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Great Pumpkin Pinata Cake with candy spilling out

Great Pumpkin Pinata Cake

Can you think of anything more exciting than to cut into a huge Pumpkin Spice Cake to find it full of candy? Neither can I. With this whimsical recipe and method, you can make that magic happen.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 12
Calories 178kcal
Author Toni Dash


Ingredients for the Pumpkin Cake:

  • Favorite scratch recipe or box mix for Spice or Pumpkin Cake for a 2 layer cake.

Ingredients for Orange-colored Vanilla Glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted Butter , melted
  • Food Coloring (I prefer India Tree Dyes which are all natural and plant-based)

Ingredients for Chocolate Ganache glaze:

  • 8 ounces Semi Sweet quality Chocolate Chips
  • ½ cup Heavy Whipping Cream

Ingredients for the cake Filling:

  • 2 cups Halloween Candy see notes
  • Garnish (if desired): Colored sprinkles (I used India Tree Dye green) and a turdinado sugar cube for the stem


Instructions for the Pumpkin Cake:

  • Preheat oven to temperature specified in the recipe being used (generally 350 degrees). Prepare the pumpkin pan as instructed on package. Though it is a non-stick pan, I recommend preparing it with no stick spray. I would not grease and flour it so the flour does not show on the outside of the cake.
  • Prepare cake batter as instructed. Pour half of the batter into each pumpkin half pan and insert into the oven. Bake as specified in recipe being used for layer cakes. Note: mine baked 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees. When cake is golden on top and toothpick comes out clean, cake is done.
  • Place cake on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Place a cooling rack right side facing the opening of the pumpkin pans. Gently invert the rack and pan so the rack is on the bottom and the cake pan on top. Gently shake the pan and rack allowing the cakes to release onto the rack. Allow to cool fully. Note: when I made my cake I allowed the cake to cool too long in the pan and could not release it. I stuck it back into the oven for 3-4 minutes at 350 degrees and was able to release it from the pan.
  • While the cake is cooking, prepare the Vanilla Glaze and Chocolate Ganache.

To prepare the Chocolate Ganache:

  • Using a double-boiler or a large pan of boiling water and a heatproof metal boil placed in it, combine the cream and chocolate chips. Stir or whisk frequently as the chocolate begins to melt. Whisk well at the end to form the creamy ganache. Reduce heat of boiling water to very low and allow the ganache to remain in the boil until using so it remains able to be drizzled.

*To prepare the Vanilla Glaze

  • Combine all ingredients EXCEPT food coloring, in the bowl of a freestanding mixer (or a mixing bowl if using a handheld mixer). Mix on high to fully combine. Glaze should be a medium texture allowing drizzling. If desired, add food coloring to tint the glaze orange (1 part red to ¾ parts yellow).
  • Once the cake is fully cooled, if the flat sides of the cake halves are very uneven, a serrated knife can be used to make each flat side of the cake even.
  • Place the bottom half of the cake on a firm surface with the decorative side facing down (the flat inside half facing upwards). With a large spoon, gently create a hollow in the bottom half of the cake (from the flat side) leaving a boundary of 1 1/2 inches around the sides and bottom of the cake to maintain the structure (or is could break). {see photo below}
  • Place the top half of the pumpkin on a firm surface with the decorative side down (the flat half of the cake facing upwards). With a large spoon, create a hollow out an inch indentation in the top of the cake. The candy inside the cake will be rounded at the top and having a portion of the top of the cake scooped out will allow more candy to fit inside the cake.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine all selected Halloween candy and mix well!
  • Place the bottom of the cake, decorative side down on serving plate. Scoop candy into the indentation of the bottom pumpkin half, mounding the candy at the top.
  • With a kitchen knife or frosting spreader, spread a layer of chocolate ganache along the flat edge of the bottom half of the pumpkin cake. This is designed to seal the cake so the ganache layer does not need to be overly thick. My goal was to not see it. Gently place the top of the pumpkin, flat side down, on top of the ganache careful to match the outside pattern of the pumpkin between the top and bottom layers.

How to Glaze the Cake

  • Drizzle the chocolate ganache and vanilla glaze over the pumpkin, beginning at the top allowing it to drip down the height of the pumpkin. Additional sprinkles may be used if desired and I used a natural turbinado sugar cube (rustic and brown) as a small stem. Allow glaze to fully set before cutting the cake!


Gluten-Free Note: My experience with gluten-free baking is that for cakes and bread they need to be fully cooled to hold their structure well. This cake could even be baked one day, cooled and kept in the refrigerator well wrapped to maintain freshness until the next day to complete the cake stuffing, sealing and glazing.
OVERALL time is an estimate and will vary depending on the length of baking required for your selected cake mix and full cooling time. The preparation and cake construction are not very time consuming.
Here are two ‘from scratch’ recipes designed specifically to work with this pumpkin cake pan: Williams Sonoma Spiced Pumpkin Cak (came with the pan) and Country Living Pumpkin Spice Pecan Cake
(if using the cake pan featured here) of a mixture of Halloween candy. I used a mix of the following: Fall colored milk chocolate M & M’s, White chocolate Candy Corn M & M’s, Caramel Apple Sugar Babies (bright green), Brach’s Pumpkin Spice Candy Corn (fall colors), Brach’s regular Candy Corn, Pumpkins, Gummy Worms


Calories: 178kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 18mg | Potassium: 12mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 225IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 0.2mg