Marbled Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf Cake

Slices of marbled chocolate pumpkin cake with a knife

Chocolate and pumpkin seem an unlikely combo that somehow pairs just right. Come fall, it’s hard for me to bake anything pumpkin without reaching for chocolate, be it chocolate chips or cocoa powder. This recipe for Chocolate Pumpkin Cake manages to include both in a moist, just-decadent-enough cake that I love for dessert or an afternoon treat. 

How to Create a Marbled Cake

If you think a marbled loaf cake is for pastry pros alone, let me assure it is not. In fact, you need just one batter, one bowl, and two basic steps to get the job done. 

  1. Start by stirring together the wet ingredients, which include pumpkin puree, olive oil (preferable to butter, since it’s lower in saturated fat), eggs, and brown sugar. Then, in goes the dry ingredients (whole-wheat pastry flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and baking powder). Once mixed, pour half the batter into a loaf pan.
  2. Next, stir cocoa powder into the remaining batter, then add that to the loaf pan. Use four or five swift strokes with a big spoon to scoop the pumpkin batter from the bottom of the pan into the chocolate batter at the top, making pretty swirls along the way.
Overhead shot of chocolate pumpkin cake on parchment

A Flexible Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

I like to make this in a generously greased loaf pan. There’s something homey and appealing about it to me. That said, you could also bake this cake a few other ways.

  • Pour the batter into a muffin tin. My daughter Rosie did it this way and the little cakes earned rave reviews by her and her college roommates. “I could cry about how good they are,” she reported.
  • Fancy things up by baking the cake in a generously greased and lightly floured Bundt pan. 
  • Use an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan that’s greased and lined with parchment paper. 

As for timing, I haven’t tested this cake using different types and sizes of pans. If I had to guess, I’d say 25-ish minutes for a muffin tin, 45-ish for a Bundt pan, and 35-ish for a square cake pan. You’ll know it’s done when a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with moist crumbs, but no wet batter. 

Tips for Marbled Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

  • Try not to over-mix or over-bake it. This is key for a moist cake. 
  • If you prefer a basic pumpkin chocolate chip bread to a marbled cake, stir the chocolate chips into to the pumpkin batter and pour all of it into the loaf pan. You’ll eliminate the cocoa powder and additional 3 tablespoons brown sugar from the recipe.
  • Let the cake cool at least 40 minutes before taking it out of the pan. You can continue to let it cool on a wire rack. 
  • Fill the loaf pan no more than 3/4 of the way up the side. If the pan is on the smaller side, pour extra batter into a muffin tin and you’ll have a few little cakes to enjoy. 
  • Know that it doesn’t need to be picture perfect to be delicious. If you don’t nail the marbled look right out of the gate, you can try it again next time

If you like this Chocolate Pumpkin Cake, check out:

Baked Pumpkin Donuts

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Spice Blueberry Muffins

One-Bowl Slow Cooker Pumpkin Bread

How to Make your Own Pumpkin Purée

Slices of chocolate pumpkin cake with knife

Slices of marbled chocolate pumpkin cake with a knife
5 from 1 vote

Marbled Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf Cake

Pumpkin and chocolate are a dream team in this supremely moist loaf cake. You make the batter in a single bowl, starting with the pumpkin, then the chocolate. Scatter dark chocolate chips between layers of batter, then stir it into a pretty swirl. You can bake it in a muffin tin or square cake pan if you prefer. It's an excellent cake for an afternoon treat with a cup of tea or a comforting dessert. I like to cut thick slices and then cut those slices in half for serving.

Course Snack, Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Chocolate Pumpkin Cake
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 10 slices
Calories 307 kcal
Author Katie Morford


  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree, unsweetened
  • ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar, plus 3 tablespoons (divided)
  • 2 eggs
  • cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ heaping cup dark chocolate chips, divided


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a standard 1-pound loaf pan (9×5-inch) with non-stick cooking spray.

  2. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the pumpkin, ¾ cup brown sugar, eggs, olive oil, and vanilla until smooth and creamy.
  3. Add the flour to the bowl and sprinkle the pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt over the top. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until mixed in.
  4. Pour a little more than half the batter into the greased pan and smooth it evenly along the top. Scatter half the chocolate chips over the batter.

  5. To the batter remaining in the bowl, add the remaining 3 tablespoons brown sugar and cocoa powder. Whisk just until mixed together. Pour the chocolate batter into the loaf pan, smoothing the top. Scatter the remaining chocolate chips over the batter.
  6. Use a soup spoon to marble the cake. To do this, scoop some of the pumpkin batter from the bottom of the pan and drag it forward an inch or so to the surface so you can see the pumpkin color. Repeat this four or five times in different sections of the loaf, so you get a marbled effect. If it doesn't come out great, not to worry. It will still be moist and tasty.

  7. Bake until a toothpick or thin paring knife comes out with moist crumbs, but no wet batter, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Cool for at least 40 minutes.

  8. Run a knife around the edge and invert the loaf. Set it upright and cut into slices.


10.18.2022 at9:09 AM #


Promise I’m not just saying this because I’m her daughter, but these are incredible. So delicious, perfectly moist, a dozen muffins were gone at my college house within 24 hours. And they look fancy/spooky because they’re marbled but it only takes an extra 1 minute.

10.19.2022 at1:13 PM #


I can hardly wait to make this! –your recipes are the best💚💚

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