Halloween has always been one of my favorite days of the year. As I get older and feel less enthused about staying out all night and wearing a t-shirt and shorts in cool fall weather, the part that excites me more now is really celebrating the fall season. The pumpkins, gourds, apple cider, and earthy colors ease the looming anxiety that winter is coming, and the days will offer little daylight. I still enjoy dressing up- this year, I ran in a costume dash and baked several pies after finishing.
Halloween also reminds me that fall is a season of dying. In many ways, death looks glamorous in the fall. The splendid leaves that burst in reds, yellows, and oranges on the trees that were lush green only weeks before are indeed dying, and eventually will fall to the ground. Once the harvest concludes, we face the end of outside activities- for the next few months, most everything we do will be inside in the warmth. The month of November in particular reminds me to be mindful of those I and the people close to me have lost. Every year, one of my friends has lost a loved one in November. Given the end of light and many crops, it makes sense that naturally, November would be a month of ends of lives as well.
In honor of Halloween and remembering my Grandma Mary, who passed away four years ago in early fall, here is a recipe for a decadent dessert you can make any time of the year, but is particularly special with a warm cup of Mexican hot chocolate (which really, is hot chocolate) and some warm socks. A Blessed Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos to everyone!
Pumpkin Chocolate Tres Leches Cake with Maple Syrup Frosting
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1-3/4 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons Hersheys Special Dark cocoa powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 14-oz can pumpkin puree
- 3/4 cup evaporated milk
- 3/4 sweetened condensed milk
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon maple extract
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 4-5 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a 13×9 in. pan.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.
- Add the eggs one at a time to the butter and sugar mixture, mix until combined.
- Now, alternate adding the flour mixture with the pumpkin puree to the mixer in 3 increments.
- Pour cake batter into greased pan. Bake for 30 minutes.
- Let cake cool for at least 30 min. Once cool enough, poke several holes with a straw or anything that will make enough space for the leches.
- Mix together the evaporated milk, condensed milk, heavy cream, and maple extract.
- Pour mixture over the cake and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
- To make icing, cream together butter and shortening on medium speed.
- Add 4 cups of the powdered sugar gradually, one cup at a time.
- Add the maple syrup. If needed for consistency, add the last cup of powdered sugar.
- Mix in the vanilla extract.
- Once the leches have settled, frost the cake.
- Garnish with chopped pecans, if you like!