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Pumpkin Pecan Cake

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Delicious Pumpkin Crunch Recipe with a Secret Ingredient

Nowadays it seems like everyone is either Team “I LOVE PUMPKIN!” or Team “You’re So #Basic For Loving Anything Pumpkin.” And now that it’s November, a bunch of people are saying, “Goodbye pumpkin, hello peppermint!” because Christmas is coming up.

But what about Thanksgiving? I don’t know about you, but I still love to have a classic pumpkin pie while we celebrate what we’re thankful for. Sometimes classics can be boring, so if you’re looking to serve up something with a twist, that’s still easy to make, I got just the thing for you: a delicious Pumpkin Crunch recipe!

What is Pumpkin Crunch?

Pumpkin crunch is a scrumptious blend of a pumpkin pie and crunchy cake. You might be thinking that a crunchy cake sounds weird, but it’s not. Yellow cake mix is combined with nuts – and creates a layer that’s better than the crust of a pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Crunch Recipe

It’s an easy recipe to make and the main ingredients are all easy to find – pumpkin, evaporated milk, yellow cake mix, sugar, cinnamon, eggs, nuts, and butter.

After everything is mixed and baked, the pumpkin crunch recipe calls for sweetened or whipped cream to finish it off. If that doesn’t sound delicious enough, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret ingredient that’ll kick it up a notch – just keep reading!

Where did the Pumpkin Crunch recipe come from?

No one really knows where it really originated, but it seems that the renowned Hawaiian chef, Sam Choy’s pumpkin crunch recipe is what made this fall dessert so popular. For a place that doesn’t get an actual fall season, it’s a go-to staple on the islands during this time of the year.

If you’re at a fall Hawaiian gathering, you’ll probably see pumpkin crunch cut up into individual squares and put into cupcake liners. So people sometimes also call them pumpkin crunch bars.

Kirkland Praline Pecans

Since many pumpkin crunch recipes you see online call for pecans to be used, you can even call it a pumpkin pecan cake if you want. But here’s the secret ingredient I promised: instead of regular pecans, use praline pecans.

That extra buttery, brown sugar goodness makes the crunchy cake layer of pumpkin crunch even more drool-worthy! Kirkland praline pecans from Costco come in a big jar that are perfect for snacking on and using in this recipe.

And because I love y’all so much, here’s another secret to level up your pumpkin crunch recipe: nutmeg! The whipped cream topping is usually plain but sprinkle cinnamon AND nutmeg on top to give it one last kick.

Can I substitute any of the Pumpkin Crunch ingredients?

Totally! There are a few substitutes you can make to the pumpkin crunch recipe. 

Swap pecans for your favorite nut.
Some popular swaps are walnuts and mixed nuts, or to give it a tropical vibe, use macadamia nuts.

Use spice cake mix instead of yellow cake.
If you want more of that spice flavor, use spice cake mix instead of regular yellow cake, but when you’re using the Kirkland praline pecans you won’t need it!

Use graham crackers instead of nuts.
If you’re allergic to nuts, there’s definitely still a way to make this. You can use graham crackers or even Biscoff cookies as a substitute to still get that crunch.

Pumpkin Crunch Bars

Equipment for Pumpkin Crunch Bars

To make pumpkin crunch bars, here’s all the kitchen stuff you’ll need:

  • Large bowl
  • Whisk to mix all ingredients
  • Parchment paper to line the pan
  • Cupcake liners if you’re going to cut them up and serve individually
  • 9×13 baking pan (side note: from the pics you can see we tried to experiment making it in a round 9-inch pan, but would not recommend – the middle didn’t fully cook!)

You’ll definitely wanna make this pumpkin crunch recipe aka pumpkin crunch bars aka pumpkin pecan cake if you want your contribution to this year’s Thanksgiving meal to be the highlight of the party!

And if you want more holiday recipes, check my post on Oreo Cheesecake Bites.

Pumpkin Crunch Recipe

Pumpkin Pecan Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 13 oz. can pumpkin
  • 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup nuts of your choice, chopped
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • Whipped cream (or sweetened cream cheese)
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Mix the pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, eggs, and cinnamon, and pour into a greased, parchment lined 9×13 pan.
  2. Spread half of the cake mix (dry) in an even layer over batter, sprinkle with nuts, and add remaining cake mix.
  3. Pour melted butter over the top.
  4. Bake for 50 minutes in 350° F.
  5. When cooled, loosen pumpkin crunch from the side of pan with a knife. Invert the pan onto the platter (the top becomes the crust).
  6. Top with whipped cream or sweetened cream cheese.
  7. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.
  8. Cut into squares and serve.

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Pumpkin Crunch Bars

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