Pumpkin Swirl Brownies


I like pumpkin, I’ll admit it. While I’m not one of those people who goes gaga for everything pumpkin that happens to spring from that unknown but infinite pumpkin source every time fall comes around, I do enjoy it. I like squash generally, and really what’s not to like about pumpkin?

That having been said, I didn’t set out to make a pumpkin recipe this time. I had just eaten some sweet potato chips, so I was thinking about doing something with sweet potatoes. I was remembering the great success I had with bananas, and I thought I could replicate that success with something else. Then I remembered that I had some pumpkin left over from the abundance of pumpkin season. I had bought what I needed for the pumpkin pie, and I had also bought an extra can just so I could use it in something else.

This recipe turned out to be that something else. I came across it, and I thought it sounded really good. I’ve had great success with other recipes from Smitten Kitchen, so I had high hopes for this one as well. It did not disappoint.

You know, sometimes I have a lot to say about the inspiration for a recipe. Sometimes I write about personal details or interesting stories that are related to the recipe. Sometimes it’s about more practical concerns, like what happened when I made the recipe. This is one of those more practical posts.

With that in mind, a few notes about what happened when I made this recipe: like the baker in the source I got this from, I only had an 8 x 8 baking dish. The pumpkin part turned out thinner and the chocolate part thicker for me, too. Also, when it came time to split the batter in half I guessed, because I didn’t feel like measuring it. I kinda split the difference on the sugar and went with 1 cup.

I didn’t do a double boiler for the butter and chocolate. I used the shortcut I learned from this recipe. I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate squares. I broke them up before melting, but I didn’t chop them, as recommended by the recipe. Perhaps I should have chopped up the butter a little bit too, so it would melt quicker, but I did have it at room temperature.


As I often like to do, I did all the mixing by hand. I’m not sure if it was fluffy enough. I did more than 5 minutes to be sure, because I was going slower and taking breaks. It’s hard doing all that mixing by hand. But I’m still glad I do that way. (Call me old-fashioned.) I also mixed the flour and other dry ingredients, but I didn’t whisk them.

The batter was hard to put in the baking dish. I had used cooking spray for the inside of the parchment paper. But because it moved around a lot while trying to put the batter in, I buttered the outside as well to try and help make it stick. It was also hard to swirl because the chocolate was too thick and the pumpkin too thin. I ended up mixing it more than swirling it. My thought was that maybe next time it would be better to melt the chocolate later, so it’s not just sitting around and congealing/thickening. Maybe after I mix the pumpkin into its half of the batter.

The pumpkin smelled yummy, even before it started baking. (That’s a scientific term, in case you’re wondering.) And the brownies smelled really yummy while baking, more pumpkin than chocolate, but not overpoweringly pumpkin. The spices waft through the air while they’re baking.

The brownies cooked for 45 minutes and didn’t need any longer. Because they are so dense, I cut them small. I did 5 x 5 for 25 brownies. We didn’t wait for them to cool completely. We ate them while they were still warm.

And how are they? They are dense and good and yummy. (More science.) There are good individual flavors. The chocolate doesn’t crowd out the pumpkin. They have a wonderful aroma of pumpkin and spices. In my opinion, it’s the cayenne in the flour that helps bring it all together. Cayenne goes well with the chocolate, and it also goes with the pumpkin and associated spices. As I mentioned, they weren’t completely swirled. But even though the chocolate and pumpkin did not mix evenly, they’re still really good.


I would definitely recommend that you try them out. And then let me know in the comments how they turn out for you.

Recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen.

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