I've always been on the fence about the combination of chocolate and pumpkin. I will almost always choose peanut butter or caramel.... but this recipe made me change my mind. This most definitely works and if you've ever wondered why people insist on putting these two flavors in the same pan, well, this is why. It's delicious.
Leave it to Martha Stewart to find a way to make it work. The secret is the format. A brownie is the perfect texture to balance the richness of the chocolate with the spicy earthiness of the pumpkin layer. And my next project might be to transform this recipe into a blondie because I can't just leave a great dessert alone. The preparation is genius, although it does involve a lot of bowls. To start, you melt chocolate and butter together and mix a base batter.
Then you add the chocolate to one portion and pumpkin and spices to the other. Marble and swirl with a knife and whatever you do, don't stop to take pictures because this batter starts to set up and thicken right away. It's way easier to blend the two before this happens. Trust me.
To cut down on dishes, I just melted the chocolate in a pan over very low heat instead of using a double boiler. When I divided the batter, I measured out about half of the base into another bowl and poured the chocolate directly into the base remaining in the mixer bowl. It sounds involved, but it's very easy to assemble and there's one less bowl to wash. There didn't seem to be quite enough batter to make four different layers, so I poured half of the chocolate batter on the bottom of the pan, all of the pumpkin batter next and then dolloped the rest of the chocolate and swirled it. The next time I make this (without the photo-shoot) the batter should be a bit more loose and easier to blend. In the end, it was beautiful and delicious, which is all I ask for in a brownie.
Sprinkling nuts on top is essential. I happened to have some toasted and skinned hazelnuts, but you could also use pecans or walnuts. This brownie is very dense and fudgy ( there is no other brownie worth eating, really) and the contrast of a nutty crunch on top is perfect.
When we cut into these on the first day, I thought they were really good. What I wasn't prepared for was how much better they were on the second day. When the flavors blended, they were incredible. If at all possible, wait until the second day to serve these. Half the pan was gone by the time I made that discovery and I wished there were more... or you could always make a double batch.
from Martha Stewart
makes 16 brownies
1 stick butter plus extra
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. cayenne (optional)
1/2 t. salt
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 T. vanilla
1 1/4 c. pumpkin puree
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 c. chopped hazelnuts
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9" square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment and butter lining. (I just sprayed my pan with cooking spray; my brownies came out easily). Melt butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over pan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne and salt in large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs and vanilla in bowl of mixer and beat until fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture. Divide batter between two bowls ( about 2 cups batter each). Chocolate mixture into one bowl. In other bowl, stir in pumpkin, oil, cinnamon and nutmeg. Working quickly, move half of chocolate batter to pan, smoothing evenly. Pour half of pumpkin batter over. Repeat layers. Swirl layers with knife. Sprinkle with nuts. Bake until set, 40-45 minutes. Cool completely.