Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Pumpkin Crunch Cake with Caramel Bourbon Sauce

What a beautiful fall weekend we had here in North Texas. Perfect weather for a trip to pumpkin farm. Of course, a trip to upstate New York to visit Ruthy's pumpkin patch would have been much more fun, but the drive was just too far. So we opted for the next best thing.
Believe it or not, there's a working farm smack dab in the middle of suburbia and every year from late September until Halloween, they open to the public for a fall spectacular complete with a farm animal petting zoo, a corn maze and plenty of food offerings. Yes, I nabbed me a big ol bag of freshly made kettle corn. I can't get enough of that stuff.
And they have pumpkins of every shape and size, though their prices aren't near as good as Ruthy's. I mean $5 pumpkins, no matter what the size? No body can beat that.
Of course, our pumpkin farm doesn't grown their own pumpkins like Ruthy's does.
Our youngest grandson came in for the weekend.
Elijah had fun playing amongst the pumpkins, petting the animals, eating his ring pop and playing on the tractor.
The big kids, like Uncle Dayton, had their fair share of fun, too. I mean, what can be better than a cob of freshly roasted corn?
After being around all those pumpkins, I couldn't wait to bake something pumpkiny, so I decided to make a pumpkin crunch cake with caramel bourbon sauce. Yeah, that's a pretty fancy name, but it's easy to make.

Let's start with our ingredients for the cake.

  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree, also known as solid pack pumpkin or 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (if you prefer to use all white sugar, increase to 1 cup and omit the brown sugar)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, light or dark, whichever you choose
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (if you don't have pumpkin pie spice you can use 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground ginger, 1/2 tsp allspice and 1/2 tsp ground cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 2 cups roughly chopped pecans
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Now take out your favorite 9 x 13 baking pan, butter it and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk your pumpkin puree, evaporated milk and eggs.
Now add the sugars, vanilla, spices and salt.
And whisk until smooth.
If you're thinking this sounds just like pumpkin pie filling, you'd be correct, except we're going to pour this into our buttered pan.
Sprinkle your cake mix over that.
And at this point, especially if you're from the south, you're thinking it's a dump cake. You would also be correct, but Pumpkin Crunch Cake just sounds so much fancier, don't you think?

Cue on the pecans!
Most recipes call for one cup of pecans, but if it's a Pumpkin Crunch Cake, I want there to be some real crunch so I use two cups.
Sprinkle those over the cake mix.
Then drizzle the melted butter over the whole thing.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until set.
Cool completely before serving. You can also chill before serving, if you so choose.

About that caramel sauce.
So a while back a friend gifted me with a bottle of Vanilla Bourbon Extract.
It has sat on my counter for months while I wondered how I might ever use this. Then I remembered this amazing apple pie we used to get at one of our favorite restaurants and they served it with a Bourbon Caramel Sauce.

That was all the inspiration I needed.

Okay, so for the caramel sauce, you only need five ingredients.

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark)
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract bourbon (yes,  you can also use regular vanilla)
In a heavy saucepan, whisk together the sugar, half-and-half, butter and salt over medium-low heat.
Continue whisking gently until mixture thickens. This can take anywhere from 5-15 minutes depending on your stove. I have a glass cooktop, so it took me 15 minutes. If you have a gas cooktop, things will likely progress much faster. Whatever the case, don't try to rush things by turning up the heat. In the world of caramel, that's bad joo-joo.
Add the vanilla and continue to cook a minute or two longer to thicken.
Remove sauce from heat and cool.
Pour into container and refrigerate until cold.
When ready to serve, cut a nice hunk of your cake, top with caramel sauce (if you want to nuke it for a few seconds to warm it like my son, you can do that now) and then garnish with whipped cream.
I love the pumpkin flavor, the spice, the crunch of the pecans, and that bourbon caramel sauce adds just the right touch to take it from ordinary to extraordinary. And who doesn't like extraordinary?

Now it's your turn. How is fall shaping up in your neck of the woods?

Mindy Obenhaus lives in Texas with her husband and kids. She's passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com.


  1. You had me at hello... when it was followed by pumpkin crunch cake, Mind-O!!!!

    OH MY STARS!!!!! I'm over the moon here, but not just because of the fun recipe.... your farm fun in the fall is our goal.

    To have fun little animals the kids will love... places to wander.... food to eat.... and displays that stretch over the front several acres.... and then we can grow the fun stuff on the 30 back acres....

    This is perfect!!!! PERFECT!!!! And so fun! :)

    I'm so glad you posted this today!

    1. Ruthy, this place is just a couple blocks up the street from us and I think they're probably in their tenth or twelfth year. Of course, they started small, just selling the pumpkins and offering hayrides. It's been fun to watch them grow. Now they have scout troops coming in on weekdays after school, there's a pavilion people rent for birthday parties... The place is always packed. It just amazes me.

  2. Mindy, this looks AMAZING!!! I can't wait to try it. I love anything pumpkin. And anything caramel!!

    1. This ought to hit the spot then, Missy. ;)

  3. This sounds so decadent. I love pumpkin anything. Funny how I never think of baking with pumpkins except in the fall. Must try this cake.

    Our autumn has been funny. Warmer than normal so the garden has still been in bloom. Which is lovely but I need to cut things back and I hate to chop down flowers. This weeks it's really cold and there may even be snow by the end of the week so I'm scrambling to put that garden to bed in record time. Silly me for procrastinating. I new the cold would come. So I'm back out to the garden now. Toodles.

    1. Kav, fall is definitely pumpkin season. Pumpkins and apples. Hmm...don't think I've ever seen a recipe that contained both, though.

      Nonetheless, we have so many great fruits to choose from in the summer that our minds naturally gravitate to those. Guess it all goes back to what's in season, even though we can now find almost anything at any time of the year. They just ship it in from someplace where it is in season. But like you said a few weeks ago, there's nothing quite like a fresh LOCAL apple.

      Sounds like you've got your work cut out for you on your garden. No time to waste.

  4. Oh this looks so delish !!! Very Fall and Awesome have to give it a try !!
    Linda Marie Finn

    1. Linda Marie, it is dangerously delish. Which is why I made sure I people to help me eat it. ;-)

  5. Oh, Mindy!!!! This looks so good!!!!!!

    Want my address?

    1. Only if I get to come visit, Mary Cate. :D