chocolate-pumpkin layer cake, taken from the New York Times. It’s the perfect blend of holiday flavors.

Adapted from John Down, Christopher Norman Chocolates

Time: 1 1/2 hours plus cooling

20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) soft unsalted butter, more for greasing
2 cups flour, more for dusting
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup plain pumpkin purée, canned, frozen or fresh
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
10 ounces unsweetened chocolate, preferably 99 or 100 percent, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Use a little butter to grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper. Butter and flour the paper. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.

2. Using an electric mixer, cream 8 tablespoons butter and the granulated sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in pumpkin purée. Mixture may look slightly curdled. Stir in flour mixture about half a cup at a time until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips and pecans.

3. Divide batter into pans and bake in middle of oven until springy to the touch and a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes, run a knife around edges, invert onto racks and peel off paper. Let cakes cool completely.

4. In a large bowl, blend remaining 12 tablespoons butter and confectioners’ sugar together. Blend in chocolate and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.

5. Place one cake layer, smooth side up, on a platter. Ice top. Place second layer, smooth side down, on top; ice top and sides of cake.

Yield: 8 to 12 servings.

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