Monday, October 22, 2012

Caramel Pumpkin Pecan Cake!

Know what I love about this time of year?  Pumpkin EVERYTHING.  Pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin muffins…bring it on.  I will devour every. last. morsel.  However…while pumpkin itself is quite good for you (Vitamins A, C, B, & E, antioxidants, dietary fiber)…what we tend to make with it is typically rich, fatty, and sugar-laden.

I offer you a DELICIOUS alternative.

This recipe comes from my amazing friend/coworker Suzan.  Why is Suzan so amazing, you ask?  Well, aside from her decadently sarcastic & witty demeanor, and being one of the most experienced scientists in our company, she’s also lost over 100 pounds in the last year.  Yes, you read that right… OVER. ONE. HUNDRED. POUNDS.  No gastric bypass, no crazy diets, just the tried & true common sense “eat less, move more” methodology.   Or, what I call the “get off the couch & back away from the Krispy Kremes” method…which I could stand to implement a bit more in my own life.  (I currently have a Chefville addiction… *sigh*)

Anyway…Suzan has started her own wonderful blog which you can read HERE, and you should, because she cracks my schtuff up. For realz.  Go there.  (Then come back here…we have CAKE to discuss.)

…you’re back?  Great.  Now, in case you missed it…this recipe came from my awesome friend who just lost 100 lbs.  And she ate this cake while on this plan.  I won’t go so far as to say, “this cake will make you lose weight”…but you CAN eat it while implementing your own personal “eat less, move more” lifestyle change.  It originally comes from this Weight Watchers recipe*, but I modified it a LEEETLE bit to taste & based off Suzan’s recommendations.


Dear Reader: Please meet 217 calories of HEAVEN.

Ingredients: (makes 16 servings)

15 ounces canned pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling)
12 ounces fat-free evaporated milk
1/4 cup fat-free egg substitute (or 2 egg whites)
1/2 cup Splenda or other sugar substitute
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 box unprepared white cake mix - (18.25 oz; Check labels & pick the lowest calorie option, as there’s a lot of variety between mixes.  Best Choice ended up being the lowest at my store.)
1 cup pecan halves, chopped
1/4 cup reduced-calorie margarine – melted (if you have spray butter substitute, like the
Smart Balance spray, use this.  It makes it a lot easier to fully coat the top of the cake.)
2 tablespoons
Sugar-Free Caramel Topping

Sugar Free Whipped Cream (optional garnish)

More sugar-free caramel topping (optional garnish)



Heat your oven to 350F, and then lightly spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.

Mix the pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, and pie spice together in a large bowl, then pour into your cake pan.


Spread the dry boxed cake mix over the top of the pumpkin batter.  Use a spatula to press the cake mix down into the batter until the mix starts to become moist. (Note: If you leave any dry mix, it will still be dry after baking.  Just FYI.)


Next, sprinkle your chopped pecans on top, and then drizzle the margarine over as well.  Try to cover as much of the cake as possible with the margarine to get good buttery coverage. :D

IMG_2141 (In retrospect, I should have totally used Suzan’s suggestion about the spray bottle.  I ended up with a lot of dry cake batter on the top of mine.)


Now: this is where I deviate from the original recipe.  I have sugar-free caramel topping in the fridge.  And pumpkin & pecans just scream “GIMME CARAMEL!”, so I drizzled 2 tablespoons over the top.  I used a fork to get a really fine drizzle & good  coverage.


Bake uncovered for 50-60 minutes, let cool, then slice into 16 pieces (you’ll end up with pieces that measure about 2” x 3”).  The pecans, butter, caramel & dry cake mix combine to make a nice crispy, streusel-y topping.


Serve garnished with an extra sprinkle of pumpkin pie seasoning, a dollop of sugar-free whipped cream (if desired), and a wee drizzle of additional caramel sauce (about 1 tsp). 


NOTE: Whipped cream & extra drizzle of caramel sauce adds 25 calories to each serving.


*NOTE: try as hard as I might, I could NOT get my NutriFacts to match up with “86 calories” shown on the original recipe page, even after accounting for the slight recipe changes.  I double- and triple-checked all my ingredient stats, so my best guess is that they have a typo & their page should read “186 calories”.  The white cake mix alone is 127 calories/serving.

NutriFacts: (Weight Watchers Points per serving = 5)

Calories 192.8 (217 calories with whipped cream & addt’l caramel drizzle garnish)

  Total Fat 7.9 g

  Saturated Fat 1.3 g

  Polyunsaturated Fat 1.7 g

  Monounsaturated Fat 2.5 g

  Cholesterol 1.0 mg

  Sodium 243.8 mg

  Potassium 119.0 mg

  Total Carbohydrate 28.3 g

  Dietary Fiber 1.9 g

  Sugars 14.6 g

  Protein 4.5 g


  1. I love the things you added to the recipe- makes it sound even better! I am going to make this for Thanksgiving. Thanks Bobbilynne!

  2. I love all things pumpkin too! My husband thinks I am crazy! Pumpkin salsa, pumpkin ravioli, english muffins, bagels, donuts, beer...yum. This cake looks amazing!

  3. Pumpkin salsa? I've never heard of it! Share, share! :D

    1. I bought it at Aldi (of all places!) on a whim! It's suprisingly good with a little kick.

    2. Hrm! I think I'll have to swing by Aldis!