Pumpkin Brandy Mousse Cake with Maple Whipped Cream Topping

I’ve already told you (I’m afraid more than once) about my relationship with pumpkin-based desserts. I like it, but only when the pumpkin is seriously diluted and lightened. This cake belongs to the same category “for pumpkin pie haters”. And this is my family’s favorite autumn cake.

Makes one 9-inch cake, about 16 servings

For the pumpkin cake layers:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (corn or canola)
  • 7 ½ oz (exactly ½-can) canned pumpkin puree (reserve the rest for the mousse)
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans (optional)

For the pumpkin brandy mousse:

  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 7 ½-oz (the remaining ½-can) canned pumpkin puree
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ cup brandy
  • 1 tbsp (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin
  • ½ cup fine granulated sugar
  • 1 oz water
  • ¾ cup whipping cream, cold

For the maple whipped cream topping:

  • 1 ¼ cups whipping cream
  • 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger for sprinkling

Make the pumpkin cake:

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans, knocking out the excess of the flour. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper circles. Set aside.

Sift or whisk the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a large liquid measuring cup whisk the oil, pumpkin puree, eggs, and vanilla extract until well combined. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Stir in the pecans if using. Divide the batter between the prepared baking pans and bake for about 25 minutes or until the cakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans on a cooling rack, then unmold and cool completely on the rack.

The cake layers can be made a day in advance and kept at room temperature well-wrapped.

Make the pumpkin mousse:

Line a 9-inch springform pan or a cake ring (place the ring on a serving platter or baking pan) with parchment paper or acetate strip. Fit a cardboard cake circle inside the ring if you plan to move the cake later. Fit in the first pumpkin cake layer inside the ring. Set aside.

Bring 1 inch of water to a light simmer in a wide skillet. Reduce the temperature to the lowest setting. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, pumpkin puree, salt, and spices. Set the bowl into the hot water. Whisk constantly until the temperature reaches 160F. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large clean bowl and cool until barely warm, stirring occasionally, to prevent skin forming.

Meanwhile, make Italian meringue: in a small saucepan combine the sugar and water and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring and heat the syrup to 244F. When the temperature of the sugar syrup reaches about 220F, start whipping the egg whites with the whisk attachment of the stand mixer. Once the egg whites form firm peaks and the syrup reaches 244F, pour the sugar syrup into the whites in a thin stream while continuing to whisk on high speed. Whip for 1 minute on high, then reduce the speed to medium and continue to whip until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The meringue should be thick and glossy.

While the meringue is whipping, pour the brandy into a small microwave-safe bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over. Let it sit for a couple of minutes, then melt it in a microwave or in a double boiler (do not boil). Whisk in about 2 tablespoons of the slightly warm pumpkin mixture into the melted gelatin, then whisk this mixture back into the pumpkin-egg yolk mixture, whisk well to thoroughly combine. Delicately fold the Italian meringue into the pumpkin base in two additions.

Whip the cream to medium peaks. Check the temperature of the pumpkin mixture. It should be no warmer than 85F. Gently fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture in two additions. Immediately, pour the mousse over the pumpkin cake layer in the ring. Refrigerate for an hour, and then place the second pumpkin cake on top of the mousse. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight before unmolding.

Make the topping:

In a large, chilled bowl whip the cream until soft peaks form. While still whipping, gradually beat in the maple syrup. Continue beating until firm peaks form, but don’t overdo. Spread or pipe the cream over the top of the unmolded cake. Sprinkle the crystallized ginger over the whipped cream topping right before serving.

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28 Responses to “Pumpkin Brandy Mousse Cake with Maple Whipped Cream Topping”

  1. That cake looks really good! Lovely flavors!



  2. Mouth watering. I wish I could smell the cake but then I wouldn’t be able to avoid to take a bite of my PC screen.

    Gorgeous photo.

  3. Sounds awesome and I love the plate!

  4. Looks lovely!
    Question though – I presume I can well do this with fresh (as opposed to canned) pumpkin? Do I just blizz the pumpkin flesh for that (possibly with a bit of water)?
    There’s no canned pumpkin in the shops here in Ireland, afaik. And I much prefer the fresh stuff, in any case.
    greetings from gaillimh :)

  5. What a perfect cut you got from this cake. Tasty indeed

  6. Mmmm! I love pumpkin pie, but I think I would still adore this as well :D

  7. That’s got “sinful” written all over it.

  8. So lovely. Just perfect for the holidays. Might even convert my pumpkin haters.

  9. Wow that’s the perfect holiday cake! It’s droolworthy!

  10. Pumpkin – it seems to be a flavour the American palate has a love affair with. It’s interesting that you don’t like pumpkin pie.

    I really don’t like pumpkin at all, however this dish looks really intriguing.

    In Australia and England, pumpkin is really only used in savoury dishes such as roast vegetables and an accompaniment to roast meat, as opposed to the sweet pies in America.

  11. Hola! me ha gustado mucho esta receta, bueno y tu blog entero…aquí no venden puré de calabaza enlatado…crees que valdría lo mismo hervirla y reducirla a puré? gracias y un beso

  12. We didn’t eat much pumpkin either where I grew up. Only in the form of a pickled and almost-sweet-but-not-really version and always along with savory stuff (like you’d eat cranberry sauce with turkey or apple sauce with pork etc.). But I do love pumpkin pie.
    I have pureed my own while not in the US. I just used a regular blender or a hand blender and the same liquid the pumpkin cooked in to make it the right consistency.

    This cake does look just as delicious as everything else you make and I think my husband would love the milder pumpkin taste.

  13. Lovely! Although I am not a Pumpkin Pie fan I love anthing mousse. So this I will definitely try out. Thank you for sharing.

  14. Wow! I love the thick layer of pumpkin mousse. Your layers look so perfect. Haha… I’m not a fan of pumpkin pie either, but it’s mostly because of the spices.

  15. Thank you very much, guys, for the great comments! You are too kind!

    Simone, Maria, I make the pumpkin puree myself occasionally, but it is time-consuming. Although the taste of the home-made stuff is certainly better. That’s how I make it: first, chop the pumpkin into large chunks, then wrap this chunks tightly into aluminum foil and bake at 400F for about 1hr-1hr30min or until the pumpkin is soft. Let it cool until you can handle it, scoop out the flesh into a food processor and puree until smooth. Then drain it for several hours in a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl or a sink. Alternatively, you can put the puree in a saucepan and cook it over medium heat, stirring, so the liquid evaporates. Once done and cooled, it can be stored in the fridge for 3 days or frozen for a month.

    Goldnsilver, my palate is not American, so it’s not really surprising I don’t quite get this pumpkin thing :)

  16. OMG, that looks incredible..one of the prettiest pumpkin cakes I’ve ever seen and it looks so delicious! I’ll be putting a pumpkin post up soon, and I wish I’d seen this cake before I was finished with my fresh pumpkin baking! Stunning!

  17. Wow! What a stunning cake!!

  18. I did it! I did it! OMG this was just heavenly. Yes I said “was” because it is gone already. I can’t believe pumkin anything could be this delicious. Thank you sooooo much!

  19. Beautiful as always, Vera. Great TG dessert, btw :o)

  20. Aw :( I’m gonna have to try this again, I just made the cakes and they are incredibly thin and uneven. I guess I need to smooth them out a bit better before baking.

  21. can i substitute brandy for some non alcoholic thing? Or maybe vodka will do?

  22. Thank you, everyone!

    Lynnette, I am so glad you liked it! Thank you very much for the feedback!

    Cat, something obviously went wrong in your case. Maybe you overbeat the batter? Treat it as muffin batter, don’t overwork it. How fresh is your baking powder?

    Lazy_Ducky, you can simply use water, without any sacrifice. I wouldn’t recommend vodka.

  23. I definitely didn’t overbeat, I’ll retry tonight with new baking powder :)


  24. Thanks for the recipe, Vera. It was a huge hit at Thanksgiving dinner.

  25. Oh my gosh this cake was the best. I served it at thanksgiving dinner and everyone loved it. The cake layers are thinner than a regular cake layer but i think its supposed to be that way. Make sure you smooth them well. Thank you for the great recipe.

  26. OMG- there are so many delicious posts here. Why have I not stopped by in like forever. Shame on me- I was missing so much.

  27. Hi, I wanted to make this on monday and eat it on monday night? Is that not possible due to the mousse needing time to sit? And also can this do without the cloves what would be different if I do not add them? And for checking the temperatures of the mixtures do I need to purcahse a candy thermometer?

  28. Vera I just wanted to thank you for this recipe! Just made it for the 2nd thanksgiving in a row. Was a huge hit last year. I can’t wait to try some of your other recipes now!

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