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Best Ever Pumpkin Cake With Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting

Published:  • 
Last Modified: October 18, 2020
Published: October 18, 2020

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pumpkin cake

Orange You Excited It's October And Pumpkin Cake Time

It's pumpkin cake time! And I'm excited! I have a ridiculous fondness for pumpkins in every shape, size, and color. To be honest, it borders on is an obsession. (What's more, I find puns irresistible!)

I love baby boo pumpkins, warty pumpkins, flat pumpkins, white pumpkins, gray pumpkins, red pumpkins. No matter if they are short and squatty or tall and lean, I'm a fan. To me, every pumpkin is a thing of beauty! Oh boy, I just reminded myself of Dr. Suess for a second!!

pumpkins ina wheelbarrow

It's Time For Pumpkin Cake And Pumpkin Flavored Everything

Starbucks leads the charge to Pumpkin flavored everything beginning in late August. And by October, good gourd, the whole nation is swept into a frenzy of pumpkin fever! Why not? Pumpkin anything is pretty amazing!

I love decorating with pumpkins and love eating pumpkin every bit as much. Every fall, I can't wait to try out new pumpkin recipes.

You've got admit a dense moist cake with pumpkin, caramel, AND cream cheese frosting is already a winner. Spike that cream cheese frosting with bourbon? Now, my friend, we have a triple crown dessert!

pumpkin cake pin

And it's simple to make! This pumpkin cake recipe starts with a cake mix and a can of pumpkin puree. What could be easier? The batter is thick and tantalizingly fragrant!

pumpkin cake batter

If you want to get fancy, bake it as a bundt cake or as a layer cake and adjust the baking times. Me? I wanted simple, (but amazingly tasty). So, I baked it in a standard 9 x 13 pan.

Bake this beauty at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until the edges pull away slightly from the edge of the pan. The cake tester should come out clean even in the tallest part of the cake.

ready to bake

I Just Want To Kiss The First Person That Made A Poke Cake

Now, while it's still hot, grab a wooden spoon with a round handle and poke holes all over the cake about 1 1/2 inches apart. You want big, thirsty craters to soak up the caramel topping you're pouring in. Presto! Now, it's a pumpkin caramel poke cake!

Whoever that person was that bravely poked holes in a hot cake and poured something in it deserves our eternal thanks! This step produces a super moist cake with an added dimension of flavor.

So thank you, mystery baker. We love you. Here are my other personal favorite poke cakes. You oughta try them too Candy Bar Poke Cake, Rhubarb Poke Cake, Coconut Chocolate Almond Poke Cake!

pumpkin cake with craters

How To Make The Decadent Cream Cheese Frosting

I hope you set out the butter and cream cheese to soften. You did, didn't you? The frosting is super simple to make when you start with creamy soft butter and cream cheese.

Beat the cream cheese and butter together with the vanilla and bourbon until it's all nice and fluffy. Next, gradually add the powdered sugar until you get the right spreading consistency.

Powdered sugar can be a bit mysterious so do add it gradually. I found I needed about 3 1/2 cups. If it gets too thick, you can add a little more bourbon or even some milk. On the other hand, if it's too thin, add more powdered sugar until you are happy.

This makes a generous batch for a thick blanket of frosting on the cake and who doesn't think that's a good idea? Be sure and lick the beaters or why else would you be the one washing the dishes, right?

frosted pumpkin cake

I garnished the top with a sprinkle of cinnamom. I could have used nutmeg. My husband isn't nuts about nuts on a cake or in fudge so I left them off. But my daughter and I think that chopped party peanuts would add a salty, crunchy, amazing element.

Yield: 16 servings

Pumpkin Caramel Poke Cake With Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting

pumpkin cake

A dense moist cake that's infused with caramel and topped with a thick layer of decadent bourbon-laced cream cheese frosting.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes



  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1  15-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 to 1.5 cups caramel syrup (ice cream topping)
  • 1/2 cup chopped salted party peanuts for garnish (optional)


  • 1 8-ounce block cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup) softened at room temperature, not melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3-4 Tbsp bourbon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to350 degrees.
  2. Spray or grease the bottom only of a 13" x 9" pan.
  3. Mix all ingredients and beat well. The batter should be thick and smooth.
  4. Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. The cake should pull away slightly from the edges of the pan.
  5. While the cake is still hot, use the round handle of a wooden spoon to poke holes in the cake. Holes can be about 1 1/2" apart.
  6. Pour caramel sauce evenly in the holes.
  7. Let cake cool completely before frosting, about an hour.
  8. Add your desired garnish after the cake is frosted.


  1. Beat cream cheese, butter, bourbon, and vanilla together until light and fluffy.
  2. Add powdered sugar gradually, beating well until the desired spreading consistency is achieved.
  3. If it is too thick, add a bit of milk. If too thin, add a little powdered sugar at a time.
  4. Spread evenly over top of the cake.
  5. If desired, add a garnish of chopped salted peanuts.
  6. Optional: If you don't want to add nuts, a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg makes an attractive garnish.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 679Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 483mgCarbohydrates: 133gFiber: 1gSugar: 117gProtein: 4g

What's your favorite pumpkin recipe? Do have any you'd like to share? If you do, I'd love to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this recipe today, please share it on your social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. I’d sure be tickled and ever so grateful, thank you! 

Love, GB (Betty Streff)

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