New Year, New Dessert: Chocolate Pecan PieCake Goes to 11

For the past 10 years, ever since my eldest daughter was a baby in a bucket, my family has spent New Year’s Eve with our good friends The Millers. That first year, we could all fit around their small dining room table. Now their party has grown into a crowded affair, with more children than adults, but it is still just as much fun.

The party theme this year was “It goes to 11”. If are a fan of the movie This Is Spinal Tap, then you understand the reference. If not, I’ll explain. The movie is a mock documentary about a British rock band past their prime. In this pivotal scene, lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel shows off his favorite amplifier:

Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and…
Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it’s louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it? It’s not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You’re on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty DiBergi: I don’t know.
Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Marty DiBergi: Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.

So how to interpret this theme? At first, I considered recipes with 11 layers or 11 ingredients. But then, I had an epiphany. Its not about 11, its about going over the top. You take it to the limit and then you blow everyone away.

Hmmmm… Pecan pie is fantastic, chocolate cake is scrumptious, chocolate and pecans are good together…ding ding ding. I’m going to make a PieCake…a pecan pie baked inside of a chocolate cake.

I’m not the first person to bake a pie into a cake. However, up until now, the pie-in-cake phenomena has primarily been a joke. A weird concept to be sure, but would anyone actually eat the famed Cherpumple or, more recently, the Pumpple?  I don’t serve gross food. My PieCake needs to taste good and it needs to look good.

It’s 1/1/11. Let’s take it to 11 people!

Chocolate Pecan PieCake

CAKE, etc.
Cake portion adapted from a recipe from The Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook

Print-Friendly Recipe


  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter plus more for greasing pan, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
  • one 8 or 9-inch Pecan Pie, fully baked and cooled to room temperature


  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped


  • 8 or 9-inch pie tin, preferably disposable (you may need to cut it)
  • 10 X 3 inch cake pan

Fully bake a pecan pie (or buy one, I won’t tell) preferably in a disposable pie tin (so you can take it out easily later). Let it cool to room temperature.

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees. Grease your cake pan and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa, coffee and water. Add in the vanilla. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the melted chocolate and mix until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the wet ingredients, beating well after each addition.

Spoon 1/3 of the batter evenly into the bottom of the cake pan. Take the pecan pie out of the tin (you may need to cut it out, so it might make sense to bake your pie in a disposable pie tin) and place it right side up on top of the batter. I thought that the pie might sink to the bottom either now or during baking, but like a ship, it sailed on top. Next time, I might put the pie in upside down because later I frosted the cake upside down, so if the pie was flipped in the pan, it would be right side up in the cake.

Wow! This seems like the baking equivalent of female mud wrestling. What is that pie doing wallowing in all that brown batter? I feel a little dirty. Anywho, cover the top and sides of the pie with the remaining batter. You may want to thwack the cake on the counter a couple of times to make sure there are no air pockets hiding between the pie and the side of the cake pan. Smooth the top.

Looks like a cake, but there is a secret inside.  😉

Bake in a 350 F degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at THE EDGE of the pan comes out with just a few crumbs. Why the edge? Because the pie is in the center and that will alter your results.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes the turn it out upside down onto a cooling rack to cool completely. When the cake is cool, it’s time to make the ganache frosting. Yummmmm.

MAKING THE GANACHE FROSTING: Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream to a simmer then pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for 1 minute then gently stir until the all the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth. Let it sit at room temperature for 25-35 minutes stirring occasionally until it is frosting consistency.

Frost the top and sides of the upside-down cake and sprinkle with the chopped toasted pecans. Then have fun making your friends guess what’s inside before you slice it.

I’m reminded of Horton Hatches the Egg. “My goodness!  My gracious!” they shouted. “MY WORD! It’s something brand new!...It’s a PieCake.”  I’m paraphrasing of course.  Enjoy!



  1. Wow… that piecake really is an 11. Love the theme of your
    party. Happy 2011!

  2. Your “piecake” is truly innovative and looks divine! Really creative and gorgeous photos, too! I would totally eat this and I can’t say enough great things about it–


  3. WOW – I have never seen anything like this in my whole life. This is one of the most creative desserts I have ever seen . I bet it is to die for.

  4. Pecan pie it is!! I’ve wanted to try this but pumpkin pie in chocolate cake just didn’t sound nice to me. Going to get a pecan pie now!!!

    • Put the pumpkin in a spice cake!!

      • And apple in yellow cake!

  5. Wow! My eyes literally widened when I saw this photo. Soooo drool-inducing.

  6. Gasp!

  7. I love This is Spinal Tap! So good! I know that it is impossible to take it past 11, but this might be a 12…or, like, a 20,000.

  8. F****n’ Genius

    • Thanks! And sorry for the censorship…my kids read the blog so this is a family show. 😉

  9. Totally, completely awesome and !!!!genius!!!! I gotta make me one!

  10. What a beautiful dessert. I still remeber your dessert “Fred”. You should enter that pie cake in some contest.

  11. This is GREAT!

    It takes a lot to make me speechless, but I am. You just blew my mind. I saw the pic on gawker and wondered how the hell you did this and now reading the recipe.. I HAVE to do something like this! Thanks for the inspiration!

  12. seems much simpler than a turducken

    • To truly make it the turducken of desserts, I need to think of one more dessert to put inside it or to encase it in. My husband suggested I should bake a cookie into the pecan pie, but that just seemed silly. Other suggestions?

      • How about a brownie inside the pecan pie?

      • How about candy in the pie…like truffles or fudge.

      • You should just make the pie crust from a cookie and another round cookie for the top of the pie. Then it would be pie, inside cookie, inside cake 🙂

      • This might be good with cookie crumb on the frosting, or some-mores inside the pie, or cheesecake inside the pie.

  13. Nice! I did the same thing except, I made it with a pumpkin pie…….Soo good 🙂

  14. Saw this on pinterest. I am speechless. Piecakes, where have you been all my life?

  15. I made this for my son’s 21st birthday and left it for him and his friends (so I didn’t get any). They called me during the party to ask about it–they were so impressed. I think that’s a great compliment!

    For my sister’s birthday, we’re going to try putting a mincemeat pie in a carrot cake…we can’t get enough mincemeat.

  16. I tried this, and I’m not sure if it was my pan or my oven, but my cake cooked completely on the bottom and the sides, but did not cook on the top. It took forever and the rest of my cake burned. So sad. 🙁

    • So sorry to hear about your cake tragedy. 🙁 By the top, do you, in fact, mean the bottom? Since the cake is flipped out? Perhaps the cake wasn’t evenly distributed around the pie. I’ve only made this once and it turned out well, but I can see how it might not cook evenly if the batter wasn’t evenly distributed around the pie. Isn’t this a funny thing to talk about? — Heather

    • Wrap the edges around the pie with foil and leave the center exposed. (like you would a pie crust so it does not burn on the edges.) This was recommended on another site.

      • I meant wrap the foil around the piecaken. Not just the pie. Wrap it around the edges of the pan.

    • Perhaps cooking the PieCake at the top of the oven would help cook the top better. Setting the cake pan in a larger pan of water might also help the sides cook more slowly?

  17. I made chocolate cherry pie cake. I put it in a springform pan so you didn’t have to turn it over. The top of the cake didn’t get quite cooked so it was kind of a lava fudge cherry pie cake. I think I’ll put more than 1/3 batter on the bottom. Might cook a tad more even. Happy cooking

  18. Made this and it came out amazing! I did it for a birthday party and received raves from everyone! Thank you =)

  19. Can I substitute Kalua for the coffee?

    • I think so. You may want to cut back on the sugar by a couple of tablespoons to compensate. If you try it, let me know how it turns out. – H

  20. I made this over the weekend and it was a huge hit with my entire family. Chocolate heaven!

  21. Knowing my love of outrageous desserts, a colleague told me she saw a cherry pie baked into a black forest cake at the local superstore. I immediately started searching and spotted the photo of your pecan piecake (aka Pake) slice. A whole new door has opened up for me. “By God,” I said. “I will bake this and devour it with my family.”

  22. I am going to try this one. I have done an apple pie with spice cake and a spice frosting and a cherry pie with a black forest cake with chocolate frosting . Then there was a key lime pie with a coconut cake with a white frosting with toasted coconut on it too.

  23. Ahh…is this legal…?

  24. The ultimate question…..How does it taste????

  25. I have been dieing to make the Piecaken but I was worried about just using any ole cake recipe as it had to be strong enough to hold the pie. This chocolate cake recipe was perfect. I made a cherry pie completely from scratch and then backed it into this cake. It was amazing and not too hard. I did bake it in a springform pan and did bake it for a little longer than listed but it was perfect. Thanks!!

  26. THANK YOU!!! I have been dying to make a piecaken but hadn’t found the perfect chocolate cake recipe that would be able to hold up the cherry pie properly. This recipe was perfect and was a hit! I baked it in a springform pan and I did bake it for a bit longer…and it turned out perfect. Thank you!!!

  27. Do you use coarse or fine sea salt?

    • Either. Or kosher salt works too. Just remember that you can always add a little more. It’s harder to take it away.


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