Kid-friendly Buttery Pumpkin Thanksgiving Spoon Cake + Spiced Whipped Cream + Pumpkin Spice Hot Cocoa Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Family Meal Plan: Buttery Pumpkin Thanksgiving Spoon Cake + Spiced Pumpkin Whipped Cream + Pumpkin Spice Hot Cocoa

Family Meal Plan: Buttery Pumpkin Thanksgiving Spoon Cake + Spiced Whipped Cream + Pumpkin Spice Hot Cocoa

Buttery Pumpkin Thanksgiving Spoon Cake + Spiced Pumpkin Whipped Cream + Pumpkin Spice Hot Cocoa

by Dylan Sabuco
Photo by Dylan Sabuco
prep time
20 minutes
cook time
23 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Buttery Pumpkin Thanksgiving Spoon Cake

With this recipe, we invite you to travel back to the 1930s when a kitchen blunder resulted in a tasty treat that became known as "Gooey Butter Cake." 

And guess what? We're giving it a festive twist just in time for the cozy season. Grab your aprons and spark that culinary curiosity because we're about to create a dessert that's rich in flavor and history! Get ready to play with your food in the best way!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Shopping List

  • 1 stick butter **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 2 eggs **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 3/4 C heavy cream **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 3 C milk **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 3/4 C flour **(see allergy subs below)**
  • 1 1/4 C powdered sugar
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin purée—not pie filling
  • 4 T cocoa powder (sweetened), dark or milk chocolate **(see allergy subs below)**
  • Paper cupcake liners

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • crack :

    to break open or apart a food to get what's inside, like an egg or a coconut.

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • pour :

    to cause liquid, granules, or powder to stream from one container into another.

  • simmer :

    to cook a food gently, usually in a liquid, until softened.

  • whisk :

    to beat or stir ingredients vigorously with a fork or whisk to mix, blend, or incorporate air.

Equipment Checklist

  • Oven
  • Muffin pan
  • Paper cupcake liners
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Can opener
  • Whisk
  • Plastic jar or other container + tight-fitting lid
  • Pitcher
  • Small to medium saucepan


Buttery Pumpkin Thanksgiving Spoon Cake

  • 3/4 C all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free flour)**
  • 1 stick butter, separated **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub 1/2 C dairy-free/nut-free butter spread, like Earth Balance)**
  • 1 C powdered sugar, separated
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 15-oz can pumpkin purée—not pie filling
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs **(for EGG ALLERGY sub 2 T flax seed + 1/3 C water—more info below)**
  • 1/4 C heavy whipping cream **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub heavy coconut cream or other dairy-free/nut-free whipping cream)**

Spiced Pumpkin Whipped Cream

  • 1/2 C heavy whipping cream **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub heavy coconut cream or other dairy-free/nut-free whipping cream)**
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 C powdered sugar
  • 1/4 15-oz can pumpkin purée—not pie filling

Pumpkin Spice Hot Cocoa

  • 3 C milk **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free milk or water)**
  • 1/4 15-oz can pumpkin purée—not pie filling
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 T cocoa powder (sweetened), dark or milk chocolate **(may contain DAIRY—check labels; for CHOCOLATE ALLERGY sub sweetened carob powder)**

Food Allergen Substitutions

Buttery Pumpkin Thanksgiving Spoon Cake

  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free/nut-free flour.
  • Dairy: For 1 stick butter, substitute 1/2 C dairy-free/nut-free butter spread, like Earth Balance. Substitute heavy coconut cream or other dairy-free/nut-free whipping cream.
  • Egg: For 1 egg, substitute 2 T flax seed + 1/3 C water. Stir and soak flax seeds in warm water for 5 minutes or until fully absorbed and thickened.

Spiced Pumpkin Whipped Cream

  • Dairy: Substitute heavy coconut cream or other dairy-free/nut-free whipping cream.

Pumpkin Spice Hot Cocoa

  • Dairy: Substitute dairy-free/nut-free milk or water. Sweetened cocoa powder may contain dairy—check labels.
  • Chocolate: Substitute sweetened carob powder for sweetened cocoa powder.


Buttery Pumpkin Thanksgiving Spoon Cake


This delicious cake recipe is inspired by the 1930s German-American dessert classic: Gooey Butter cake. The original recipe combines pie-like, crumbly crust with a topping that reminds me of cheesecake but is more soulful and buttery. Our Sticky Fingers rendition will replace the run-of-the-mill cream cheese with a more seasonal choice: pumpkin! This ooey-gooey creation will surely be a hit at your Thanksgiving table this fall season.

preheat + line

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners for easy clean up and serving.

measure + crumble

Measure the following ingredients into a large mixing bowl: 3/4 cup flour, 2/3 stick of butter (5 tablespoons), 1/3 cup powdered sugar, 1 pinch of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder. Once all the ingredients are in the bowl, using clean hands, crumble all the ingredients until large pebbles of flour and butter form. Set aside. The desired consistency should remind you of a strange looking pie crust.

measure + crack + whisk

Measure and crack the following ingredients into a medium mixing bowl: 2 eggs, 1/4 cup heavy cream, 2/3 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 can pumpkin purée, 1/3 stick of butter (as soft as possible), and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Once all the ingredients are in the bowl, whisk thoroughly to combine.

press + pour + bake

With your muffin pan and both bowls in front of you, it's time to assemble your Buttery Pumpkin Thanksgiving Spoon cake! Start with roughly a tablespoon of your dough and press that into each of the wells of the lined muffin pan. Press it down to make a firm base. Then, fill the cupcake liner as much as possible with about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of your pumpkin mixture. Once all the wells of the muffin pan are filled, slide it into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the top is a golden orangy brown but is still jiggly in the center.

cool + dollop + serve

The gooey cakes need to cool for about 5 minutes after removing them from the oven. Once you are ready and the cakes are cooled enough to handle, remove them from the muffin pan onto a plate and dollop a heaping helping of Spiced Whipped Cream (see recipe) on top and dig in! This soul food is sure to make your tummies very happy.

Spiced Pumpkin Whipped Cream

scrumptious science time

Shaking the cream in Step 2 will create friction. Friction is the resistant force that is present when two objects move across each other. In this instance, the cream will bounce and shake against the walls of the container. This friction causes the cream to become whipped cream. Friction can help to force air into the cream molecule, changing the fat structure of the cream. The fat, or lipid, molecule contains all sorts of fat, water, and a little air, protected by a barrier of triglycerides. When you shake the cream, the triglyceride barrier breaks down, allowing the contained fat to clump together and appear thicker. You will notice the cream is becoming more thick but not yet whipped cream. Now that the triglyceride barrier is broken down, air can more freely integrate into the cream, and before you know it, the cream will be standing tall because it is full of air bubbles. Now go put that cream on some pumpkin pie and QUICK before it deflates.

measure + shake

Measure the following ingredients into a non-breakable jar with a tight-fitting lid: 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Close the lid tight and let kids start shaking! Shake, shake, shake! You'll know the whipped cream is ready when the sloshing sound stops.

dollop + serve

Open the lid and check on the whipping cream. When it is ready, dollop 1/4 can of pumpkin purée into the cream and whisk it for 1 minute. The cream will deflate a little bit, but that’s okay! Serve chilled or immediately scooped over the top of our Buttery Pumpkin Thanksgiving Spoon Cake (see recipe)!

Pumpkin Spice Hot Cocoa

measure + whisk

Measure the following ingredients into a pitcher: 1/4 can pumpkin purée, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 4 tablespoons sweetened cocoa powder. Whisk the ingredients until the cocoa powder has fully disappeared into the pumpkin.

pour + whisk

Slowly pour in 3 cups of milk as you whisk. Continue whisking and pouring until all the milk is fully incorporated.

simmer + serve

Pour this mixture into a small to medium saucepan and steam over low heat for about 5 minutes or until you see steam rising from the cocoa. Once the drink is your desired temperature, pour into mugs and enjoy! This drink tastes great with a dollop of our Spiced Whipped Cream (see recipe) on top, and it's just as good over ice, too!

Surprise Ingredient: Pumpkin!

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Photo by Irina Wilhauk/

Hi! I’m Pumpkin!

"I'm orange, round, like to sit on your porch making faces in the Fall, and I'm good to eat! I'm a pumpkin! Of course, not all pumpkins are orange. We can be white, red, yellow, tan, blue, dark green, and even black! We're not always round, either! We might be tall and oblong or short and squat. We love it when families come to the pumpkin patch to pick out their favorite pumpkin to take home!"


  • The pumpkin is a winter squash that is believed to have originated in Central America. Seeds from pumpkins were found in the highlands of Oaxaca, Mexico, dating back to 7000 to 5500 BCE, about 9,000 years ago! 
  • Now, pumpkins are grown on six continents. The only continent that can't grow pumpkins is Antarctica!
  • Native Americans were eating pumpkins for centuries before European colonists arrived. They ate pumpkin seeds, used them as medicine, and made mats from flattened and dried strips of pumpkins.
  • Archaeologists have found pumpkin residue among the 800-year-old ruins of the Ancestral Pueblo people. 
  • A pumpkin is not the same as a Jack-o-Lantern. A pumpkin is only a Jack-o-Lantern once it's carved! Carving pumpkins into Jack-o-Lanterns is a tradition that started hundreds of years ago in Ireland. The Irish used to carve turnips, but when Irish immigrants arrived in North America and found pumpkins aplenty, they began to use those instead. 
  • Pumpkins were once endorsed as a remedy for freckles and snake bites. As if we need a cure for freckles!
  • According to Guinness World Records, Stefano Cutrupi of Italy harvested the heaviest pumpkin on September 26, 2021. His humongous pumpkin weighed over 2,702 pounds.

Anatomy & Etymology

  • Why are pumpkins orange? Before a pumpkin matures, it's green in color due to the presence of chlorophyll, a green-pigmented nutrient required for the pumpkin to absorb and use sunlight for energy and food. However, as a pumpkin matures, it develops phytonutrients called "carotenoids," which give a pumpkin its bright orange color. 
  • The stem of a pumpkin is often referred to as its "handle."
  • Thin, hairlike "tendrils" are often attached to the pumpkin's stem. As it grows, the pumpkin's tendrils cling to the vine and are green in color. These tendrils attach to and wind themselves around fences, posts, other plants, and objects on the ground to anchor the vine and protect the plant from the wind. 
  • Leaves grow on the pumpkin's vine and absorb sunlight to provide energy for the plant and its fruit.
  • We collectively refer to the pumpkin's outer skin and inner fruit as the pumpkin's "shell." Ribs are the indentations around the outside of the pumpkin's shell. 
  • The meat of the pumpkin is called the "pulp," or sometimes affectionately referred to as "pumpkin brains!" Attached to the pulp are lots of pumpkin seeds that can be cleaned, dried, and roasted with salt (delicious!). The inner part of each pumpkin seed contains a nut (technically, the "germ" of the seed), and this is what eventually develops into a new pumpkin. 
  • The word "pumpkin" originated from the Greek word for "large melon," which is "pepon." The French called it "pompon." The English used "pumpion." And, American colonists changed "pumpion" into "pumpkin."  

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • A pumpkin is used as a vegetable in cooking, but it's actually a fruit! It's a member of the Cucurbita family, which includes squash and cucumbers. 
  • Pumpkin flowers and seeds are edible.
  • Undoubtedly the most popular recipe that uses pumpkins is pumpkin pie. But pumpkin pulp can be used for everything from baked goods to soups to ice cream, pudding, and even beer!
  • You can store uncut pumpkins for up to 60 days in a cool, dark place!


  • Pumpkins contain potassium, vitamin C, soluble fiber, and beta carotene. 
  • Vitamin C and beta carotene are two powerful antioxidants that help protect cell membranes and the immune system. 
  • Potassium is good for circulation and healthy blood pressure, and it's great for bones. It also helps take blood pumped from hearts through arteries and veins to muscles and organs.
  • Beta carotene is great for the health of our eyes! The body takes beta carotene and converts it to vitamin A, which our eyes need to stay healthy. When this happens, it signals the immune system to create white blood cells, which help the body fight off infection. 
  • Soluble fiber is so good for our digestive systems! Fiber also helps slow the absorption of blood sugar into our tissues.


History of Gooey Butter Cake!

Photo by Brent Hofacker/
  • Gooey Butter Cake was created in St. Louis, Missouri, in the 1930s during the Great Depression. A recently hired baker not only switched the amounts of butter and flour for a cake batter he was making, but he also used the wrong type of butter. He included the gooey butter used to glue Danish rolls and stollen together and coconut, crumbs, and nuts on top of cakes instead of the deep butter used to make coffee cakes. The bakery owner, not wanting to waste ingredients, decided to bake the cakes anyway, and they became a hit with customers.
  • The rich buttery cake is traditionally made with cake flour, butter, sugar, and eggs and dusted with powdered sugar. It is a flat, dense, moist cake sliced like a brownie. The bottom of the cake is a sweet yeast-raised dough. 
  • A quicker variation of the cake consists of a base of yellow cake mix batter and butter with a top layer of eggs and cream cheese and a dusting of powdered sugar.  
  • Gooey Butter Cake is the unofficial dessert of St. Louis. You may soon be a fan when you try the Sticky Fingers Cooking version, Buttery Pumpkin Thanksgiving Spoon Cake. 

Let's Learn About Thanksgiving!

Photo by Monkey Business Images/
  • A Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated on various dates in a few countries and other places. It is a national holiday in the United States on the third Thursday in November and Canada on the second Monday in October. The holidays began as a celebration of the harvest and the past year's blessings.
  • In the US, the traditional beginnings of the holiday began in 1621 as a three-day celebration to give thanks for the harvest. The Pilgrims living in Plymouth Colony (Massachusetts) were joined by several members of Wampanoag Indians, who may also have brought food with them. Although the Pilgrims did not refer to their feast by name, it is usually called the "first'' Thanksgiving.
  • The foods the Pilgrims and Wampanoag ate would have been somewhat different than our traditional Thanksgiving dinners. According to an account written in the journal of William Bradford, the leader of the Plymouth Colony, the Pilgrims had access to cod, bass, and other fish, venison (deer), waterfowl, wild turkeys, and Indian corn (as bread or porridge). Later reports of their crops besides corn may indicate they also had beans, carrots, grains, lettuce, onions, peas, pumpkins, and turnips. 
  • Since that "first" Thanksgiving, national proclamations made to celebrate a day of Thanksgiving include ones in 1782 by the US Congress, in 1789 and 1795 by George Washington, in 1798 and 1799 by John Adams, and in 1814 by James Madison. Various states also proclaimed days of Thanksgiving.
  • Starting in 1846 and continuing for 17 years, Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of Godey's Lady's Book magazine, campaigned for a national Thanksgiving holiday to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. She sent her requests to newspapers and government leaders. 
  • Finally, in 1863, during the Civil War, Sarah's editorials moved President Abraham Lincoln to proclaim Thanksgiving a national holiday to give thanks for the nation's general blessings and military successes. Since then, it has been observed every year. 
  • In the United States, the modern Thanksgiving dinner typically consists of turkey, dressing or stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole or other vegetables, and pumpkin or other pies. After the feast, families often take walks, watch American football games, go to the movies, play games, put together jigsaw puzzles, or decorate for Christmas. Some families volunteer to serve dinner at homeless shelters. 
  • Cooking methods for the Thanksgiving turkey have changed over the years. In addition to roasted, you might be served a turkey that has been deep-fried, smoked, broiled, or grilled.

Lettuce Joke Around

What is a pumpkin's favorite sport? 

Squash! (like racquetball)

THYME for a Laugh

What do you use to mend a jack-o-lantern?

A pumpkin patch!

That's Berry Funny

What do you call people who like to drink hot chocolate all year long? 


The Yolk's On You

What type of key has legs but can't open doors? 

A tur-key!

That's Berry Funny

Why was Cinderella not very good at softball?

Because her coach was a pumpkin!

Lettuce Joke Around

What did the turkey say to the computer? 

Google, google, google!

THYME for a Laugh

What do you wear to Thanksgiving dinner? 

A har-vest!

The Yolk's On You

What do you call a sheep covered in chocolate? 

A Candy Baa!

Lettuce Joke Around

What do you like best about autumn?

I like pumpkin spice a latte!

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