Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, so I’m delighted that dinner on November 24 is just 27 meals away! We’re keeping it low key this year: It’s just Dave, Smudge, and I digging into a smallish feast of roast duck (with a stuffing made of pork and apples), my paleo cranberry waldorf salad, green beans with bacon, velvety butternut squash (a new Well Fed recipe!), and this pumpkin gingerbread cake.
I’ll be sharing the rest of my Thanksgiving dinner recipes over the next few days, but like my great-great-grandfather who always ate dessert first “just in case,” I’m starting with something sweet.
I think this cake tastes best when it’s chilled. It takes on the denser texture of a cake bar, and the frosting tastes and feels like bakery icing. However, you might like it at room temperature or even warmed a bit. Experiment! You can’t really go wrong, it is cake, after all.
NOTE to Whole30ers: This is a treat and includes honey, so it’s not Whole30-compliant. But don’t worry! The rest of my Thanksgiving recipes are Whole30 approved.
Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake With Maple-Vanilla Frosting
1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup Justin’s Maple Almond Butter
(If you don’t want to buy maple almond butter, use plain + 1 tablespoon 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. For real. When you’re sure it’s cooler than Mr. Mike Ness in Red Square in February, you may cut it into 9 or 16 squares. Dollop a spoonful of frosting onto each square and top with a nut. Do not snarf your cake yet – save it for Thanksgiving dinner!
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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