Holiday Indulgences: Sugar-Free Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake (a tribute to Paula Deen)

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Pumpkin. Gooey. Butter. Cake.

If you’ve heard of Paula Deen, you know what this awe-inspiring seasonal dessert creation is. Or more importantly, how it tastes. When I made this for my family as a freshman in high school, a new holiday tradition was born. We couldn’t stop eating it, and somehow a day after Thanksgiving there was nary a crumb in the pan of leftovers.

I can’t promise you that this low carb, sugar-free, and gluten-free version of Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake will put you into a sugar coma like the original recipe, which includes a package of storebought cake mix and a whole pound of the white stuff. It is still, however, a stick-to-your-ribs ending to a Thanksgiving feast. I simply reduced the sugar and left in all of the nourishing fats and flavor. Just half of a piece of this rich cake is completely satisfying, likely because all of the sugar that gets your seratonin going and kicks up your appetite is blissfully absent from this low carb creation.

It’s nice to have only one stuffed Turkey at the Thanksgiving table, no?

Pumpkiny, sweet, and buttery. Just a bit gooey at room temperature. Not too spicy, with a hint of fragrant vanilla. A word of caution: You might never want to go back to pumpkin pie.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Recipe Notes:
~Make these one full day before you want to serve them, so they have time to set up and reach maximum yumminess.
~I made a small version in an 8 by 4 loaf pan, due to limited resources (read: a college student budget). If you want to make a half recipe, go for it!
~Bake this cake on the middle rack in your oven.
~For best results, powder the erythritol (in a coffee grinder or blender) before adding it to the crust layer.
~Try to beat as little air as possible into the filling so it doesn’t crack on top.
~You can amp up the spices if you like, using your favorite blend from a pumpkin pie recipe.
~I didn’t use organic cream cheese due to said student budget, going against my self-imposed organic dairy rule. Go for it if you have the means to do so!

Find out more about why I use erythritol here

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

Healthier Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake (Sugar-Free!)

Serves 8
A low carbohydrate version of Paula Deen’s beloved Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake. You’ll never want to go back to pumpkin pie after trying this considerably more decadent pumpkin dessert!


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Crust Layer
  1. 1/4 cup (57g) of organic unsalted butter, melted
  2. 2 ounces (57g) of cream cheese, softened
  3. 2 cups (8 ounces, 226g) blanched almond flour, gently packed into cup and leveled
  4. 1 large organic egg
  5. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  6. 1/8 tsp sea salt
  7. 1/2 cup (100g) erythritol*, powdered
  8. 1/4 teaspoon good tasting pure stevia extract (I use Trader Joe’s)
  9. 1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  10. 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Filling Layer
  1. 8 ounces (227g) cream cheese
  2. 1 stick (113g) unsalted organic butter, melted
  3. 1-15 oz can (432g) of pumpkin puree
  4. 3 large eggs
  5. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  6. 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons (125g) erythritol
  7. 1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
  8. 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  9. 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  10. 1/4 teaspoon ginger
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For the crust
  1. Melt butter and soften cream cheese in microwave.
  2. Grind erythritol in coffee grinder and mix into batter.
  3. Mix together until smooth, then add vanilla, egg, and sea salt.
  4. Add stevia, baking powder, and almond flour.
  5. Scrape into an 8 by 8 metal pan and spread out over the bottom.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes and remove to cool.
For the filling
  1. Soften cream cheese and melt butter in microwave.
  2. Grind erythritol in coffee grinder or magic bullet.
  3. Beat cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth and without lumps.
  4. Add eggs, vanilla extract, and melted butter, and beat until incorporated.
  5. Next, add erythritol, stevia, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, and mix just until smooth.
  6. Rap the pan down on counter top a couple times to get out air bubbles.
  7. Pour pumpkin mixture over crust and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until center jiggles a bit when you move the pan. It will set up and sink down upon cooling overnight in the refrigerator.
Notes
  1. *You can replace the erythritol in the crust with 1/3 of a cup of xylitol, and the erythritol in the filling with 1/2 cup of xylitol. Read more about xylitol here.
Adapted from Paula Deen
Adapted from Paula Deen
Healthy Indulgences http://healthyindulgences.net/

Nutrition Facts in the Healthy Indulgences Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake:

The entire cake contains 3,568 calories, 52g net carbohydrates (fiber subtracted), 329g fat, and 83g protein. 

Nutrition Facts in Paula Deen’s Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake:

Paula Deen’s original cake contains 6,874 calories, 887g net carbohydrates (fiber subtracted), 344g fat, and 70g protein.

Serve topped with fresh whipped cream to max out the decadence factor. Let eyes roll back in head.Healthy Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

  • Penny

    Hi Lauren! I swear you are a genius! thanks so much for sharing with the rest of us!
    When do you add the almond flour in the recipe? I think you may have left that out by accident. thanks again!
    Penny

  • Anonymous

    You continue to amaze me. I will be trying this as pumpkin gooey butter cake is a favorite of mine. What really always gets to me are your photos. You are a gifted photographer AND cook. I absolutely love your website.

  • dana aka Gluten Free In Cleveland

    Goodness. After looking at the picture, I had to check the title of the post AND blog to make sure this was actually healthy and lower sugar/fat.

    The picture looked that good. So yummy. Paula would be proud i’m sure.

  • Sophie

    Gooey AND healthy?! Sounds like a dream come true :)! Great recipe to adapt :D.

  • Gwuinifer

    Recipe says 1 can pumpkin, packed– did you mean 1 cup? I am going to be making this as soon as you tell me! :) Looks bee-you-tee-full!

  • Health and Fitness

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  • Lauren

    Penny – Thanks so much for catching that! You are welcome.

    Anonymous – Thank you! I hope you enjoy the pumpkin cake. I’d to hear how it goes for you!

    Dana – Thanks for stopping by! Paula’s cake works beautifully since we can eat butter on a low carb whole foods plan. :)

    Sophie – Your comments always make me smile!

    Gwuinifer – Hey girlfriend, it’s one whole can of pumpkin. I think the can said “packed” on the side somewhere, but you are totally right to question these things. Wasting ingredients is such a pain! Lemme know how it goes for you, will ya?

  • Anonymous

    okay Lauren, I can’t WAIT to see what you cook up for Christmas. Maybe something gingerbread-like? OR eggnog?
    Any way, I am SO going to buy your cookbook once you publish one. You ARE going to publish one, aren’t you? Your photos alone would sell me.
    I am grateful for gluten-free yummy recipes.

  • Mee-Lise

    Ahhh—too late! The low-carb pumpkin pies with almond butter crusts and low-carb vanilla ice cream I just finished making are taking up all the room in my fridge!

    Thank heavens there’s next week.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Lauren! :-)

  • Viv

    I made this for Thanksgiving and we LOVED it. I chilled it the night before & it sliced & served up very nicely. We didn't feel deprived one bit while the rest of the family ate regular desserts! I also love your No Bake Bars. They are fantastic! Please keep the recipes coming.
    Oh, I also bought the Rooibus Tea at TJ's and love it! You are just full of helpful suggestions and recipes!! Thank you SO much!

  • Jennifer

    Lauren, your photo looks so yummy and the ingredients sound great. I am very tempted to make this, but even reading the recipe was fun! :-)

    Did you know powdered erythritol is available from Netrition.com? It’s easier than having to grind the granular version. I switched from the granular to the powdered when I discovered it (it almost tastes like confectioner’s sugar).

    Hope your Thanksgiving was a happy one. ((HUGS))

  • jeri

    I made this for Thanksgiving and am still enjoying this yummy cake-thank you Lauren for yet another great recipe that I will be using again!
    Jeri

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    Hi there! I totally admire people who could live a healthy lifestyle and ingest healthy but scrumptious meals. I read your blog although you don’t know me coz I really find it interesting. BTW, I changed my blog address to http://www.justsweeterthansugar.blogspot.com./ Feel free to visist ir anytime ;) Thank you and keep posting ;)

    • Lauren Benning

      Abby, I tried to have a look at your blog, but it is hidden. Did you continue to post on it?

  • Naomi Devlin

    Wow! I’m literally speachless. I have to make an SCD version of this – now…..

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    I realise now that I should have written speechless…. Doh

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  • Anonymous

    I made this last night and it seriously has to be the best LC treat I've ever made! This will replace traditional pumpkin pie for the holidays. My husband who eats sugar and white flour everything loved it and said it was better than anything store bought. I didn't tell him how I made it tho! :)

    ~Emm

  • Mee-Lise

    Hi Lauren – hope your studies are going well! This is the year when I finally do this thing!

  • Lauren

    Mee-lise – Thnak you!

    We'll both be making this for T-Day. :D Please let me know it turns out for you. :)

  • Mee-Lise

    Ah, delicious! And a big hit with with the family! Thanks for another winner, and have a great Thanksgiving!

  • Stephanie

    made this for thanksgiving. amazing!!! everyone loved it. great crust. and the filling has just the right amount of sweetness. you are a goddess!!

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  • Phebe and Gerry

    Lauren,
    I've said it before and I HAVE to say it again….you are GENIUS! Please please please make a cookbook! I will reserve one before it's even out.

    This is SUCH a great tasting pumpkin dessert. It's not just "good for a healthy dessert", I mean I'd even say it's better than any normal pumpkin pie I've ever had.

    I think I may have overcooked it a tiny bit since it didn't sink (I've found that I have to cook less than your recipes indicate. Maybe I have a hotter oven or different altitude).

    Anyone wondering if this will be a good holiday dessert…I PROMISE you will not be disappointed with this!

  • Low Carb Cake

    I'm always looking for new low carb options and this one is fantastic. I did tweak an ingredient or two because of what I had on hand, but this is a fantastic recipe. You have an informative and beautiful site.

  • Lee

    Lauren! Love the recipe. So if I were to half the recipe, about how long do you think I should bake?

    Thanks!

    • Lauren Benning

      Lee, I’m not sure how to adjust the baking times for half recipes.

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    Thanks a bunch for all the really good recipes, they are delicious and at the same time healthy, or at least more healthy than standard recipes.

  • Lisa

    Hi Lauren! Thank you for your wonderful blog full of great recipes. I have moved to a highly restricted carbohydrate diet for health reasons and your posts have really helped me explore non sugar/traditional flour options.

    My husband and son always insist that on their birthday they want pie – not traditional cake, so that has been the tradition every year. I decided there was no reason I could not make something we could all eat, and found this recipe. What a hit! It really was fabulous!

    I think next time I will half the crust recipe as it was much thicker than that shown in your picture. I have to say that erythritol is my new favorite sweetner. You cannot really tell the difference between it and sugar in the finished product as far as I am concerned.

    Thank you!

  • Carol Anne Bilbrey

    I made this tonight, as I was looking for a healthy pumpkin recipe. The weather has changed in AZ, and Fall is in the air. I've been feeling the need to bake something for several weeks. This is delicious!! I will be making this for Thanksgiving and will not tell my extended family that it does not have sugar or flour in it. I guarantee you, they will not be able to tell the difference. Thanks so much for an amazing recipe!!

  • Eve

    I have this in the oven right now and it smells wonderful. I am adding a touch of cinnamon to my whipped cream. Can't wait to try it. Yum..thanks for the recipe.

  • Erica

    What about subbing Splenda for the erythritol or xylitol? I know the sugar alcohols might be better, but I only have Splenda granulated at the moment and want to make this.

    • Lauren Benning

      Erica, the cake would not turn out well with Splenda.

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  • http://none bianca e

    Hello Lauren what can i substitute for almond flour since iam allergic?

    • Lauren Benning

      You could use half ground sunflower seeds, half ground pecans, Bianca. I would reduce the butter by 2 tablespoons.

  • Rica

    Happy Thanksgiving Lauren! I am thankful that there are bloggers like yourself that provide us with so many delicious and doable recipes to try. I made this SF Pumpkin Gooey butter cake on Monday to see whether it would pass the rigors my husband gives every SF thing I make, and it passed with flying colors, so yummy! Not only have I been sharing this with everyone, even my dentist, I’ve been adding it to my hot cereal in the morning, and my cottage cheese at night. Made it again in the morning for a feast that we will be attending tomorrow. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    • http://www.healthyindulgences.net/ Lauren B.

      Rica, I’m delighted to hear you enjoyed it so much! Your dentist too? Guessing he was able to appreciate its lack of sugar. ;) It was a good Thanksgiving. It’s gonna be an even better Christmas since there’s no studying for classes that must be done at the moment.

  • Phillip

    I tried this in a 9″ pie pan. Had to reshape the crust after baking it, but it worked beautifully, if a bit stuck on the pan. Definitely has potential, but is that a misprint on the amount of sweetener in the crust? The crust was syrupy sweet and overpowered the flavor of the pumpkin. Also, I think the crust would have benefited from a longer baking time before addition of the filling. The filling could have used a bit more spice. Family ate it up, but black bean chocolate cake still takes the cake.

    • http://www.healthyindulgences.net/ Lauren B.

      Phillip, when I remade this recipe this year I thought it was a bit too sweet! Did you use NuNaturals stevia and erythritol?

      The crust isn’t suited to be made in pie form – you’re right about that. :D Sorry to hear you learned the hard way! Perhaps adding an egg white would crisp it more. I haven’t made it that way. Thank you for sharing your experience with it!

  • Rica

    Hi Lauren,

    Just wanted to say that the SF Pumpkin Gooey butter cake was a big hit at the gathering. No one believed it was sugar free! I was even able to share the reason why I gave up wheat and sugar, and I think some people just had no idea how bad that stuff is for you. I think the SF Pumpking Gooey butter cake will be a new Thanksgving tradition at our house from now on. Love your recipes!

    • http://www.healthyindulgences.net/ Lauren B.

      Rica, I love hearing from you! You write such detailed, thoughtful comments that are always a pleasure to read. I’m glad you got to share your reasons for being g-free and sugar-free. How empowering for you, and educational for your family! We made pumpkin gooey cake too this year. :D Glad to hear you’ve created a new, healthier tradition!

  • Tara

    Copy. Paste. Print. Bake. Enjoy!!!! Thank you!!!

  • Claire

    Hi Lauren – Great site! I just started baking with erythritol so was happy to come across your blog. I clicked on your link for “All you ever wanted to know about erythritol ” but t does not work. Any idea about the link? Thanks!

  • Rebecca Widmer

    Hi Lauren,
    I have been gluten free for a few years now, as are all four of our kiddos, but sugar has been something here recently we have been learning to deal with. We needed a healthier lifestyle, but we still love to have treats for holidays such as this Easter (today). This is an amazing treat, and everyone at dinner today loved it as well. My daughter actually has never liked pumpkin pie, but I told her this was something new to try and she LOVED it! Thank you so much for sharing it!
    Rebecca :)

    • Lauren Benning

      Rebecca, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Perhaps it can make appearance at this year’s Thanksgiving table? :)

  • Sarah

    Hello! I just made this and thought it was really delicious. I am just curious though, the bottom layer didn’t really turn out much like a cake, but more like a very thick crust. It’s still tasty, but I am wondering what I did. It also didn’t sink down at all in the middle. Perhaps I baked it for too long? I took it out while it was still jiggly. Just wondering if you have any thoughts. I love everything I make from your site!!

    • http://www.healthyindulgences.net/ Lauren B.

      Hi, Sarah! The bottom is supposed to be a bit crust-like, but no too hard. Hmm… it may have been a baking time issue, like you said. The cake should sink a bit, but the sinking doesn’t matter as long as the cake’s consistency isn’t too firm. It should be just a bit gooey when warm. Thanks for your feedback, Sarah!

    • http://www.healthyindulgences.net/ Lauren B.

      Hi, Sarah! Your oven may run hotter than the one I used to design the recipe. :) The cake should definitely be a bit jiggly when you take it out. Shorten the baking time a little, and see if it doesn’t come out more gooey! Thanks for your feedback about the recipe, Sarah.

  • sandra

    Do you have the nutrition facts for this recipe?

    • http://www.healthyindulgences.net/ Lauren B.

      Hi, Sandra! The nutrition facts are in my e-book. You can also enter the ingredients and quantities into the Recipe Analyzer at caloriecount.about.com. Each cup of almond flour weighs 2 ounces. I do not count erythritol or stevia, since the amount of carbohydrates they contain is negligible.

      I am currently in the process of updating each post with printable recipes and more complete nutrition information. Please pardon my dust while the site is revamped. :)

    • Lauren Benning

      Hi, Sandra! The recipe has been updated with the nutrition. I used the Recipe Analyzer at caloriecount.about.com for this. Above, you can even see a comparison to the nutrition facts of Paula Deen’s original version.

  • Courtney

    This looks amazing and I cannot wait to try it!!! Wondering though, about how much pumpkin is 15oz? I have actual pumpkin (from a whole pumpkin) and am not sure how much to use. Thanks!!

    • http://www.healthyindulgences.net/ Lauren B.

      Hi, Courtney! I opened up a can of pumpkin just for this. One can contains 1 cup + 3/4 cup + 1.5 Tablespoons of packed pumpkin puree. Phew! :)

      If you made your own pumpkin puree, I would recommend draining it in a cheesecloth-lined mesh sieve overnight. After that, your homemade puree should contain the same amount of water as the canned stuff.

  • Blake Feagin

    Can I recommend not softening butter and cream cheese in the microwave. Not only can it make the cheese lumpy and weird but also this: http://usahitman.com/microwave-test/

    • Lauren Benning

      That experiment doesn’t hold up under scrutiny, Blake. I recommend talking to a physics professor at your local college about EM radiation and microwaves for more information about this matter.

      • Blake Feagin

        Yea, after I posted this I did a little further research and found the snopes page on this article. But I still stand by not microwaving cream cheese. It really does get lumpy! Sorry for the post of misinformation.

        • Lauren Benning

          Blake, you made a good point about cream cheese being tricky to heat up in the microwave. Do you have a suggestion for an alternative method of heating it?

          • Blake Feagin

            It took me over a month to find this page! I suggest softening cream cheese on the warm stove. My grandmother often used a double boiler to melt it down.

          • http://www.healthyindulgences.net/ Lauren Benning

            Thank you kindly for the suggestion, Blake. I’ll add it to my cooking tips page (coming soon!). Also, I’ll what I can do to make it easier to find recipes. ;)

  • Terrorelf

    Made this tonight and everyone loved it – thanks for another great recipe!

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