This is a perfect combination of flavor and texture.
The pumpkin layer is creamy, and the nuts combined with the spice cake add flavor and crunch. The unexpected surprise is that the nuts get toasted during baking, adding another layer of flavor. Then there's the cream-cheese frosting for a touch of sweetness.
This cake is the whole package and absolutely perfect for fall. (It could also be a strong possibility for Thanksgiving, but you might want to do a practice run well before then.) You will think you're using too much cake mix when sprinkling it over the pumpkin mixture, but use it all and make it as even as possible.
This recipe is pretty straightforward, and the only advice I have for making it is to evenly pour the melted butter over the nuts and cake mix. Lining the pan with wax paper is imperative. If you don't line the pan with the waxed paper, letting some hang over the side, you won't get it out in one piece. I loosened it around the edges, placed a platter on top of the cooled pan and flipped it. It came out in one piece with the pumpkin layer on top. Cool it completely on the counter in the pan.
I think it could easily serve up to 20 if cut into about 2-1/2- to 3-inch squares.
For the cake:
1 (29-ounce) can pumpkin
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 box Duncan Hines spice-cake mix
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans
2 sticks butter or margarine, melted
For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounces Cool Whip
Mix the first six cake ingredients until blended. Pour into a 9- by 13-inch pan lined with wax paper. Sprinkle the spice-cake mix over the pumpkin mixture, then sprinkle chopped pecans over cake mix, pushing pecan pieces lightly into the cake mix. Pour melted butter or margarine over all.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Let cool, loosen edges of wax paper and turn out onto a tray to cool.
Mix cream cheese and confectioners' sugar. Add vanilla and mix thoroughly. Fold in Cool Whip. Frost the cooled cake and refrigerate.
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