Pumpkin Layer Cake with Fluffy Cream Cheese Filling and Caramel Drizzle

Time: 30 min. prep + 25 min. cooking + cooling
Yield: 12 servings
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

***NOTE: This cake can be made a day in advance, if the caramel topping is added just before serving.***

1 box French Vanilla Cake Mix
1 C pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 C milk
4 eggs
1/3 C canola or vegetable oil
1 t pumpkin pie spice

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 C powdered sugar
1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
1 C pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 (16 ounce) container cool whip

1/4 C caramel ice cream topping
15 toasted pecans

1. Find yourself two round 9 inch cake pans and some parchment paper. Trace the bottom of the pan onto the paper.Fold the paper in half and cut two circles from your traced line.

2. Spray a bit of cooking spray into the bottom of each pan. This Bakers Joy Spray has flour in it, which will make your life wonderful and stick free. Just what you were hoping for, right? You can also find Pam Spray with Flour. Place the parchment paper in the pans and spray it and the sides of the pan generously.

3. Find yourself a French Vanilla Cake Mix. Toss it into your stand mixer or large mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup milk, 4 eggs, 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice...and 1 cup pumpkin. Mix on low for 30 seconds. Scrape the bottom of your mixing bowl with a rubber spatula, then mix on medium speed for 2 minutes or until the batter is nice and glossy. 

4. Pour the batter into your prepared pans and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

5. Let the pans cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then invert the pans and let the cakes cool on the wire rack completely.

6. Take a sharp knife and carefully cut the rounded dome off of each cake. The layers will stack more easily if they are all relatively flat. Once you have taken care of the rounded dome, take your sharp knife and slice each layer in half making 4 equal layers. Now listen, just make them as evenly cut as possible. No need to get out a ruler or anything. Just do the best you can. It helps if you make a little line with your knife all around the cake marking the middle. Then try and follow the line as you cut through the cake.

7. Make the fluffy filling by beating 1 package cream cheese in your stand mixer. Add 1 C powdered sugar, 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice and 1 C pumpkin. Fold in 1 container of cool whip.  

8. Place a little dollop of filling in the center of the cake plate you are planning to use. This will help the cake stay in place.

9. Place one of the cake layers on the plate.

10. Tuck a few sheets of parchment paper under the cake layer. This is optional, but helps a person keep the cake platter nice and tidy. :)
11. Spread 1/4 of the filling over the top of the cake.

12. Place the additional cake layers onto the platter and cover them with filling.

13. Arrange 12-15 pecans on top of the cake. Cover the cake loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
14. When you are ready to serve the cake drizzle 1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping over the top. Now, a word of caution here. You may be tempted to place the caramel on the cake an hour or so before serving (because it looks so lovely and all). However, the caramel has a tendency to run right off the platter which will leave you in a mess. So, take heed. Add the caramel just before you serve. Then cut your beautiful creation and serve.