Friday, February 7, 2014

Pumpkin Pecan Cake

My mom's birthday was January 14th, so about a month ago. Since Hubby and I had given up sugar and grain we knew we wouldn't be able to do a traditional cake. And we also know that, as a nurse, she always gets a bunch of sweets and cakes from her awesome coworkers at the hospital. So I knew if I made a paleo cake, she wouldn't be missing out, even if she didn't like the cake. And I wanted to surprise her and see if she actually liked it. 

My mama!
So I started looking up recipes online. I tend to stay away from recipes with more expensive ingredients or ingredients that I will use once and then they will expire. I also stayed away from all of the recipes that use a bunch of dates. I've tried that before and it's good, but not really exactly what I was hoping for. 

I happened to find a recipe on The Clothes Make The Girl, another great blog to follow if you're wanting some new reading material! :)

Credit: The Clothes Make the Girl

This recipe wasn't for a chocolate cake, which I was hoping to find because she absolutely loves chocolate. This recipe was a pumpkin gingerbread cake. I love pumpkin and I love gingerbread, and I know my mama does too. And for the frosting, which I thought would be impossible, there was a maple-vanilla concoction! It only took me about 0.004 seconds to decide that would be a really yummy combination and the ingredients checked out alright, so I decided to go for it and hope for the best. 

I got the ingredients and threw it all together according to the instructions. I did end up having to use butter in the frosting instead of coconut oil because I forgot to get more of that and I didn't have any cardamom, but otherwise all was good to go. I put it in the oven at their house and she kept asking what I was making. I told her it was a surprise, but it was smelling good, so I was hopeful it'd be a good surprise!!

I ended up misjudging the frosting. Coconut butter tends to melt very easily and I didn't wait long enough for the cake to cool before trying to put the frosting on top, so it was a little runny and I ended up just leaving it in the fridge to let the frosting settle. I also didn't cut them into little bars but just layered the frosting over the entire top of the cake, more like a traditional birthday cake.

Then came time to cut! My mom was anxious to try. She loves treats and especially loves trying new things. They are on a very non-paleo diet so it was a totally new thing for my mom and dad. My dad was not quite so eager I don't think, lol. 

Taste test: It was delicious. It tasted exactly how I hoped it would. It took Hubby a couple of bites, but then he was hooked. My mom loved it from the start too. My dad said it tasted like cardboard ... well, you can't please them all, lol. And 3 out of 4 ain't bad, especially since he isn't used to eating paleo and his palate is a bit different. I'm convinced it's a keeper!

But I'll let you be the judge. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think! Here's her recipe:




  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 cup Justin’s Maple Almond Butter (Can sub with plain almond butter + 1 tbsp maple syrup.)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest


  • 1/3 cup coconut butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  • Pecan halves or whole almonds for garnish


1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Make the cake. In a medium sized bowl, combine all the cake ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine. Pour into an 8×8 oven-safe baking dish. Bake until completely cooked through, about 30 minutes.

3. Make the frosting. Place the coconut butter and coconut oil in a microwave-safe dish and heat until softened, but not melted. The length of time you need to nuke it will depend on the temperature in your house, so start with 30-second increments and repeat until you get the right consistency. Place the coconut butter and oil in a large mixing bowl, then add the honey, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Beat until fluffy with a standing or hand mixer. If you don’t have a mixer, go at it with a whisk… and good luck to you!

NOTE: I almost always over-heat the coconut oil and coconut butter, and it gets liquidy. Here’s what to do: mix it per the instructions above, then let it sit at room temperature. As it cools, it will thicken a bit. When it’s the consistency of very thick honey, drizzle it on top of the cold cake. It will tighten up like a frosting glaze, then refrigerate.

4. Assemble! Allow the cake to cool completely. Completely. When you’re sure it’s cool, you may cut it into 9 or 16 squares. Dollop a spoonful of frosting onto each square and top with a nut.

5. Chill out. When all squares are frosted, cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The frosting will firm up in the fridge and the texture transforms into a confection. Serve the cake squares chilled or at room temperature.

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