Chocolate Canned Pumpkin Snack Cake Recipe

If you’re looking for a canned pumpkin recipe, this recipe is for you. The chocolate cake features canned pumpkin, perfect to make when pumpkin is on sale at Halloween and Thanksgiving.

I have a confession. There are days that I bake and photograph food, but ultimately forget I’ve either baked or photographed it. Early Alzheimer’s? I’m not ruling it out. Take these moist sesame and chocolate snack cakes which I made … months ago, maybe even a year ago. They’ve remained hidden in my folder system until I stumbled across them the other day.

At the time, it’s possible I decided not to publish the photos for fear of being linked to Sandra Lee due to the nature of the recipe. You see, this isn’t really a snack cake ‘recipe’ but instead a non-recipe. I discovered it a few years ago when starting to eat healthier and have made them a few times since.

The surprise in this snack cake is that it utilizes that wayward can of pumpkin we all seem to have stashed in the back of our pantry. Simply take a box of your favorite chocolate cake or brownie mix and add to it one 16 ounce can of pumpkin. You will not need to add any eggs, oil or anything else. Bake in a pan or in muffin cups as normal.

Pumpkin Brownie Collage

The result is a moist, slightly dense cake that I find mildly addictive. It’s more healthy than a traditionally prepared cake mix in that the pumpkin adds fiber and reduces the level of fat. The flavor is ‘ok’ and I’m not gonna lie to you, you can taste a hint of pumpkin in the background. If you didn’t know it contained pumpkin, you might not jump to that conclusion … you’d just know that something was different than normal.

Since this snack cake is about being healthy, frosting is not allowed. But, I do think a rich cream cheese frosting would knock this one out of the park. You wouldn’t even think twice about it containing pumpkin. You could add ground worms to it and you’d still be happy. Cream cheese frosting does make everything better.

I opted to sprinkle mine with toasted sesame seeds which add a nutty flavor without many calories.

Sesame Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies

All this talk of cake, now has me hungry. I haven’t made this cake in so long and find myself without a can of pumpkin or a prepared cake mix. Drat. I’ll have to suffice with eating toasted sesame seeds on my morning bowl of cereal instead. It’s just not the same.

If you’re looking for more canned pumpkin recipes, try these: Pumpkin Nut Bars Using a Cake Mix


Now that I’ve come forward with my confession, it’s time for you to do the same. Occasionally, I receive emails from readers whom admittedly never comment on my blog, but enjoy reading along. I appreciate everyone’s readership but must admit, I am curious and want to know more about my readers.

How many readers are hidden to me? Well, based on my subscription statistics … there a good thousand people out there whom I don’t know very well. Please don’t feel the need to comment on every post – reading from the sidelines is definetly ok. I do it too.

But, maybe – just this once, you could leave a brief comment telling me a little about yourself, what part of the world you live in, have you been reading my blog long, what sorts of foods do you like to make (or not make). If there’s something you’d like to see me make, I’d love to know that as well.

Anyone can leave a comment, whether or not you are a blogger yourself. You can even make up a fun and creative name if you’d like! And rest assured, your email address will not display publicly so your privacy is maintained.

So, with all that said … the confessional is now open …

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  1. I can’t wait to see your search results after you used the words tranny, chocolate, snack, and cake on your blog ;) There are going to be some very disappointed googlers out there.

  2. Still laughing at Erin’s comment! I’ve used canned pumpkin in chocolate cupcakes before and I love it. My recipe, however, isn’t very healthy. And yes, I put cream cheese frosting on them and it’s a great combination! I do like the idea of sprinkling these with toasted sesame seeds, I’ll be stealing that! Actually, now I feel like baking something just so I can sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on top.

  3. F*#ing show-off! :P Yeesh, my confession will be open to all– so much for the seal! Well Allen, you already know more about me than you ever wanted. I’ve been following you since February 2008. I certainly don’t feel the *need* to comment on every single one of your posts but I like you so I just enjoy tormenting you here. Like by writing the impending novella in the rest of this space. Wait, you’re still trying to eat healthier right?
    Anyway. I wonder if we could adapt this in some other ways: mix with peanut butter for a thick, tempting treat. Or prune puree and almonds for a fruit-and-nut chocolate bar. As I’ve said before Filipinos aren’t accustomed to squash in desserts (with one exception), so I’m not sure if that makes me less or more likely to detect it!

  4. I like pumpkin so I don’t mind a subtle pumpkin taste. I always feel a little weird about my Sandra Lee-ish recipes too. After tweeting my faux beignets yesterday, I got a lot of response asking for the recipe. I think as long as we make clear that we consider them non-recipes, it might be OK. I dunno though. My non-recipe for tiramisu had my friend turning up her nose. And yet, it’s quite popular for people who don’t want the fuss. So if I don’t have eggs on hand, or am just too lazy to add eggs and oil to cake mix, I could easily make these brownies. ;)

  5. I love the tranny cake. ;)

    All of your baking makes me hungry! Can’t have any gluten, though, so the baking side of my kitchen persona has been sadly truncated… GF baking is so time consuming that I just haven’t had time to make anything.

    BTW, I’m going to put you on my blogroll. Should I start an IFBC section?

  6. Let’s not forget search terms ‘moist’ and uh, ‘can’.
    Don’t worry, you’re nothing like Sandra Lee. I’m sure she would have figured out a way to work in an unnecessary container of canned frosting if this were her recipe.

  7. Hahaha – I think being #1 on the search for “chocolate tranny cake” is something to be proud of :) And yes, I’m one of those dreaded lurkers… I have no idea how long I’ve been reading your blog, but I’m reading it from Oshkosh, WI and have a slight baking addiction. Dinner is overrated if a dessert has been made!

  8. I haven’t been able to stop laughing! “Tranny” cake definitely takes the cake! Very clever Allen…now where is that cream cheese?

  9. I’m a lurker! …well, on-and-off-again-lurker. I like pumpkin so there is no shame in posting this tranny-licious chocolate cake recipe. My tranny recipe involves a package of soft dessert tofu and chocolate cake mix. Sometimes it is flavoured dessert tofu, sometimes it is plain. It’s a nice guessing game when I ask my friends to “name that hidden ingredient”. Was it mango dessert tofu or banana?

    P.S. I also have food-related alzheimers. I’ll eat at home / a restaurant / event and have no recollection of doing so until I’m clearing out my memory card and notice that there’s photos from who knows where. :)

  10. I love your cake recipe, Jessica — tofu and cake mix, brilliant!

    I’ve mixed a package of silken tofu with a box of jello to make a chilled, fruit pie before.

  11. I confess to being a lurker. ~30, female, New York (soon to be San Francisco).

    I enjoy your recipes immensely. And I cannot WAIT to try this one out (as I am allergic to egg yolks and find that the egg white version of cakes/brownies just isn’t the same). I wonder if a bit of nutmeg and cinnamon would make this out of this world?

  12. I will confess that I love chocolate cake and pumpkin, so this sounds like a perfect match. I live in Washington D.C. and dream of baking to while away the time during the day.

  13. I read a lot of blogs and never comment on any of them. A lot of the ones I subscribe to have been asking for comments lately, essentially threatening to stop blogging unless they get some comments and glorious praise for their efforts. I’m not trying to accuse you of this (I really like your blog though), but I find it tiresome. Shouldn’t you (general you) be blogging because you like it and it makes you happy? If you don’t like it, comments or not, why bother? Seems silly to me. If you’re providing a nice blog for others to enjoy, fine, do it for the enjoyment it gives you, but don’t try and make me feel guilty for never stroking your ego. I guess I needed to get that out of my system.
    Thanks for the blog.

  14. you know who i am……but you’re way better than Sandra Lee – you’re in a totally different and better league than her! i’m sorry if you like her – i just get sick at the sight of all the matchy-matchy stuff on her set – maybe it’s not her fault, but she’s a little bit too much for me!

  15. I was initially drawn to your blog name “Eating Out Loud”. It so perfectly describes a food blog. I live in Calgary and write the food blog for the public library’s website. You can link to my blog by clicking Food on the library’s homepage. I am food obsessed but if I had to narrow that down a bit, I would say I am seriously cookie obsessed. I make and bake everything I eat from scratch, realy homestyle, casual stuff, nothing chef-y or trendy. Though it IS trendy, apparently, to bring homecooking back into the home! I have been to Turkey, LOVED the food, and really love your Turkish-themed posts. Am currently playing around with sweet yeasty breads, as you seem to be, trying to find the quintessential dough for an Eastern European walnut strudel. Will post mine when I find it! Many thanks for your wonderful blog. I very much enjoy your writing, your recipes, your explorations for great food.

  16. Brooke: YES, I think a little cinnamon might work out wonderful in this!

    Leah: DC is on my list of places to visit, but still haven’t made it there yet. I daydream all the time about baking and still don’t feel like I do it often enough.

    Regina: My apologies if seeming to pander for comments. I’ve been curious lately about *who* reads my blog, whether a regular commenter or not, to understand where they are located and what types of food interests they have. I’ve noticed a growing contingent in Australia as of late, and find things like this interesting … especially when we are in different seasons (me cooking summer dishes while they are craving Winter stews).

    Queenie: Ha! I know you all too well (give my regards to L and J). I could never be as matchy-matchy as Sandra Lee :-)

    Cookie Maker: Aha! I noticed a few hits from the Calgary library every now and again and wondered why this was. I used to work in academic libraries and have an MLIS degree, so have a fond connection to libraries :-) For the rest of you, here is a link to the CPL Food Blog that Cookie Maker mentions.

  17. I, too, am a lurker. I’ve been following your blog for over a year now. Originally became interested while living on the island of Roatan, Honduras. Now I’m happily living in Boynton Beach, FL. I really enjoy all of your posts, which often make me laugh. I am a vegan and would love to see some vegan and vegetarian food creations.

  18. I’ve been confusing Sandra Lee with Sarah Lee all this time…

    If I ever throw a trailer trash themed party in my backyard, you’ll have to bring this cake.

  19. Open sesame to my mouth!! This idea of sprinkling sesame seeds is excellent without calories, nutty chocolaty, anything more??

    I want to see the lurkers of your blog… I’ve mine too and sometimes I’m lurker too hehe :)

    Enjoyed this first awesome pic on foodgawker Allen too.
    Now sending to twitter :)



  20. I confess too, yeah yeah that I am a lurker. I came across your blog when I searched the blog-world for “Mochi”. A colloegue of mine @ work is chinese and makes excellent mochi, she makes it the traditional way and also has tweaked the fillings, she made a strawberry white chocolate mochi which is to die for! After reading your post, I have been wanting to make some coz you make it look so easy but I never have. But what I have tried is your recipe of Banana bread (yeah you got it from cooking light) whatever, you are my source. I have make it twice now with excellent results. My husband snacks on it ans my 2 yr old “vove’s” it ! Thanks for the wonderful blog, great work!

  21. I happen to have a can of pumpkin in my pantry right now… my son actually pulled it out the other day when I suggested he figure out something for dinner (just to see what he’d come up with)… I had to explain that eating a can of pumpkin probably wasn’t a great idea. I think the snack cake would be a hit with him!

  22. I’m a new reader…I was just too curious about what a “tranny” brownie would be! The pumpkin definitely seems like a cool idea, do they actually taste like pumpkin? Chocolate and pumpkin…mmm…could be interesting

  23. I have no idea how long I’ve been reading your blog, but I like it! I live in South Florida. Speaking of tofu combinations that don’t taste like tofu, I made “Chocolate Coma” once, and my kids didn’t even know it had tofu. It’s basically equal amounts of silken tofu and melted chocolate chips. We made s’more-like concoctions with the Chocolate Coma, marshmallow fluff, and graham crackers. Surprisingly good!

  24. I’ll make my admission to lurking about the food blog world too. I follow publicly, but almost never post, which I equivocate with lurking. This is a fantastic idea, I’m going to have to try it. I’m betting my husband won’t know the difference, and he’ll be happy to find out it’s a healthier cake! We try to be workoutaholics and healthy eatiers, but guess who brought home red velvet last weekend (not me). Have you tried it with other cake flavors? I wonder how the pumpkin would come through in vanillas or a carrot cake.

  25. Pumpkin, chocolate and sesame seeds all sound good to me! I’m a fairly new reader from Massachusetts. I read every post and comment when my mind isn’t numbed from designing all day… ;)

  26. I do the same with boxed brownie mix and 1 can of black beans (drained) pureed with one can of water. very fudgy!

  27. Hi there! Since you requested secret readers to comment, I thought I would just leave a note on this. I typically don’t comment (on any blogs) but I do really like your philsophy in the kitchen. I like to think that it’s similar to my own. Anyway, I follow along casually and I get great ideas from you. Thanks for doing what you do!

  28. I discovered your blog recently (when your Mom got sick, glad she’s better), and like it very much. I lived in Michigan for a while when I was little and your picture of your Michigan farm home made me nostalgic; I could just smell the summer air. Now I live in Salem, Oregon and just started collecting Social Security! I may send you some nostalgic recipe cards someday.

  29. Where’s the tablescape to go with this arucepie? Seems to me you missed the cocktail portion of the presentation, too. Just don’t go all making Kwanzaa cakes with Tootsie Roll turds on them, okay? (And I live just north of Lynn D. in Oregon City)

  30. I’m glad I’m not the only one who forgets about food photos I’ve taken months ago. Naw, it’s not early Alzheimer’s, it’s just an overload of photos because we bloggers keep snapping more and more of them each day. Glad you found these. I love the pumpkin addition. And the sesame seeds lend a little touch of elegance.

  31. Hey there! Just subscribed today- I found you looking for a clafouti recipe (made it for dessert tonight, yum! Have you tried Miracle Cobbler? Very similar, but no eggs.)

    You know, these remind me of the brownies I made with a can of pureed black beans and a brownie mix…*shudder* :) I’m sure these are much better!

  32. Hi, I’m Jules from Singapore. Food is a very big part of my country’s culture, and having been brought up here, I am pretty much enamoured by food, receipes, reviews, food fads, chefs, TV shows about food, etc etc. Cannot remember when I stumbled across your blog…maybe 2 yrs ago? But can’t say I regret it, though like many others, I’d probably be lurking in the shadows and not have written a comment, until I saw your ‘confession’. This is one of my favourite food blogs, with a very sincere and passionate voice behind your words. Thank you for sharing with us, and please do continue to do so. I look forward to your next blog. Be well :)

  33. Sometimes I cook and photograph things but then decide I’m just not quite happy with how they turn out. They sit on my desktop until Brent randomly decided to use my laptop, and says “why haven’t you posted this? It’s great.”

  34. I just started reading your blog a few weeks ago…I really enjoy it immensely!

    My confession? I have been meaning to start my own food blog……for about 6 months! I do post stuff on myspace, but I am ready to move on from that…i think.

  35. i’ve been an occasional reader of your blog for a few months and love the redesign! i haven’t commented before but chocolate snack cake is one of my ultimate comfort foods so i’m excited to try this. :) i’m a law student in boston, slowly trying to learn how to cook after realizing that i wanted to eat more interesting, healthy food than the processed ‘american’ food i grew up with. 101cookbooks is one of my staples for recipes, but sometimes gets a little too granola-y for me…your blog is a great balance of interesting, whole foods based recipes alongside fare that is a little more approachable for the days i just want to be comfy. keep up the awesome work!

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