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.
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.