I’ve been dying to try a marble cake for awhile now and the thing that’s kept me from it was the thought of making two different cake batters. It sounded like too much effort just to have a pretty marble effect. BUT after some research it turns out there’s a way to make two different flavors from the same cake batter. A revolutionary idea! So in the spirit of Fall, I introduce to you my very first marble cake ever: pumpkin and chocolate swirled together in the same cozy cake layers.
This pumpkin chocolate marble cake is perfectly spiced, super moist, and so ideal for autumn baking. It starts with whipping up my favorite pumpkin layer cake batter, then you’ll reserve some of the batter to mix with melted semi-sweet chocolate. Since it’s mixed with the pumpkin cake batter, the chocolate cake batter ends up with spiced undertones and is so tasty. I didn’t realize how well pumpkin and chocolate went together until I made this cake and I’m so happy to know! Those two batters get swirled together to give the resulting cake layer a beautiful marbled effect.
I polled my Instagram followers about what frosting to pair with this pumpkin chocolate marble cake and the winner was brown butter frosting, which I was secretly hoping would win. Brown sugar frosting was a close second and if you’d rather go with that, this pumpkin pie layer cake includes a brown sugar frosting that you can use. But brown butter frosting, oh my. It is so tasty with these marbled cake layers! One of these days I’ll dedicate an entire blog post to it.
To make the brown butter frosting, you’ll add some of the butter into a frying pan, melt it over medium heat, and bring it to a simmer until it starts to turn foamy and light brown in color. It will start to smell nutty and you’ll see little brown bits forming. At this point you add it into a glass container and let it re-solidify before mixing it up into buttercream. It was my first time making brown butter frosting and I just can’t get over how tasty it is and those little brown bits in the buttercream finish make me swoon.
After filling and topping this pumpkin marble cake with brown butter frosting, I added a chocolate ganache curtain drip. This is where you pour the ganache on top of the chilled cake and use an offset spatula to push curtains of ganache over the edges. It’s a bit more of a rustic technique than my traditional chocolate ganache technique, and I just love it on this cake.
I tinted the remaining brown butter frosting with AmeriColor Burnt Orange and used Wilton Tips 6B and 4B to pipe a crescent of open stars. I wanted a little nod to the pumpkin flavor in this recipe without being too obvious. The real star of the show are the cake layers inside, so regardless of how you decorate, you’ll be super excited to cut into the cake and reveal all that marbling!
Pumpkin Chocolate Marble Cake with Brown Butter Frosting
Pumpkin Chocolate Marble Cake
- 4 Oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 3/4 Cups (290g) sifted cake flour
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 Cup (226g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 Cup (140g) packed brown sugar
- 1 Cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 Cups (360g, 12oz) canned pumpkin purèe
- 1 Cup (240g) full fat buttermilk* DIY recipe in notes
Brown Butter Buttercream Frosting
- 2 Cups (452g) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 7 Cups (840g) powdered sugar
- 1/4 Cup (60ml) whole milk or heavy whipping cream, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp salt
Chocolate Ganache Drip (optional)
- 1/4 Cup (46g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 Cup (60ml) heavy whipping cream
Make the Pumpkin Chocolate Marble Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare three 6-inch or two 8-inch cake pans by spraying the sides with cooking spray and placing a wax or parchment paper circle into the bottom of each one.
- Place the chocolate chips into a glass bowl and microwave in 15-20 second intervals, stirring after each one, until the chocolate is fully melted and uniform. Set aside to cool. Place the sifted cake flour into a medium sized bowl and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and ground ginger. Whisk together and set aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer (a handheld mixer works fine too!), cream the butter on high for two minutes until it's light and fluffy. Add in white and brown sugars and continue to mix on high for another two minutes, scraping down the bowl and paddle as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add pumpkin puree and vanilla and mix for one minute on medium-high, scraping down the bowl and paddle once more. It will look very curdled at this point, but don't worry! It will all come together after the next step.
- With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the buttermilk in a steady stream and mix until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and give it a few stirs to make sure there are no lumps. Batter will be slightly thick, but pourable.
- Reserve about 2 Cups of the pumpkin cake batter (about 500g) into a separate small bowl and whisk in the cooled melted chocolate until the batter is uniform.
- Place spoonfuls of the pumpkin cake batter and chocolate cake batter into each prepared cake pan and carefully swirl with a kitchen skewer or butter knife to create a marbled effect throughout the cake layer. Try not to over-swirl and make sure to fill each pan no more than 2/3 full. Bake for 32-36minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pan for ten minutes before removing and continuing to cool on a wire rack or flat surface.
Make the Brown Butter Buttercream Frosting
- Brown the butter: Add 1 Cup of the unsalted butter into a large frying pan and cook over medium heat until the butter melts, stirring occasionally. Continue cooking for another 6-7 minutes while stirring constantly. The melted butter will start to foam on top, then will turn light brown in color and smell deliciously nutty. Remove from heat at this point and transfer to a glass container. Allow it to re-solidify for about 2 hours at room temperature or place it into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. It should be completely room temperature and thick (about the consistency of a thick caramel) before continuing on with the buttercream recipe.
- Once the brown butter is room temperature, cream the other 1 Cup of unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high until creamy and light in color, about 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl and paddle as needed.
- Add the cooled brown butter and vanilla and mix on medium speed until uniform. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the powdered sugar a few cups at a time, scraping down the bowl and paddle after mixing in each addition. Add the milk and salt and continue mixing on low speed until smooth.
Make the Chocolate Ganache (Optional)
- Place chocolate chips into a heat resistant bowl (glass or metal). In a saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the heavy whipping cream until it just starts to simmer, then pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for about 30 seconds.
- Whisk together until the ganache is uniform in consistency and there are no bits of chocolate left on your whisk. Cool the ganache at room temperature for 10-20 minutes, or until the ganache itself is room temperature or slightly above.
- To create the design pictured, use the brown butter frosting to create a smooth finish on the cake, then refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes before dripping the cake with a curtain drip of chocolate ganache (pour the cooled ganache over the top of the cake and use an offset spatula to nudge it over the edges).
- Place the cake back into the refrigerator to let the ganache set while you tint the remaining brown butter frosting burnt orange (I used AmeriColor Burnt Orange for this part). Divide the frosting between two piping bags, one fitted with Wilton Tip 6B and one fitted with Wilton Tip 4B. Pipe open stars in a crescent formation around the top of the cake.
- The cake layers can be made ahead and stored, wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to two days. Alternatively, you can store the wrapped cake layers in the freezer for up to 2 months before thawing and frosting.
- The brown butter can be made ahead and stored in a glass jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When you’re ready to use it, let it sit at room temperature until softened.
- The brown butter buttercream frosting can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When you’re ready to use it, bring it back to room temperature and re-whip in your stand mixer to bring back to smooth buttercream consistency.
- The chocolate ganache can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When you’re ready to use it, bring it back to drip consistency by gently heating it in 15-20 second intervals in the microwave, stirring after each one, until it becomes room temperature or slightly above.
This pumpkin chocolate marble cake recipe is so perfect for any Fall gathering! I hope you love it as much as I do. Let me know what you think in the comments below and feel free to tag @sugarandsparrowco on Instagram if you post a pic! I love to see what you create.