Butterscotch Pumpkin Cake

This cake starts out with melted butterscotch chips and just gets better from there. It is moist and chewy and almost brownie-like, except for the copious amounts of creamy vanilla frosting on top. This is pumpkin dessert at its finest, my friends.
Butterscotch Pumpkin Cake | TheFoodCharlatan.com

Did you guys know that on Talk Like a Pirate Day you can go to Krispy Kreme dressed up like a pirate and get a dozen donuts? A DOZEN!

My brother’s wife told him this in passing a few weeks ago, like a “wouldn’t that be fun” kind of comment. But Eric (my brother, not my husband) decided that this was happening, and proceeded to buy fake earrings, leather shirt straps, and fake parrots to legitimize their entire family’s pirate-ness. Don’t they look awesome?

Butterscotch Pumpkin Cake

I wish I had been there when they tried to put makeup on the boys. “You can put the stuff on the hairs of my eyes, but not the smudgy stuff” (eyeliner).

Butterscotch Pumpkin Cake | TheFoodCharlatan.com

Right after Eric sent me this photo, he texted me about this cake.

“Have you posted your pumpkin square recipe yet? I was bragging about them to someone.”
“No, I will soon. I’m so sad that it looks just like every other pumpkin cake out there. No one will know.”
“Hahaha. You should use big red photoshop arrows to point out all its awesomeness.”
“Yes. HERE’S the frosting. HERE’S the cake. It’s so original it will blow your mind!!”

Butterscotch Pumpkin Cake

Clearly you can see why this cake is awesome now? Really guys, I wish you could taste this one. The day I made it, I happened to have a lot of people pass through the house. My cousin Lani tried it and made me email her the recipe immediately because she couldn’t wait for it to be posted. Later, Eric and his wife Sandi came over. “What is this???” Pumpkin. “I hate pumpkin. This is amazing.”

It’s like cake, kinda, because it has frosting. But it’s like a brownie, because it’s thick and chewy. And then the base is melted butterscotch chips, so there’s this caramel-y crust on the edges.

Butterscotch Pumpkin Cake | TheFoodCharlatan.com

And did I mention that it’s super easy? You don’t even need a mixer for the cake part, only for the frosting. Oh, and speaking of the frosting. Well. See above photo with the arrows. It should explain everything.

Do you guys give up? Or are you thirsty for more?
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Butterscotch Pumpkin Cake

Yield: 9 servings


    For the cake:
  • 3/4 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons plain pumpkin puree
  • 1 and 3/4 cup flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • For the frosting:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or regular vanilla)
  • about 5 teaspoons milk
  • dash salt, if you want


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8 inch square pan with parchment paper, or grease well. Set aside.
  2. In a large microwaveable mixing bowl, add butterscotch chips and butter. Melt in the microwave in 30 second increments until the mixture is smooth. (It may take a bit of stirring; see photos below. I used a whisk toward the end.)
  3. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the sugar and pumpkin puree.
  4. Add the flour to the bowl, but don't mix it in yet. Add the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt, and stir that into the flour with a dry spoon. Then stir the flour into the rest of the mixture. Don't overmix, just stir until it's combined.
  5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 27-29 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, make the frosting. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter for about 1 minute until it is fluffy. (If you haven't softened it, make it 2-3 minutes.)
  7. Add 1 cup of the powdered sugar and combine. Add the vanilla and 3 teaspoons of milk.
  8. Beat in the remaining powdered sugar. Add a little more milk if it is stiff. Add a dash of salt if it is too sweet for you.
  9. Beat well, scraping down the sides, before spreading it on the top of the cooled cake.
  10. Sprinkle with additional pumpkin pie spice, if desired.


This cake is really easy to double and bake in a 9x13 inch pan. Also, this is a generous amount of frosting; you may not need all of it. (I mean, I do, but that's me.) If you are doubling the cake, I would only make 1 1/2 the amount of frosting: 3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) salted butter, 2 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or regular vanilla), about 2-3 tablespoons milk, and a pinch of salt, if you want.


Source: The Food Charlatan. Melted chip idea from these Lemon Lemonies by Averie Cooks.

Butterscotch Pumpkin Cake | TheFoodCharlatan.com

On the left is how your butterscotch and butter mixture should look after it’s combined. On the right is all the batter mixed together. Try to ignore my daughter’s pink bowl in the background :)

Other fall recipes…It’s time, guys!

Maple Cheesecake with Roasted Pears:

Maple Cheesecake with Roasted PearsPumpkin Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Pumpkin Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip CookiesPumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Caramel Frosting: (from back in the day!)

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Caramel Frosting

Other pumpkin recipes from around the blogosphere:

Pumpkin French Toast from Cooking Classy
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting from Love from the Oven
Starbucks Pumpkin Pound Cake from Something Swanky





  1. says

    I just wrote today about my body’s craving for pumpkin and squash, despite not really liking those food items. But frosting, well that’s a game changer. I think I could eat pumpkin if there’s frosting involved.
    Ami recently posted…Fall is my favorite.My Profile

  2. says

    Looks absolutely amazing, Karen! I’m going crazy for all the pumpkin recipes because that’s just what I do this time of the year. This is definitely one I’m going to try out! :)

  3. says

    Your brother is freaking awesome! He and his family better have gotten the free dozen donuts. Is this a regular thing at Krispy Kreme?! If it is, he better go every time to get his pirate costume money’s worth. I laughed when I saw the photo of the cake with the arrows. Girl, this is definitely not your ordinary cake. Look at how rich, moist ‘n fudgy it is! It’s like a pumpkin pie and a brownie/blondie made sweet love and this is their kick ass love child.
    Nancy @ gottagetbaked recently posted…Random Crap: Book Edition and Apricot Jam Crumble BarsMy Profile

  4. says

    You are the most awesome family in the history of the planet. I can’t believe your brother bought costumes AND put on eyeliner and mascara all for free donuts!! Does he know about tin foil and Chipotle for Halloween? Because I could totally see him going all out for that too. ;) And you are way too cute with your red arrows!! I’m totally pinning this twice — the second time just so I can use that image and hope that it goes as viral as your red nail polish and cucumber! (Don’t you just love food blogger friends… ;) ) Totally wish I could’ve taste tested this one for you!!
    Amy @ Amy’s Healthy Baking recently posted…Baked Snickerdoodle Donut HolesMy Profile

  5. Gretchen says

    I just made two pans of this cake for a my church’s Fall Festival. If my quality check is any indication, I think I will be bringing home empty pans. I didn’t use your frosting recipe. I didn’t have enough butter. I made a cinnamon cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with some chopped pecans. I am already looking for an excuse to make this again.

  6. Carrie says

    I bought everything to make your pumpkin cake. It sounds so yummy and looks like it will hand a very. moist texture witch I love. But I the only one in the that loves pumpkin. Do you think. I could freeze the cake. ??? Thanks. Carrie

    • says

      Hi Carrie! Looks like you will have the cake to yourself! Sounds perfect to me! :) Yes the cake is totally freezable, as are most cakes. After you have baked the cake and frosted it, cut it into squares. Place the squares on a baking sheet (separated) and put it in the freezer for about an hour (set a timer!) Then place each frozen square into a ziplock bag and return to the freezer. To thaw, let sit on the counter until defrosted. My friend Dorothy just posted a great article on how to freeze desserts, check it out here. Hope you love the cake Carrie!

  7. Tia says

    I want to be sure that there are no eggs in this recipe? Also, my batter didn’t look thin like yours. I put 1 3/4 cups of flour and my batter was more dough-like.

    • says

      Hi Tia! Yep, no eggs! The pumpkin acts as the egg in this recipe. It doesn’t rise much, honestly, that’s what makes it so dense and fudge-like. The batter is definitely dough-like. See the photo on the right just below the recipe. Hope it turns out well Tia!

      • Tia says

        Thank you for the quick response. I made it this morning and actually it was a dough. I had to mold it in my pan. I will try again tonight and just scoop the flour into the measuring cups. I packed it like I would for other recipes. It still taste great though! =)

        • says

          Oh good I’m glad it turned out! When I say “spooned and leveled” after flour on the ingredient list, that’s what I mean, scoop flour into the measuring cups. Thanks for the review Tia!


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