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This Pumpkin Chocolate Mousse Cake is a stunning 4-layer dessert with chocolate cake, cinnamon mousse, pumpkin-butterscotch mousse, and salted caramel mousse! Finished with a layer of shiny chocolate ganache and whipped cream, it’s a total show stopper!
First things first: the REAL name for this cake should probably be “Pumpkin Cinnamon Butterscotch Salted Caramel Chocolate Mousse Cake.” I really wanted to call it that. I mean, yeah, it’s a mouthful, but this cake is so good, so packed full of warm and toasty cinnamon/butterscotch/caramel/pumpkin flavors, it seemed a shame to leave any of them out.
And then I came to my senses and realized that ain’t nobody got time for a novella of a name when it comes to cakes. So just please know that “Pumpkin Chocolate Mousse Cake” does this cake a huge disservice, because we are cramming every flavor we can think of into this glorious autumn-inspired cake.
Don’t be put off by all the elements, though. This cake is simple to make, because all of the mousse layers are made exactly the same way! Don’t believe me? Just check out this video showing how easy it is…
A few years ago I created this Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake. (Sidenote: have you made it yet?! If not, add it to your baking bucket list stat!) It quickly became one of the most popular recipes on my site, and I’ve heard from literally hundreds of people who have made it and loved it. I’ve also gotten lots of requests for adapting it for different flavors. I mean, chocolate and raspberry are classics, but it does seem to be sort of a spring-summer cake, since it is best when made with fresh raspberries.
So this year, I decided to give that mousse cake a facelift and recreate it with FALL flavors! The basic premise remains the same, although I did swap out the brownie layer for a cake layer this time around, and all of the mousse layers are different as well.
Here’s what we have, going from bottom to top: chocolate cake, cinnamon mousse, pumpkin-butterscotch mousse, salted caramel mousse, chocolate ganache, whipped cream, and cute lil chocolate pumpkin truffles.
I LOVE the ombre effect of the different mousse layers, and guess what?! I didn’t need o use any food coloring to get this look! I mean, yes, cinnamon and butterscotch chips most likely already have food coloring in them, but I didn’t use additional coloring, meaning that anyone can recreate this exact effect without worrying about variables like what brand of coloring, how much to add, etc.
Can we talk about these adorable pumpkin truffle toppers for a minute? I found them at Trader Joe’s! They’re filled with either ganache or caramel, and each color is a different flavor. I looked for a source online and couldn’t find one, so my apologies if you’re not able to track them down. This cake would still look amazing with other candies on top, or perhaps chocolate curls or even pumpkin sprinkles.
Like my Chocolate Raspberry Mousse cake, this one is a dream to slice. If you use a hot (and dry!) knife, and a chilled cake, you’ll get clean, even layers and a slice that’s easy to move onto individual plates. I do recommend letting it sit for maybe 10 minutes before eating, just so the cake layer isn’t ice-cold, but this is a dessert that’s best enjoyed slightly chilled. The mousse won’t collapse and lose its shape if left longer, but there’s something about room temperature mousse that’s a little unappealing to me.
Long story short, this is a great make-ahead dessert that can hang out in the fridge for several days before serving!
I know we’re all anxious to move into Christmas baking, and Candy! Cane! Everything!, and believe you me, I’m contemplating coming out with a candy cane version of this cake as well. But I do think there’s still a little time to enjoy fall desserts before we turn our kitchens into a perpetual peppermint wonderland, and I hope you’ll give this mousse cake a try.
What You’ll Need to Make Pumpkin Chocolate Mousse Cake:
- Cake pan with removable bottom: you can either use a pan like this (my faaaavorite for baking cakes!) or use a springform pan. Either way, make sure you have an easy way of getting the finished cake out of the pan that DOESN’T rely on flipping it upside down!
- Clear cake collars: These are a MUST for getting those smooth, even sides! As a bonus, you can wash and re-use them, and they’re great for making chocolate borders around cakes, too!
- Cake cardboards: I always have a huge supply of these on hand! They make assembling and transferring cakes SO much easier.
- Pumpkin puree: duh! Make sure you get pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling, which has sugar and other ingredients added.
More Chocolate Cakes You’ll Love
- Box of Chocolates Cake
- Mint Chocolate Chip Layer Cake
- Chocolate Candy Cane Cake
- Black Forest Cake
- Chocolate Orange Cake
Pumpkin Chocolate Mousse Cake
For the Chocolate Cake:
- 2 oz butter, at room temperature
- 1.75 oz granulated sugar, (1/4 cup)
- 1.75 oz brown sugar, (1/4 cup)
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 fl oz buttermilk, (1/2 cup), at room temperature
- 2.66 oz all-purpose flour, (2/3 cup)
- 1 oz unsweetened cocoa powder, (1/3 cup)
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
For the Pumpkin Cinnamon Mousse Layer:
- 9 oz cinnamon chips
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided use
- 1/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
- Pinch salt
- 2 tsp unflavored powdered gelatin
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the Pumpkin Butterscotch Mousse Layer:
For the Salted Caramel Mousse Layer:
For the Chocolate Ganache on Top:
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- Whipped cream
- Candy of your choosing
To Make the Chocolate Cake:
- Line a 9-inch cake pan with parchment, and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Add the butter and both sugars to the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat them together on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and vanilla extract, and beat well until they’re fully incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer running on low, add a quarter of the sifted flour mixture. When the flour streaks have almost all disappeared, add a third of the buttermilk to the mixing bowl. When that’s incorporated, continue to add the drys and wets in an alternating pattern, ending with the dry ingredients.
- When the dry ingredients are nearly incorporated, stop the mixer. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and finish mixing the cake by hand. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. Bake the cake for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Cool the cake completely before using.
To Make the Mousse Layers:
- Prepare your pan. You need a 9-inch pan with sides at least 3 inches tall, and the ability to remove the bottom. Either a cake pan with a removable bottom or a springform pan will work. Line the inner wall with a 4-inch high acetate cake collar or a strip of aluminum foil or waxed paper. Make sure the acetate or waxed paper is long enough so that it overlaps itself, and if you are using foil/waxed paper, make sure you cut the strip tall enough to extend at least an inch over the pan’s sides, since the cake is about 4 inches tall.
- Place a cake cardboard in the bottom of the pan, then carefully place the baked cake on top of the cardboard. This is optional, but it makes it easy to transfer the cake cleanly and neatly to your serving plate.
- Prepare the cinnamon mousse layer: combine the cinnamon chips, pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup of cream, and salt in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring every 30 seconds, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour it into a large bowl, and let it cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
- While you wait for the cinnamon mixture to cool, prepare the gelatin. Whisk together the gelatin and the cold water in a small bowl, and set it aside to let the gelatin absorb the water. When the cinnamon is at room temperature, microwave the bowl of gelatin for 15 seconds, until it is melted. Whisk the melted gelatin and cinnamon mixture together, and whisk in the ground cinnamon.
- Whip the remaining 1 cup heavy cream to firm peaks. Fold half of the whipped cream into the cinnamon, and once it’s incorporated, gently fold in the remaining whipped cream. Scrape the mousse on top of the cake, and spread it into an even layer. Refrigerate the cake for 25 minutes, until the mousse has started to set and is firm enough that a second layer can be added.
- For the pumpkin-butterscotch mousse, combine the butterscotch chips, pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup of heavy cream, and salt in a microwave-safe bowl. Continue to make this layer the same way you made the cinnamon layer, by melting and cooling the butterscotch mixture, whisking in the melted gelatin, and folding in whipped cream. When the pumpkin-butterscotch mousse is ready, pour it over the cinnamon mousse layer. Spread it into an even layer, and refrigerate again.
- Finally, prepare the salted caramel layer. Combine the salted caramel chips (or white chocolate chips), 1/2 cup heavy cream, salted caramel, salt, and vanilla in a microwave-safe bowl. Continue to make this layer the same way you made the previous two layers. Pour it over the pumpkin-butterscotch mousse, and refrigerate to set the mousse layers for at least 30 minutes.
- Make a quick chocolate ganache by putting the chopped chocolate in a small bowl and heating the cream to a simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and whisk gently until the chocolate melts and you have a smooth, shiny mixture. If it is very hot, let it cool slightly so it’s still warm and spreadable, but not so hot that it will melt the mousse. Pour the ganache over the top of the cake, and use a spatula to nudge it right to the edge and spread it in an even layer. Refrigerate the cake for at least 4 hours or overnight, so that the mousse layers can be very firm when slicing.
- To finish the cake, push the bottom out from the pan, or unhinge the sides, and unwrap the acetate strip. Transfer the cake to your serving platter. Pipe rosettes of whipped cream around the edges, and sprinkle the cream with a bit of cinnamon. Top the rosettes with chocolate candies or chocolate curls, or leave them plain.
- For the cleanest slices, cut the cake when it is well chilled. Use a large sharp knife, and wash it frequently between cuts. For the best taste and texture, allow the cake slices to sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.Click here to learn more about baking measurements and conversion.