This year, for Thanksgiving Dinner, I decided to break away from the Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Pie, Apple Pie tradition and make something different, yet stick to the Pumpkin theme. I would say, that was a very good idea. Now, it's not that I don't like pie -- I actually *love* pies. It just seems to be a huge waste on thanksgiving as most folks are so stuffed from the day's gorging that they can do no justice to a wedge (or two, or three) of pie. Me included! So I decided to go with something that is a lot more amenable to little bites and yet, delivers big flavor and satisfaction. Tall order? Let's see...
I went in search of recipes that would be fun to make, sounded tasty, and would look nice enough to be worthy of a festive meal. I absolutely love brownies, and pumpkin brownies sounded divine. Except that most recipes I came across seemed to be basic brownies with a pumpkin-y layer. Didn't sound all that wow! I quickly realized that I needed a recipe where the pumpkin-y contribution would be just as intense and decadent as its chocolate-brownie counterpart. And boy, did I ever find one? This recipe is from Cara's Cravings, and it is a definite keeper. Hey, I think this might be on the regular brownie rotation in our house.
Oh, lest you think we skimped on dessert on T-day, we had some pumpkin cookies and a pumpkin roulade too. And we're still going to have the pies - just not on T-day. I told you, I love a good pie!
Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies
Adapted from Cara's cravings
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp table salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pumpkin Cheesecake batter:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp vanilla exract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 8x8 square metal baking pan with foil. Leave an overhang, so you can use the foil as a sling to get the brownies out easily. Coat the foil lightly with butter or neutral oil.
2. Brownie batter - Beat together melted butter, sugar, and vanilla till light and creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. In a small bowl, whisk the dry ingredients till well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients into the wet, mixing just until incorporated. Set aside.
3. Cheesecake batter - Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and egg. Add pumpkin puree and vanilla and mix till creamy. Mix flour and spices in a small bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix till creamy.
4. Spread 2/3 of chocolate brownie batter into the prepared pan. The batter is thick, so use a rubber spatula and make sure to cover the corners. Spoon the cheesecake batter on top of the brownie batter. Spread to cover evenly. Now dollop the remaining 1/3 of brownie batter on top of the cheesecake batter. Swirl the batters together using a butter knife. Do not overmix. It might not look like much at this point, but don't worry. It's all good. Don't start pondering Plan B yet :-)
5. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the center is just set. It is ok if it feels a bit underdone.
6. Cool completely on a wire rack (leave brownies in the pan) and refrigerate, at least 6 hours, or better, overnight.
7. Use sling to get the brownies out. Use a sharp serrated knife to cut brownies. A good trick is to wet the knife in hot water before each cut. This ensures a nice, clean cut and finish.