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Thanksgiving Recipe: Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies

As much as I try to plan for it, Thanksgiving always seems to come out of nowhere.  In a rush, I’m working on the menu, figuring out the seating assignments, looking for ways to uniquely (and cheaply) decorate the table.  This year, I’ve decided to take control of the situation and get things done… now.

If there’s one thing I love about this holiday, it’s the excessive amounts of cooking that occurs.  That doesn’t mean that I enjoy making a lot of food, but I love the idea of spending multiple days in the kitchen, working hard to get everything done in time. Seeing that the kitchen is my zone (as my husband can attest), I feel the most comfortable standing over the stove.  It has a calming effect on me.  For our first recipe in preparation for Thanksgiving, we’re going straight to dessert. I first saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and was immediately struck by the pairing.  Chocolate and pumpkin?  Really?  How does that work?
After making them, I, unfortunately, don’t have a good answer for you.  The flavors just mesh beautifully together.  The cayenne (which I found to have a more prominent flavor in the pumpkin batter) balances with the sweetness of the chocolate.  All I can tell you is this, I’m going to be making these for years to come.  I followed this recipe according to Deb’s instructions.  And, like her, I did not have a 9″ square baking dish.  As a result, some towering brownies were produced and, to be honest, I kind of like that.
It really doesn’t seem to be Thanksgiving without something pumpkin on the table.  And these brownies, which are part fudge, part cake, are a terrific and creative use of the ingredient.
Check back later for some more recipe ideas for your Thanksgiving menu!
Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar (the original recipe calls for the larger amount; I think it could be dialed down a bit)
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or other nuts (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish. Cut a length of parchment that will cover the bottom and two sides (makes it much easier to remove), and line the pan with it. Butter the lining as well. (Deb note: I used an 8-inch square, because it was what I had. It works, too, but the brownies are crazy thick and take much longer to bake, just to give you a heads-up.)
2. Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until fluffy and well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.
4. Pour half of batter (about two cups) into a separate bowl and stir chocolate mixture into it. If you find that it is a little thick (as mine was) add a little more batter (a few tablespoons or so) until it is more pourable. This is important because mine was quite thick, and the pumpkin half was quite thin, so I had trouble swirling the two together.
5. In other bowl, stir in the pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer. Work quickly so batters don’t set.
6. With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect. Be sure to get your knife all the way to the bottom of the pan–I didn’t, and ended up with a chocolate base, not that it is such a bad thing. Sprinkle with nuts, if using.
7. Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.
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  • JenNovember 15, 2010 - 5:20 am

    Great pics! I've made a similar recipe and it always gets great reviews! I love all the cooking associated with TG too and have been obsessing over what I'm going to make for a small scale (hopefully) meal for Hubby and I the day after TG.ReplyCancel

  • sara @ CaffeInaNovember 15, 2010 - 5:25 am

    I was looking for a recipe to make with the little girl I bake with once per week. I could not find a pumpkin pie recipe that was doable in the time we have available and you just gave me the best idea with the best timing! Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • JackieNovember 15, 2010 - 10:40 am

    Mhm, these look tasty. I've got pumpkin on the brain at the moment thanks to a certain PFB challenge (which I'm not even sure I'm going to get through on, so this is really planning ahead!) and it's great to see what people do with it. I've actually never really cooked with pumpkin before, certainly never baked it, the closest i've gotten is a butternut squash risotto that's a staple of my cuisine.

    Excited to see what else you pull out of the bag for Thanksgiving, as those dinners are somewhat alien to me!

    Jax xReplyCancel

  • Lauren at KeepItSweetNovember 15, 2010 - 11:45 am

    yum! love that flavor combo:-)ReplyCancel

  • CourtneyNovember 15, 2010 - 12:22 pm

    Pumpkin and Chocolate are amazing together. Good idea on starting early. I'll be prepping to the last minute.ReplyCancel

  • Mardi @eatlivetravelwriteNovember 15, 2010 - 12:28 pm

    Right well it's clear that my breakfast just won't cut it now after seeing this. Gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Barbara BakesNovember 15, 2010 - 12:39 pm

    What gorgeous looking, tasty treats for the holidays!ReplyCancel

  • Kudos KitchenNovember 15, 2010 - 12:46 pm

    If you aak me, there is nothing wrong with towering browines! I kind of like that too :)
    Cayenne pepper, chocolate and pumpkin? You had me at brownies! Be still my heart! Print!ReplyCancel

  • freefoodbostonNovember 15, 2010 - 12:50 pm

    I've seen the whole pumpkin-brownie thing making the rounds a lot lately. I think I was skeptical at first because they're both such dominant flavors, but then I realized, I love pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, so why not put a different spin on the flavor combo? Yours look fantastic. I am definitely replicating them soon.ReplyCancel

  • AnnieNovember 15, 2010 - 12:52 pm

    I am saving this one, they look so good!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 15, 2010 - 1:00 pm

    I want that in my belly.


  • Jen @ My Kitchen AddictionNovember 15, 2010 - 1:01 pm

    These brownies look incredible… And, your photos are absolutely stunning!ReplyCancel

  • CherineNovember 15, 2010 - 1:04 pm

    A fabulous treat!ReplyCancel

  • bunkycooksNovember 15, 2010 - 1:07 pm

    One more use for all of my pumpkin stash! I will have to try these!ReplyCancel

  • JennNovember 15, 2010 - 1:28 pm

    Those look fabulous! Great pictures!ReplyCancel

  • StephanieNovember 15, 2010 - 1:35 pm

    Those must smell amazing as they are baking. Very unique and looks quite moist.ReplyCancel

  • Squeaky GourmetNovember 15, 2010 - 1:48 pm

    beautiful pictures–it looks like the pumpkin stays a moist cake and the brownie a rich fudge like brownie–perfect!ReplyCancel

  • LaurenNovember 15, 2010 - 2:03 pm

    These brownies look divine! I'm a sucker for anything with pumpkin, and these thick brownies are calling my name :) Gorgeous photos!ReplyCancel

  • Liz Marr, MS, RDNovember 15, 2010 - 3:34 pm

    Love the combination – chocolate and pumpkin. Beautiful photos.ReplyCancel

  • Bianca @ Confessions of a ChocoholicNovember 15, 2010 - 4:08 pm

    I love swirly brownies. It was so great meeting you yesterday Brian! Hope to see you again at other food events soon :)ReplyCancel

  • ElleNovember 15, 2010 - 4:28 pm

    WANT. NEED.ReplyCancel

  • MedifastNovember 15, 2010 - 4:38 pm

    Oh lovely brownies, the combination of the chocolate and pumpkin very nice treat.ReplyCancel

  • katNovember 15, 2010 - 4:49 pm

    That is a dessert I eat anytime not just ThanksgivingReplyCancel

  • JeanneNovember 15, 2010 - 5:24 pm

    I love the thickness of the brownies! I can't believe how quickly Thanksgiving snuck up on us. These are definitely the perfect dessert for TG or any other day of the year!ReplyCancel

  • emily @ the happy homeNovember 15, 2010 - 5:29 pm

    yum! i love chocolate and pumpkin (see my double chocolate pumpkin pie) but i especially love finger desserts at thanksgiving. mostly because i usually run out of clean utensils.ReplyCancel

  • JennieNovember 15, 2010 - 5:29 pm

    Wow these look SO good! Chocolate and pumpkin are the perfect pair!ReplyCancel

  • MeganNovember 15, 2010 - 6:01 pm

    These are two of my favorite flavors and of course I love me a brownie. Can you spell perfect?ReplyCancel

  • MonetNovember 15, 2010 - 6:28 pm

    Hi sweetheart. These look great. I loved the pumpkin brownies I made a few weeks ago, and I'm so glad that your batch turned out so well. Your photographs look STUNNING. I am impressed. As always. I hope your Monday is blooming with joy.ReplyCancel

  • heycanihavethatNovember 15, 2010 - 6:47 pm

    oy ve. That picture alone is too much for me.ReplyCancel

  • MeetaKNovember 15, 2010 - 10:19 pm

    oh yes – pumpkin & chocolate in a lavish brownie. i love the idea. brian you promised – if i come over you'll bake as many as i can eat. i can eat a lot! these look divine!ReplyCancel

  • TraceyNovember 15, 2010 - 10:26 pm

    If there was ever a time to eat something off of the web, this would be it. De-lish!ReplyCancel

  • Chef DennisNovember 15, 2010 - 10:39 pm

    those are gorgeous brownies Brian….pumpkin is finding its way into so many wonderful baked goods. Cayenne sound like an interesting ingredient, I have never used any heat in baked goods but I do see it…. those are great fall colours too, a feast for the eyes as well!

  • MarlyNovember 15, 2010 - 11:01 pm

    These look so yummy! What can be better than chocolate and pumpkin!ReplyCancel

  • Kimberly PetersonNovember 16, 2010 - 12:58 am

    Oh these brownies are simply gorgeous!!! Perfectly baked, you are one talented baker :)ReplyCancel

  • Cake DuchessNovember 16, 2010 - 1:29 am

    Love pumpkin and chocolate together! Must try this recipe. This looks fabulous!ReplyCancel

  • Finance FoodieNovember 16, 2010 - 2:15 am

    Your photos are ridic (awesome)!ReplyCancel

  • JoanneNovember 16, 2010 - 3:06 am

    Oh my god let me tell you somethign super funny. I attempted to make these last night before I had even seen that you made them. you and I. we think alike. So I'm getting everything all mixed up. And I'm mixing the batter into the chocolate. And it just wasn't right. At all, not right. It almost seemed like the eggs in the batter were cooking as I added them to the chocolate even though the chocolate was totally not hot at all. So I just decided to chug ahead. Unfortunately NOT a good call. I couldn't really marble the brownies so I decided to make them into two layers – chocolate on top and pumpkin on bottom. the chocolate part was SO SO SO bad. I had to scrape it off and cover up my mess with nutella cream cheese frosting. But seeing yours gives me hope that I probably just did something really dumb. I need to try these again. Because the pumpkin part really was so damn delicious.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa {Authentic Suburban Gourmet }November 16, 2010 - 3:45 am

    What a PERFECT fall recipe and especially for Thanksgiving. I am so hungry right now and just wish I could pluck a square from the screen. Nicely done!!ReplyCancel

  • JamieNovember 16, 2010 - 11:49 am

    Wow! Those pictures are gorgeous and show just how moist, dense and flavorful these babies are – just as brownies should be. And you describe the flavors so well that I just have to make these now. Fabulous!ReplyCancel

  • briarroseNovember 16, 2010 - 4:03 pm

    Fabulous recipe. They look beautiful. I love the hint of pepper in the batter.ReplyCancel

  • The Duo DishesNovember 16, 2010 - 6:53 pm

    Chocolate and pumpkin have forever seemed like a strange pair, but people keep saying it works. And so we should just believe them by now. :) Just saw sweet potato and chocolate cream bars. If that works, why not pumpkin.ReplyCancel

  • ElianaNovember 16, 2010 - 8:45 pm

    These look glorious! I love that you started your Thanksgiving planning with dessert, my favorite part of any meal.ReplyCancel

  • Anna JohnstonNovember 16, 2010 - 10:27 pm

    I first saw the Pumpkin/Chocolate combo around Halloween & loved the striking colours together, but these bring it to a whole new level with the cayenne, awesome. Thanks for sharing Brian.ReplyCancel

  • Spicie FoodieNovember 17, 2010 - 12:59 am

    Delicious and so mouthwatering, thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • awbluemondaysNovember 17, 2010 - 1:31 am

    These look fantastic! The photos are just mouth-watering!ReplyCancel

  • MarkNovember 17, 2010 - 2:34 am

    Hey FoodBuzz friend! I love your blog! Not a big pumpkin fan, but this could work. Keep up the good work. Visit my blog sometime.


  • Healthy MammaNovember 17, 2010 - 2:59 am

    Oh Holiday season, why do you torment me so?
    I tell myself it's o.k. it's just once a year, go ahead and indulge, a little….. but there are just soo many wonderful recipes I come across such as this one! What's a girl to do?
    My favorite part I must say is the addition of cayenne! I have a super secret undercover recipe for choco-chip cookies that has cayenne, amoung other secret ingredients in it. Yum!ReplyCancel

  • The Calm CookNovember 17, 2010 - 7:13 pm

    Oh my, these look great! I want to try them asap! Great Thanksgiving recipe!ReplyCancel

  • Paula - bell'alimentoNovember 17, 2010 - 7:31 pm

    Pumpkin & Chocolate are ah-mazing together! Pumpkin & Nutella as well ;)ReplyCancel

  • Jacob's KitchenNovember 17, 2010 - 10:07 pm


    That is one sexy brownie. =) Such a great twist for this time of year. I will definitely be giving these a try very soon. Just bookmarked it! Thanks for sharing, friend! beautiful photos as always. =)ReplyCancel

  • My Man's BellyNovember 18, 2010 - 2:53 am

    I think this would make a most awesome french toast!ReplyCancel

  • Sippity SupNovember 18, 2010 - 1:17 pm

    Chocolate and pumpkin does indeed work. And who doesn't start with dessert in holiday planning? I always do… GREGReplyCancel

  • A Feast for the EyesNovember 20, 2010 - 12:36 am

    I just received my new Brownie Edge Pan. I was looking at some canned pumpkin and thinking that I should find a recipe for a pumpkin/chocolate swirl brown. Here it is! Looks great!ReplyCancel

  • Alison @ Ingredients, Inc.November 22, 2010 - 7:34 pm

    omg these look amazing!!ReplyCancel

  • Andrew FrishmanNovember 23, 2010 - 11:05 pm

    Mmnnn . . . I loves me some brownies, especially when you get to give people "swirlies"

    ¿Cómo le gustaría que el señor – cada uno sirve por separado, o todos se arremolinaban junto en un balde?ReplyCancel

  • LoraNovember 23, 2010 - 11:05 pm

    I made these for Halloween with Taza 60% dark chocolate and they were a huge hit.ReplyCancel

  • CourtneyDecember 23, 2010 - 11:56 pm

    So delicious! Thank you!ReplyCancel

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