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the time for pumpkin

October 29 2009 by Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Uncategorized » 30 comments


Somehow, October has all but slipped away.  Along with it will go the leaves that have been so beautifully dying, daylight savings time, patches of late summer weather, outdoor farmers’ markets, that lovely golden fall light, and, perhaps most sadly of all, pumpkin baking season.


I know many of these things won’t disappear immediately, but the end of October, I think, is the beginning of the end of the fall.  Quite an ominous honor, but late October carries it well.  And sure, when it comes to pumpkins, the gourds will be around for weeks more, but most will be jack-o-lantern-bound this weekend or pie-bound at the end of November.  Let’s face it: the time for pumpkin is waning.


Somehow, this site has been bereft of new pumpkin posts this season.  The case in my kitchen, however, has been quite different—happily so.  There’s been this loaf, which I’ve since tweaked to produce a taller loaf that’s now studded with walnut halves instead of chocolate shards.  There was also supposed to be a pumpkin cake, topped with brown butter glaze, but at the last minute, it became these brownies instead.  And these, brownies, it turns out, are the best of all.


The recipe is a hybrid—part brownie, part pumpkin bar.   And the sum of these parts has got it all as far as late October recipes are concerned: Halloween colors: check!; warm spices: check!; a little bit of treat (chocolate! butter! sugar!) and a little bit of trick (a subtle kick of cayenne): check!


It’s also got pumpkin—which weaves its way through these brownies in a pattern not unlike the one that a zebra sports.  And, because by my calendar, pumpkin season is all but over, I suggest you make them now.


Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies
Adapted from Martha Stewart

This recipe, when cooled and cut, yields a pretty cakey brownie.  If you, like me, prefer a more fudgy brownie texture, store these in the fridge, where they’ll firm up and become just perfect.

Yield: 16 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
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan or dish. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; butter lining.

Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.

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.

Divide batter between two medium bowls (about 2 cups per bowl). Stir chocolate mixture into one bowl. In other bowl, stir in 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.

With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect.

Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.

30 comments so far. »
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  1. Dawn in CA says on October 29 2009 at 10:55 am:

    Oh my gosh! I swear, I was just thinking this morning that I haven’t made brownies in a while, and wouldn’t it be yummy to mix in a little pumpkin with the chocolate? Then – voila! A great recipe on your site. Love it! I am definitely making these, and soon. :) One question: is the cayenne taste pretty subtle? My son’s okay with a little heat, but my twins’ little tummies can’t handle spicy foods. Thanks!

  2. Amy says on October 29 2009 at 11:07 am:

    Oh my goodness, Kristin, I just made these last week and they are AMAZING!!!! One of my favorite pumpkin desserts, ever. They are indeed the “best of all.”

  3. Jill says on October 29 2009 at 12:49 pm:

    Can grapeseed oil be substituted for any other kinds of oil? I’d love to try these, but I don’t have any grapeseed.

  4. ashley (sweet & natural) says on October 29 2009 at 12:50 pm:

    How funny! I just posted my take on that recipe last week – http://sweetandnatural.wordpress.com/2009/10/24/pumpkin-brownies/ If you want the brownies to be more fudge-like, take out the baking soda! That’s what I did, and they turned out perfectly.

  5. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on October 29 2009 at 1:05 pm:

    Dawn: It’s meant to be! About the cayenne, it’s subtle. You might not know it was there if you weren’t looking for it. In light of your twins, though, it wouldn’t hurt to dial it back a bit.

    Amy: So, so good! That brulee of yours looks amazing too!

    Jill: Yes, any neutral-flavored oil will do. I hope you give them a try!

    ashley: They look great!

  6. Miriam/The Winter Guest says on October 29 2009 at 1:44 pm:

    In spite of the net being flooded with pumpkin, these brownies look very, very atractive…

  7. Whitney says on October 29 2009 at 1:48 pm:

    Pumpkin and chocolate. Somehow in my head they don’t seem to mix but I might have to give these a whirl.

  8. ingrid says on October 29 2009 at 2:50 pm:

    I’m finally getting started on pumpkin here and you’re telling me it’s over?! Guess I better hurry and give this a try!

  9. Seth says on October 29 2009 at 3:36 pm:

    These were an excellent post flight snack food.

  10. Flavia says on October 29 2009 at 6:41 pm:

    Great post and beautiful pictures. I will be making these this weekend!

  11. Christine says on October 29 2009 at 7:18 pm:

    They’re beautiful! I’m particularly intrigued by the cayenne. . . so clever. Please don’t say pumpkin season is over. Please.

  12. sherri says on October 29 2009 at 8:25 pm:

    hooray!! just the right dessert to bring to a halloween party this weekend… wondering if i could sub whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose? i hate to tweak your recipe but i have all the ingrediants on hand except for all purpose flour.

  13. Barbara says on October 30 2009 at 5:38 am:

    Perfect recipe to take to my book group! I never met a pumpkin recipe I didn’t like, but have to be honest and say this one takes the pumpkin!

  14. Lu says on October 30 2009 at 6:43 am:

    Yummy! Brownie swirl goodness… I’m drooling.

  15. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on October 30 2009 at 7:19 am:

    Miriam: It does seem to be everywhere you turn right now.

    Whitney: That’s funny — I adore the combination.

    ingrid: Okay, okay — it’s not *really* over. : ) But, yes, still do hurry.

    Seth: Hello!! I’m so glad you enjoyed. Would you believe that I made another batch after you left on Sunday? It’s true.

    Flavia: Thank you! Enjoy!

    Christine: Am I allowed to say it’s almost over? : )

    sherri: I think that’s usually a pretty safe substitution. If you try it, please let us know how it goes.

    Barbara: Tee-hee! Takes the pumpkin. That made me smile.

    Lu: Drool away!

  16. Mimi says on October 30 2009 at 8:04 am:

    I am not ready for pumpkin season to be over. Pumpklin and cayenne how interesting. I can’t wait to try it.

  17. Elizabeth says on October 30 2009 at 11:48 am:

    I posted these earlier this October. They were delicious, no?

  18. tara says on October 30 2009 at 12:34 pm:

    The cayenne sounds like the kicker – love the thought of that bit of heat. Thanks so much for the tip about the fridge, I’m firmly in the fudgy camp.

  19. Mint says on October 31 2009 at 11:01 am:

    Love the cayenne. But mine didn’t cook in the middle! They’re currently swaddled in foil and back in the oven for a bit….

  20. Polly Rice Sumner says on November 01 2009 at 3:36 pm:

    Oh man, these were good. I also like fudgier brownies so I reduced the baking powder by half and used applesauce in place of grapeseed oil. It’s so hard for me to ever completely stick to a recipe. :-)

  21. Sophie says on November 02 2009 at 5:44 am:

    Wow,…I am amazed by your baking talents!! these look absolutely fab!!!

    MMMMMMMMMMMM,…a must try!! Thanks!

  22. Rebecca says on November 02 2009 at 1:44 pm:

    YUM! Pumpkin and chocolate are the most delicious combination!! Can’t wait to get in the kitchen and make these!

  23. giao {kiss my spatula} says on November 02 2009 at 4:18 pm:

    how stunning! i still have 3 pumpkins yet to be touched. ohhhh…this is perfect.

  24. jenn says on November 02 2009 at 4:26 pm:

    I love this recipe and have made them a couple times this season. Oh so very yum.

  25. Tabitha (From Single to Married) says on November 03 2009 at 11:21 am:

    These look heavenly and they may be the only way I get my husband to actually eat pumpkin (I kind of have to sneak it in since he doesn’t usually like it and I LOVE it)! :)

  26. Jill says on November 03 2009 at 1:31 pm:

    Do you think that reducing the number of eggs might make them fudgier?

  27. pumpkin swirl brownies « Sassy Radish says on November 13 2009 at 10:00 am:

    [...] Pumpkin Swirl Brownies Adapted from Martha Stewart & Inspired by The Kitchen Sink [...]

  28. Moby says on January 26 2010 at 3:28 pm:

    Ok, I hope you read this. I know Im very late commenting and I wish I could email you and I know you disapprove of pumpkin so late (or is it early now?) in the year, but HELP! I made these and they taste delicious but I had to cook them for about 30 minutes longer than the recipe calls for to get the middle not raw and then the edges were crispy – too crispy and I was sad. Do you even deal with this kind of stuff? Am I pushing this blog thing too far? Anyway, if you do deal with this stuff, any suggestions about what I did wrong or how I could fix this? Thanks! And thanks for the blog. I love reading it and I try many of the recipes. Usually with mor success then this, I promise. ;-)

  29. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on January 27 2010 at 8:38 am:

    Moby: 30 minutes longer! That’s quite a bit longer. I didn’t have that issue. Does your oven typically run cool? I’m sorry to hear that these didn’t work out for you.

  30. Moby says on March 19 2010 at 6:40 pm:

    Made them again and they were perfect! Yay! I have no idea what happened the last time but thanks!

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