Fall just became unforgettable with this decadent Chocolate Pumpkin Cake.

This Chocolate Pumpkin Cake, aka Chocolate Harvest Cake, is layered with moist chocolate cake, pumpkin cream cheese filling, and a chocolate ganache. The best news is that it’s so straightforward you can make it on repeat all through the fall season.

This Chocolate Harvest Cake is in my Top 5 of chocolate cakes. I have a Top 10 list, but this is in my Top 5. It is easy to prepare – just 10 minutes to make the batter!

The pumpkin cream cheese filling and glaze are just as easy. It is a great dessert to serve any time of the year, but of course, fall was made so that we could serve this chocolaty pumpkin dream.

Recipe Inspiration

Years ago, I got this recipe from a friend who tore it out of a magazine while sitting at the doctor’s office, and since then, I have made this cake every year.

I still love looking at the copy she gave me; it has oil and chocolate stains. And even though the recipe will be here now, I can’t throw that piece of paper away; it brings back too many fond memories.

close-up of a slice cake with a fork.

Chocolate Cake Ingredients

  • Buttermilk 
  • Water
  • Vegetable oil
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • All-purpose flour
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Filling Ingredients

  • Cream cheese
  • Canned pumpkin
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon
The two cakes stacked with the pumpkin cream cheese layer in the center.

How to Make Chocolate Ganache

The finishing touch for this beautiful chocolate pumpkin cake is the rich and decadent chocolate ganache topping.

  • Whipping cream
  • Semisweet chocolate chips

Bring the cream to a boil in a saucepan. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate chips. Do not mix or stir them in, let the chocolate sit for five minutes. 

After five minutes, stir the mixture until smooth. Let it cool for about 15 minutes, and then pour the ganache over the cake so it slowly drips down the sides. Chill the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes or until the ganache is set.

close-up photo of the cake with the ganache dripping down the sides.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake Recipe Tips

  • Don’t have any buttermilk on hand? You can DIY with milk and lemon juice. Mix one cup of milk with one tablespoon of lemon juice and let it sit for five minutes before adding it to the batter.
  • Feel free to prepare and cool the cakes a day in advance. Wrap them tightly with plastic wrap once they are completely cooled. Prepare the filling and ganache the next day and assemble the cake for serving.
  • In a hurry? Use your favorite chocolate cake mix and skip making it from scratch. Most standard cake mixes will make two 9″ cakes. Make the filling and ganache from scratch.
close up of a slice of harvest cake.

Enjoy this chocolate pumpkin cake; I promise you won’t be disappointed. It’s not fall until I’ve made a chocolate harvest cake at our house – it’s a beautiful way to welcome the new season.

a fork on a plate with a bite of cake with the rest of the slice behind it.

Pin this to your favorite Pinterest board to save it for later!

Chocolate Harvest Cake

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 12
Calories: 489 kcal
This Chocolate Harvest Cake is layered with moist chocolate cake, a creamy pumpkin cream cheese filling, and topped with a dark chocolate ganache. Fall just became unforgettable.
a slice of harvest cake.


Chocolate Cake

  • 1 cup buttermilk or 1 cup milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice, stir and let it sit for 5 minutes
  • 1 cup water
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Pumpkin Cream Filling

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Chocolate Glaze

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips


  • Pre-heat oven to 350º F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans or a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and lightly dust with some flour, then set aside.
  • In mixing bowl, add buttermilk, water, oil, sugar, eggs, baking soda, and salt; stir together until it is well combined. Add in flour and cocoa powder and whisk until smooth and there are no lumps.
  • Pour batter evenly into prepared pan(s).
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes, until you can lightly touch the center and it springs back. Cool pans on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes, then remove cake and allow to completely cool on the wire rack. Once cooled prepare filling.
  • In a mixing bowl beat together cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, and cinnamon until well combined and thick.
  • Place one cake layer on a serving plate, I like to use a cake stand. Evenly spread the filling on top of the bottom layer, then add the second cake on top. Make the Chocolate Glaze.
  • In a small sauce pan add the whipping cream and bring to a boil, remove from heat and add in chocolate chips. Do not mix or stir them in, let the chocolate sit for 5 minutes. 
  • After 5 minutes, stir until smooth. Let it cool for about 15 minutes, then pour over cake, allowing it to slowly drip down the sides. Set the cake in the fridge and let it chill for 30 minutes, until cake is set.
  • Serve once the glaze is set and enjoy!


Recipe from Better Home and Garden Magazine, November 2006
Calories: 489kcalCarbohydrates: 64gProtein: 7gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 53mgSodium: 316mgPotassium: 263mgFiber: 3gSugar: 43gVitamin A: 1385IUVitamin C: 0.2mgCalcium: 79mgIron: 2.6mg
a slice of harvest cake.
Tried this recipe?Let us know what you think!

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  1. I tore this same exact recipe out too!! I make it all the time as well. Sometimes, I just use the chocolate cake recipe and add something different to it. It’s amazing isn’t it? SO YUMMY!!!

  2. This cake looks amazingly delicious! I love that pumpkin filling! I’d be thrilled if you shared this at my Creative Ways Link Party that’s live right now. Hope to see you there!

  3. I almost came through the screen to get a slice of this cake, it looks fabulous! Thanks so much for sharing your awesome post with Full Plate Thursday. Have a great week and come back soon!
    Miz Helen

  4. I saw your link at a link party and had to click on over to find out how you made this cake harvest themed. Love the idea of a pumpkin cream cheese frosting! Your photos are really stunning and make me want to grab a great big slice right now.

      1. If you choose a 9×13 pan, do you have to slice the cake in half to get the filling in the middle?

        If you choose the round pans, how many does this serve?

        1. Ellen – if I were do to this in a 9×13 pan, I would just layer it, by the cake, then the filling, then the glaze. I would make sure that the first two layers were chilled for a bit together and make sure the glaze is room temp. You won’t want to melt the cream cheese layer. Let me know what you decide and how it turns out. San

  5. As always this cake looks absolutely delicious. I would love to have this on our Thanksgiving dessert table. Or better yet, how impressive would this be to take to a party! Love it!

    1. Hi Winni! Yes, you can use sunflower oil as a substitute for vegetable oil. If you use olive oil, make sure it’s a “light tasting” olive oil.

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