Pumpkin is a healthy vegetable when eaten on its own or in a low fat dish. But it also has a sweet, luxuriant flavor that lends itself fully to rich, sugary desserts. This torte brings out the pumpkin's naturally nutty undertones by highlighting them with brown sugar and pecans cooked into a crunchy praline topping. Slightly sweetened cream heavily dosed with vanilla whips up into a smooth layer that lightens up the cake's richness.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease the bottoms of two 9-inch cake pans. Make the pralines while the oven heats by combining the brown sugar, butter and whipping cream in a saucepan over low heat until the butter and sugar are blended.
Divide this warm mixture between the cake pans and then sprinkle the pecans on top of the caramel sauce. Set aside while making the cake layer of the torte.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves in a medium-sized bowl. In a large bowl, beat the eggs on medium-high for two minutes. Add the brown sugar 2 tbsp. at a time while continuing to beat the mixture at medium-high speed.
Reduce mixer speed to medium, add the pumpkin puree, and beat for 1 minute. Slowly pour the oil into the batter in a steady stream while keeping the mixer at medium-high speed. Once the oil has all been added, continue to beat for 1 more minute. Reduce the mixer speed to medium low and add the flour mixture and stir until just blended.
Spoon the batter into the cake pans and bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the from oven and cool in their pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edge of the pans and then invert them onto the wire rack. Slowly lift pans off of the cake and allow the cakes to cool completely.
Whip the cream, sugar and vanilla with a mixer on high speed until the cream is thick and stiff. Chill in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the torte.
Assemble by placing a cake layer (praline side up) on a serving plate and spreading two-thirds of the whipped cream mixture on top. Cover with the second cake layer and remaining whipped cream. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.
Refrigerate the torte for at least 2 hours before serving. Leftovers will keep for up to 4 days if they are covered and stored in the refrigerator.