Fall has arrived, which translates to pumpkin everywhere. If you wait to bake with pumpkin until it's time for Thanksgiving pie, you'll be missing out on some excellent desserts.
Pumpkin is well-suited for baking, adding moisture and a tender texture to quick breads and muffins and cakes. While it's flavorful enough to star in a pie, it can also play a very subtle supporting role to chocolate. I put this to the test in today's recipes, adding pumpkin to brownies in two different ways: a fudgy brownie topped with a pumpkin cheesecake swirl and a more classic brownie with pumpkin mixed into the batter. Both are perfect examples of a pairing being greater than the sum of its parts.
Choose between the two recipes based on how much pumpkin you want to taste: The pumpkin swirl brownie showcases pumpkin more. It starts with a very fudgy, dense brownie batter laced with chocolate. On top, you'll spoon a quick cheesecake-like batter made of pumpkin, cream cheese, egg, sugar, and warm fall spices (cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg). You can swirl the two batters together as much or as little as you like, depending on how distinct you want the two layers to be.
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This bar is rich and intense. The brownie base is moist and studded with chunks of semisweet chocolate, while the pumpkin swirl is dense, creamy, and luscious.
If you're looking for something more traditional, try the classic pumpkin brownie. Rather than separating out the pumpkin, you'll swap some of the butter in a basic brownie out for pumpkin. The result is everything you look for in a brownie: a moist interior, fudgy enough to show your teeth marks when you take a bite, with cakier edges and a crisp top that shatters when you slice into it. It's hard to pinpoint the pumpkin; the flavor doesn't come through, but it adds a richness that's dissimilar to butter.
Since Halloween is just two days away, make a batch of one of these recipes to celebrate peak pumpkin season. Or, even better, make both and consider it an homage to the sugar-worshipping holiday.