I can’t believe Thanksgiving is upon us. It snuck up on me for two reasons. First, Hurricane Sandy threw everything off. Because of her, we didn’t even have Halloween. Halloween is like a prelude to Thanksgiving – a warning that Thanksgiving will be here soon. But, that holiday was canceled and I was out of work for 2 weeks because our office flooded. So, the end of October and beginning of November basically didn’t happen. Second, Thanksgiving is weirdly early this year. Last week my sister asked me what I was baking for Thanksgiving dessert, and I was all like, “who knows, I’ll figure it out later.” She pointed out that Thanksgiving was a week away. Hm. Who knew?
Later this week I will be preparing a Thanksgiving cake. I haven’t made it yet so that is not what I’m featuring in this blog. Instead, today I bring to you Pumpkin Swirl Brownies, which I trust you will find seasonally appropriate. My co-worker put in a special request for these, so once we finally went back to work I brought them in to celebrate the occasion.
Yes, celebrate. You would hardly believe that several days into our “temporary retirement” (what I called my forced absence from work) everyone was itching to get back to our regular working routine despite normally threatening to “quit this place!” or “jump out the window.” Even today we are unable to occupy our office, but we have found a temporary work home. The situation is not ideal, at times we feel tempted to strangle one another, we are without our regular computers, and many of our files remain in the abandoned office. We were given two opportunities to hike up 14 stories in the dark to our cold, stale office and retrieve whatever we could carry. Only necessities were lugged back down the stairs in backpacks. Originally we were told that we’d be able to reoccupy our building by year’s end, but thankfully that date has been moved up considerably to (hopefully) the end of the month. We have certainly learned that it takes a lot of time to fix electrical, ventilation, elevator, fire suppression, water, etc. systems in a high-rise building.
Before I get to my primary recipe, I want to show you a picture of some cute pumpkin cookies that I made.
I used a large cookie cutter and decorated with royal icing. These would be a great decoration at each plate at your Thanksgiving table, or add a name to each one and it will serve as an edible “place card”. The cookie can be your standard sugar cookie, although I used a recipe I found online for Pumpkin Spice sugar cookies to make them a little more “fall-ish”. The flavor wasn’t as bold as I was hoping for, but I’ll make them again with more spice added.
Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
source: Martha Stewart
½ c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 c all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
¼ t cayenne pepper
½ t salt
1 ¾ c sugar
4 large eggs
1 T vanilla extract
1 ¼ c solid-pack pumpkin
¼ c vegetable oil
1 t ground cinnamon
¼ t ground nutmeg
½ c chopped nuts, optional (I used walnuts, but you could use hazelnuts or cashews, etc.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan, line bottom with parchment paper or aluminum foil, and butter lining.
- Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler or microwave, stirring occasionally until smooth.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.
- Combine 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. Layer with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer.
- With a knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle with nuts.
- Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares.