Butternut Squash Gingersnap Cake with Maple Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Butternut Squash Gingersnap Cake – Layers of moist butternut squash cake, gingersnap cookie and maple cinnamon cream cheese frosting.
Ryan and I both travel quite a bit for work. Sometimes, we’re both on the road or working so much that it’s hard to find time for each other. Every year we try to plan a long weekend together. It’s nothing too big. Just the two of us for three or four days in a city we love. A couple years ago our getaway was in New York. I know I’m in New York a lot for work, and you’re thinking, “why would I go back for fun?”. Well, I simply love the city and never really get to enjoy it when I’m working. Plus, no matter how many times you’ve been to New York, there’s always something new to do or explore, and there’s always new food to try! Plus, my little sister and my best friend live there. Two more reasons I love NYC.
The Best New York Ice Cream
Our weekend in New York was a bit rainy, but with umbrellas and rain jackets in tow, a little moisture didn’t stop us from having a good time and walking all over the city. It also didn’t stop us from getting ice cream at my new favorite shop in the West Village, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream.
You guys! If there’s one place to try next time you’re in NYC, this needs to be it. (Or Doughnut Project around the corner – ahhh, just do both!).
Of course we sampled just about every flavor on the menu, and by far, the vegan butternut squash brown sugar pecan cookie was my favorite. It blew me away! Creamy and flavorful, it consumed my thoughts for the entire weekend and ever since I’ve been home. And per my usual thought process, with each bite of ice cream, I thought about how I could take the flavor combination and turn it into a cake.
Butternut Squash Gingersnap Cake
As soon as I got home, I started working on this ice cream inspired cake. I wanted to use all the flavors from the ice cream in the cake. Here’s what I came up with: butternut squash cake layers, gingersnap cookie layers with candied ginger, candied pecans, and maple cinnamon cream cheese frosting.
I was pretty excited about this cake but nearly had to pick up my jaw off the ground once I sampled it. The flavors in this cake scream fall and will make your taste buds dance with delight.
Look at these layers! So many flavors and textures!
If there’s one cake you make this fall, this needs to be it! I can’t stop eating it.
Butternut Squash Gingersnap Cake
Butternut squash cake layers with gingersnap cookie, candied pecans and maple cream cheese frosting.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 35 mins
FOR THE CAKE
- 3 cups (about 600 g) cooked and mashed butternut squash
- 1 1/4 cups 250 g sugar
- 4 extra large eggs room temperature
- 1 cup (218 g) vegetable oil
- 3 cups plus 3 tablespoons (366.5 g) cake flour
- 1 tablespoon (8g) ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons (8 g) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (6 g) salt
- 1 teaspoon (2.6 g) nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon (1.4 g) ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons (8.4 g) pure vanilla extract
FOR THE COOKIE
- 4 cups (480 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons (8 g) baking soda
- 1 teaspoon (6 g) salt
- 2 teaspoons (5.3 g) ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon (2.6 g) ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon (2.6 g) ground ginger
- 1 1/2 cups 339 g unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup 150 g granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup 165 g brown sugar, packed
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup 150 g molasses
- 2/3 cup 100 g chopped candied ginger
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM
- 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter slightly cold
- 4 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- 7 cups (875 g) powdered sugar measured then sifted
- 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) maple extract
- 1/3 cup (72.6 g) pure maple syrup
- Pinch of salt
- *This buttercream recipe makes enough to fill and cover your cake. If you want to add additional piping you’ll want to make an extra ½ batch.
FOR THE PECANS
- 2 cups (150 g) chopped pecans
- 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
FOR THE CAKE
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch or four 6-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray, line with parchment and spray again. Set aside.
- In a medium bow, combine the cake flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and ground ginger. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and eggs together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add the oil and beat on medium until combined. Add the cooled butternut squash and mix until combined. Add the vanilla.
- With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Mixture will be thin.
- Evenly distribute the batter into the prepared pans (about 20 ounces of batter in each of the three 8-inch round pans or 15 ounces in each of the 6-inch pans). Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out mostly clean.
- Let pans cool on wire racks for 10 minutes before inverting cakes onto racks to cool completely.
FOR THE COOKIE
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray, line the bottom of the pans with parchment and spray again. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between each addition.
- Add the molasses and stir until well combined.
- Stir in the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until incorporated. Batter will be a little sticky.
- Fold in the candied ginger.
- Divide the dough in each of the three 8-inch pans (about 10 ounces of batter in each) and flatten with your hand to create a mostly flat surface.
- Bake the cookie layers for 15-17 minutes. Keep an eye on the cookie layers. You don’t want to over bake the cookie or it will be too hard to cut with the cake.
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM
- In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about two minutes.
- Gradually add in the powdered sugar with the mixer on low speed.
- Add vanilla, maple extract, and maple syrup and beat until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a wooden spoon and mix by hand to stir out the air bubbles.
FOR THE PECANS
- Combine the pecans and sugar over the stove on medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, to coat the pecans with the melted sugar. Let cool completely before using.
- After leveling each cake layer, place the first round of the gingersnap cookie, on a cake board. Spread about ¾ cup of the frosting over the cookie. Top with a handful of candied pecans, followed by a cake layer, top side up. Apply another ¾ cup frosting on top of the cake
- Repeat these steps until you get to the final cake layer.
- Place the final cake layer, top side down, on top of the last layer of frosting. Apply a thin coat of frosting around the entire cake to lock in the crumbs. Freeze the cake for 10 mins.
- After the crumb coat is set, apply the final coat of frosting with the remaining buttercream.
- I had enough for another thin layer of frosting. If you want a fully-coated look, make an extra ¼ of the frosting recipe.
Hi! I really enjoy your blog and IG but this is the first time I’m going to actually try making one of your cakes. I’m excited!
Here’s my question. Will this cake be any less delicious if I leave out the ginger snap cookie layer? First, I’m not a fan of ginger snaps and second, I’d just like a soft cake without the harder cookie layer in it.
Thanks so much!!
You can certainly enjoy this cake without the gingersnap layer. The frosting and cake work great together on their own.
How much cinnamon do you put in the frosting? It isn’t listed.
Oh I’m sorry, I actually removed the cinnamon after testing this recipe again. I’ve revised the text.
Yay! Can’t wait to try another one of your cakes!! This one will be first up for me because it sounds so intriguing. Q re assembly… the instructions say to start with a cake later on bottom and end with a cake later on top, but the pictures show to start with a cookie layer…? I’m thinking you really have to start with the cookie layer to end with a cake later, right?
Can. Not. Wait.
I made this recipe for my husband’s birthday over the weekend. When I told the kids it was going to be squash cake, I got some dubious responses, but the end result was fantastic! Universal thumbs up from everyone. The combination of the intense cookie, mild cake, crunchy nuts, and frosting all together was excellent.
Yay! Love hearing that!
I was sooo excited try this cake!! I gave it a shot a few weeks ago, and the cake came out kind of flat, dense, and gummy, and the cookie was really thick. I got no complaints on the flavor and everyone who tried it was still completely obsessed, but I’m just wondering what might have gone wrong to make the cake layers turn out so strange?
Hey Taylor, I’m sorry to hear the cake didn’t turn out right. It definitely sounds like something went wrong because that’s not the texture of the cake at all. In fact, it’s light and fluffy – not dense and gummy at all. My concern is that your oven temperature may be off internally from what it’s telling you on the screen on the outside of the oven. The cookie is a bit thick, but if you look at my pictures, it’s not as thick as the cake itself. Should be about half the height.
Made this cake for the second time (I can’t remember how the batter was the first time) but this time my batter was very thick (like a banana bread). I weighed out my mashed squash and use the spoon/sweep method for my flour. The recipe says the batter is supposed to be “thin” is that correct? I still got 20oz of batter in each pan.
Thanks for sharing this! It is very good. I’ve made this twice now and it has received a lot of compliments (tested on age ranges 4yrs-78yrs). I have used a Swiss meringue buttercream with maple and cream cheese, which was much less sweet than the American buttercream. Your gingerbread recipe, by the way, is fantastic. Thanks again!
Sounds delicious! Thank you!
So excited to try the finished product! Question though, my layers baked up pretty thin…is that how they are supposed to be?
They should be about an inch to 1.25″
Hi! So excited to make this cake for our wedding! (We’ll do a cake trail run!)
Just a question – it looks like your bottom layer is a layer of gingersnap cookie, although it says the first layer is a cake. Can you please clarify? Thank you!
Yes let me fix that. You want cookie round first, then frosting and then cake layer.
This cake doesn’t really actually rise properly, even trying a second time and making sure I followed instructions exactly. What could it be?
Did you overmix when the dry ingredients were added?
Making this for Thanksgiving! How long do you allow your cookie layers to cool in Pan before inverting to wire rack?
About 10-15 minutes.
Do you roast or boil your butternut squash before you mash? The cake is delicious, but my layers were very flat. Wondering if the way squash is cooked affects cake?
So excited to make this cake, but I have to clarify. How do you cook your butternut squash? Cut up and roasted? Boiled? I imagine it makes a big difference to the moisture level and end result.
1. Is it important that the eggs are extra large? Could I use 6 large eggs instead?
2. How do you cook the squash? Roast in oven with no oil, steam, something else?
3. Would pumpkin purée work equally well since butternut squash purée is very similar to canned pumpkin?
Excited to make this! Thanks!
I roast my squash! Eggs can be large. And I bet pumpkin would work.
Thanks for the quick response!
I made it this weekend and wanted to share my experience:
1. The frosting ingredients list is missing vanilla, or there is a mistake in the frosting instructions #3 where it says add vanilla. I don’t have maple extract, so I just used that measurement for vanilla extract and omitted the maple extract.
2. I attempted the cake twice, first with mashed butternut squash, but that came out way too dense, then with store bought pumpkin puree which came out dense but not as solid as the first. Both times the batter was quite thick (e.g. it required spreading, didn’t settle itself), but especially the first time. Based on both attempts, having both times been careful to not overmix and using an oven thermometer to correctly gauge the temperature, I’m pretty confident that either/or:
– Your butternut squash mash is more of a loose puree than a mash. I think of mash as something pretty solid that can hold its shape, but perhaps that’s not what you were intending.
– Your extra large eggs are extremely large, thus contributing enough liquid to make the batter thin. After a bit of Googling, I used 5 large eggs instead of 4 extra large but maybe I should have used 6.
– The recipe is missing liquid, perhaps a 1/2 of milk or something.
It would be great to have precise instructions for exactly how you prepare your squash, including amount of raw squash (by weight), bake time, oven temp, if there’s any oil or seasoning, and finally if you mash using a food processor or blender or just hand masher. E.g. Melissa Clark’s NYT pumpkin pie recipe roasts butternut squash in heavy cream and sugar before pureeing in a food processor. It wasn’t overly precise I had great success with it.
Because butternut squash puree isn’t commonly sold (at least where I am, in a large US city), it’s really hard to know if I have the right water content or if too much was lost during baking.
Or if not, perhaps an optional liquid troubleshooting step, like if the puree or even the batter is too thick, try adding ?
3. It would be extremely helpful if there was a visual cue for the texture of the cookie, in addition to time. I’m a decently experienced baker but I never bake cookies in cake tins, so I wasn’t sure what to do to test proper doneness. I went with “edges slightly brown, dry but still puffy, almost souffled center if you poke”. It sank quite a bit, so perhaps I was too cautious and underbaked it, but I was actually okay with that because it made a nice little divot to fill with frosting. More visual cues in general for any elements that aren’t super basic (e.g. cake, toothpick with a few crumbs is super basic) are always nice.
4. The recipe instructions say make an extra 1/4 batch to decorate the cake, but the instructions say make an extra 1/2 batch. With the standard batch, I had enough to crumb coat and barely add a haphazard, rustic second layer on the side. That might be due to my cookie divot filling situation though. In other recipes I’ve tried, I’ve often had at least 1-2 cups of leftover frosting, so this was a rare exception.
I love the idea of this cake and the chewy cookie part is my fav. 🙂 Hopefully next time I can nail it!
I’ve made this cake 2xs. Once with the gingersnap cookie, once without. I’m about to make it a 3rd time without the cookie layer. My observations:
As many other comments say the layers don’t rise much. This is normal. However I’m not sure if boiling the squash or roasting is preferred. Courtney doesn’t say. One of the comments says she does roast it it but how does she roast it? And for how long? And doesn’t it get crisp? Does she drizzle with oil? I’ve boiled mine thus far but maybe I should be roasting it. The cake it’s self is yummy.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the gingersnap cookie but maybe that’s just me. I might have over baked it. Don’t do that. It gets hard.
The maple frosting was too much for me. The maple flavoring is very strong. Again, maybe that’s just me. The 2nd time I made it I only used the maple BC as a filling between layers. It’s a better balance for me. I covered it in an easy BC which is more like an IMBC. That was so good.
The candied pecans were easy enough to make except, do you melt the sugar first then add the pecans? I’ve done both. The first time I had hard sugar clumps in with my pecans when I added them both together.
A few more details about the recipe under tips would be helpful.
But I love all Courtney’s recipes and have made a lot of them.
Now to decide if I redo the squash and try the roasted method 🤔.