a decadent pumpkin praline cake with toasted pecans & spiced bourbon cream cheese frosting
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two, 9” cake pans with butter. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Set aside. In another large bowl, beat the eggs. Gradually add both the brown sugar and granulated sugar, continually whisking until the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Whisk in the oil, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract until fully incorporated. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, whisking until smooth. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the butter, whole milk, and brown sugar over medium heat. Let the butter melt and the mixture come to a boil. Whisk so that you get a smooth, thick mixture. Evenly distribute the praline mixture into the cake pans from above. Do the same for the pecans, making sure the praline mixture is completely covered. Pour the batter into the cake pans, filling each one evenly. Use a rubber spatula to smooth out the batter. Bake for 30 minutes. Lower the heat to 300°F and bake for 10 minutes longer. Insert a toothpick to make sure the cake is done (the toothpick should come out clean). Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes.
Run a butter knife along the edges of each pan to ensure the cakes come out cleanly. Starting with one of the cakes, place a cutting board on top of the pan (make sure the cutting board covers the entire pan with a little wiggle room). Hold the cutting board tightly to the pan and flip the pan over so that the cake comes out onto the cutting board, praline side up. Repeat with all the pans. Let the cakes completely cool on a wire rack.
While the cakes cool, pour the bourbon into a small sauce pan. Bring the liquid to a bubble over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer the bourbon until it reduces and becomes syrupy. You want to reduce the bourbon until you’re left with two tablespoons. Transfer the reduce bourbon to a small bowl and let cool.
Combine the softened cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer. Using a paddle attachment, beat until smooth, scraping down the sides as you go. Add the sifted powdered sugar in 3 batches, gradually mixing it in. Lastly, add the reduced bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt.
Frost each cake individually using a spatula and a generous amount of cream cheese frosting. Carefully place one layer on top of the other. Garnish with extra toasted pecans. Slice the cake very carefully. Serve chilled, room temperature, or heated for 20 seconds in the microwave.