pumpkin burnt sugar cake with butterscotch pecan filling and chocolate molasses glaze

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I need to figure out how to name things without feeling like I have to include every single ingredient in the title. I guess I could just call this the Pumpkin BS Cake with Molasses Glaze. But I guess that wouldn’t really work, would it?


I found a recipe for burnt sugar cake in the sixth edition of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, dated 1981. Why do I have a cookbook from 1981? In a nutshell, someone was going to throw it away. And I thought it might be useful someday. And since that was about 3 years ago, I thought that someday would be today. I learned from the internet that this cake originated sometime in the 20s and 30s, but was possibly more popular in the 50s.

I decided that it needed to be “beefed up”, and/or “autumnized” with–what else–pumpkin! The result is a sweet and salted caramel flavored pumpkin cake that is moist, crunchy, nutty, and somewhat dense like pound cake. Doesn’t that sound good? I’m fairly happy with it. The only thing I might do differently next time (if there is a next time) is to multiply the butterscotch pecan filling ingredients by one and a half. I only had 2 cups and felt I could’ve used an extra half cup for each layer of filling. That and maybe serve it with a dollop of whipped cream.

Anyways, I hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

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Pumpkin burnt sugar cake (adapted from and inspired by Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, sixth edition, 1981. Cake can be made into 2 9-inch round pans, or one 10 by 15 inch sheet pan, which is what I used.)


1 cup white sugar, separated

1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 cup boiling water

2 eggs, separated

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 dashes of Angostura bitters (optional)

2 Tablespoons Whiskey or Bourbon (optional; I used Jack Daniels, hehe)

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

2 1/4 cup All-purpose Flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk


Heat 1/2 cup of the 1cup white sugar, and lemon juice in skillet, stirring constantly with a whisk. It should look like coarse sand. As you stir, also break down lumps with whisk.

Making the burnt sugar syrup

When sugar has reached golden brown, remove from heat. Slowly pour the 1/2 cup boiling water. Be extra careful as you pour the water, which disrupts the cooking process, and much steam and bubbles arise. Whisk as you pour, but protect hand with a glove, or just be quick to move your hand out of the way, if needed. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Place back on heat, but on low heat, stirring constantly, until any sugar lumps are dissolved. You should have about 1/2 cup. If not, add a little water to it. Cool. Add to milk, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour cake pans. You can use 2 9-inch round cake pans, or use what I used, which was a 10 by 15 by 1 inch (height) rectangular sheet pan. Use parchment paper for bottom, and grease and flour again. I used Pam non-stick butter spray with flour, which worked fine. I didn’t spray it until right before pouring the batter into the pan.

Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and salt together into a bowl, and whisk until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.

In medium bowl, beat egg whites on medium with a handheld mixer until frothy. Add 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar, and beat on high, gradually adding the remaining 1/2 cup of white sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until egg whites are stiff and glossy. Do not underbeat.

In separate large bowl, beat butter with brown sugar to cream, using a rubber spatula from time to time to scrape sides of bowl. Add egg yolks, one at a time, until thoroughly mixed in. Add vanilla, bitters, and Whiskey, if desired. Beat until mixed in.

Add the pumpkin puree and blend until incorporated.

Alternate mixing in the flour mixture with the milk/syrup mixture, starting and ending with the flour, and beating on high with hand-held mixer, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed between additions.

When flour and milk as been thoroughly mixed in, fold in one third of the egg whites until there are no more white streaks, then add the rest of the egg whites and fold in carefully until there are no white streaks of egg whites.

Pour batter into pan and level with small offset spatula. Bake for about 20 minutes until toothpick comes back clean, and surfaces doesn’t look wet or tacky. Watch closely to avoid being overbaked.

When baked, remove and place on cooling rack for 10 minutes, then carefully invert and revert, using another cooling rack. Cool completely before cutting with serrated knife into three smaller rectangles of equal dimensions. If using the 10 by 15 sheet pan, you should then cut the sheet cake into three equal pieces measuring 5 by 10 inches, and about an inch in height, each. Remove parchment paper. These will be made into a three layer cake, using butterscotch pecan filling and chocolate molasses glaze.

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I didn’t put my glove all the way, and one of the extended fingers of the glove caused this crater. It’s all good, though, just flip, or cover with filling!

Butterscotch pecan filling (adapted from Marcel Desaulniers book, Death by Chocolate)


3/4 cup whipping cream

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 4 1-ounce pieces

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 Tablespoons whiskey (optional)

1 cup pecans, toasted, chopped into 1/8-inch pieces


Heat cream until almost boiling. Set aside, but keep that temperature, but not simmering or boiling. Remove from heat if it gets too hot and starts to boil. Heat 3/4 cup sugar in saucepan with lemon juice in medium-high heat, whisking constantly. It will look like coarse sand, initially, but will eventually start to melt. There may be lumps, but you can break them down with the whisk.

Remove from heat when light brown. Add the hot cream, one half at a time, and again, watch for steam and bubbles, being careful to avoid the steam burning your hand as you whisk the cream and sugar to combine.

Add the butter, one piece at a time, stirring to melt and incorporate before adding the next piece. Add the vanilla and whiskey, if desired, and stir to combine.

Place bowl in refrigerator for about an hour. After cooled down, beat on high with a hand-held mixer for about a minute. It should be lighter in color. Add toasted and chopped pecans and stir to incorporate. Place back in refrigerator if it gets too soft. You want it to be cold, but still spreadable. Make chocolate molasses glaze.

Chocolate molasses glaze


4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

4 ounces unsalted butter

5 Tablespoons molasses (I used Grandma’s brand Original)

1 teaspoons vanilla


Place chopped chocolate and butter in a bain marie over medium heat, stirring occasionally until melted. Do not overheat. Remove when butter is just almost all melted. No need to wait until completely melted. Whisk until smooth. Add molasses and vanilla and whisk until smooth and combined. Let cool somewhat. You do not want it too hot, but you also don’t want to wait until it’s not pourable. If you do, just put in the microwave until slightly warm to the touch and pourable. Note: I like molasses, but know that there are many that do not like it. If you don’t want to be hit on the head with it, you can decrease the molasses in this glaze to 1-2 Tablespoons.

Cake Assembly:

Place first cake layer on cake plate or platter. Place half of the filling (which was one cup this time; multiply the ingredients for the filling by 1.5 to get 1.5 cups between the first two cake layers.

Add second cake layer, followed by the rest of the filling and the third cake layer. I used the cake layers upside-down, because they were a lot smoother and easier to use that way. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate to keep the filling from getting too soft.

Spoon the glaze over the cake and allow it to pour over the sides. From here you can either just slice it up and serve, or if you prefer, you can put it in the fridge for an hour, which makes it easier to slice with clean edges, using a large knife. You can trim the edges of each side of the cake by a half inch, making it a 14 x 4 rectangle. If not eating right away, put in fridge for several minutes to solidify the glaze on top first before wrapping with plastic and foil to store in the fridge.

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6 thoughts on “pumpkin burnt sugar cake with butterscotch pecan filling and chocolate molasses glaze

  1. You should know how much I usually struggle with naming the things I cook. By the time I post a recipe, I’m probably at the tenth revision and sometimes I end up where I originally started. They are times when I delay posting a recipe for days because I feel the title is not just right (LOL)..you are not alone on this one. The procedure for the burnt sugar cake sounds long, but the end product looks very delicious especially with the addition of butterscotch pecan filling and chocolate molasses glaze. If only I could eat it right of your screen it would save me the agony of wondering “HOW” it tasted. Thanks so much for sharing! enjoy the rest of the week!


    • Thanks for that. I wonder how others deal with the naming aspect of all this. Good to know I’m not the only one agonizing over what to call things. About how this tasted, it reminded me of maybe a pumpkin blondie, except maybe it was moister than a less dense. It reminded me of fruitcake in terms of mouthfeel, but softened up after I let it sit out after chilling in the fridge for a day. Enjoy the rest of the week as well!


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