Special equipment: 1 large pumpkin-shaped cake pan (recommended: Nordic Ware Brand) 1 (12-count) small pumpkin-shaped cake pan (recommended: Nordic Ware Brand) 1 wine cork, for large cake Green raffia Toothpicks Soldering wire
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray both large and small cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, coat with flour, and knock out the excess.
For the cake: Combine the cake mix with the pumpkin puree, oil and eggs. Using a hand mixer, beat on medium until well incorporated, about 3 minutes. Using an ice cream scoop, fill 6 of the the mini pumpkin pans 2/3 of the way to the top. Fill the unused cups with water so the pan doesn't burn. Pour the remaining batter into the large pan, 2/3 of the way up the sides. Bake the small pans until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 10 to 12 minutes. Continue to bake the large cake until browned and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean as well, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and, once cool enough to handle, invert onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Slice the tops off of each cake so that it is flat. Spread about 1/4 cup of the frosting on the cut side of the large cake. Place the other cake half on top of the icing to form a large pumpkin. The icing will act as glue and hold the 2 halves together. Repeat the process with the smaller cakes using 1 tablespoon of frosting per cake set.
For the fondant: In a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat together the confectioners' sugar and pumpkin puree. Slowly add water by the tablespoonful until a very thick but pourable consistency is reached. Color the fondant orange with a few drops each of red and yellow food coloring. Put the icing in a resealable zip top bag. Place the cakes on a wire cooling rack fitted in a sheet pan. Snip the corner the zip top bag and start to squeeze fondant over top of cakes, allowing to drip down the sides. Let the fondant dry before inserting the stems.
For the stems: Wrap the cork with the green raffia. Insert a toothpick half way into the cork. Insert into the top of the large pumpkin. Cut the soldering wire into 6 (6-inch) pieces and fold each piece into thirds to form one thick piece about 2 inches long. Wrap with raffia and insert into the top of each small pumpkin cake.
This makes 1 large and 6 small pumpkins. For a large table and centerpiece, the recipe can be double or tripled. Be sure to mix in batches and cool pans completely in between baking batches.
Recipe courtesy of Sandra Lee