pumpkin swirl brownies

When I first saw this recipe on the homepage of last month, my first thought was “ooh, how perfectly fall!” but then a second later, “wait, this can’t be right.” I mean, chocolate and pumpkin together? I have to admit, it sounds off to me.

everything starts with buttermelting chocolate with butter

In my overly-analytical head, pumpkin goes with nutmeg and cinnamon and ground ginger and pecans and bourbon and cream cheese and gingersnaps; chocolate, however, goes with a whole different slew of things, like scraped vanilla beans and walnuts or mint or peanut butter or cream cheese and maybe occasionally some chipotle powder. They’re different, you see, different, different, different.

making brownie batteradding the pumpkin layer

And then? Then I said “my god, Deb, you’re such a square!” and I made them anyway. Because seriously, can one possibly have too many recipes for brownies? There’s no way. I worry too much about these things. Every single person who tried them, loved them and in a way, they’re the quintessential fall indulgence.

Well, everyone but me. Oh, I like them. I think they’re incredibly tasty. It’s just that every time I try a bite of one, I find myself wishing they were either all pumpkin bars or all brownie bars. Oh, and I’d like either version to have a cream cheese swirl. So, in the end I would say that if this combination sounds good to you, it will taste good to you. And me, I’ll get working on that pumpkin bar… as soon as I get back.

pumpkin swirl brownies

One year ago: Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Deb and Alex went to Paris and all I got were these lousy brownies! Yes, it’s true. Alex and I have flown the coop this week and are (hopefully) wandering around ancient cobblestone streets in a wine and butter-induced haze. Comment responses will be slow–if at all–this week, but I have fortunately been cooking up enough of a storm that you should never be left without your smitten kitchen fix! We’ll be back before you know it.

Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar (the original recipe calls for the larger amount; I think it could be dialed down a bit)
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or other nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish. Cut a length of parchment that will cover the bottom and two sides (makes it much easier to remove), and line the pan with it. Butter the lining as well. (Deb note: I used an 8-inch square, because it was what I had. It works, too, but the brownies are crazy thick and take much longer to bake, just to give you a heads-up.)

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

3. 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.

4. Pour half of batter (about two cups) into a separate bowl and stir chocolate mixture into it. If you find that it is a little thick (as mine was) add a little more batter (a few tablespoons or so) until it is more pourable. This is important because mine was quite thick, and the pumpkin half was quite thin, so I had trouble swirling the two together.

5. In other bowl, stir in the 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.

6. With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect. Be sure to get your knife all the way to the bottom of the pan–I didn’t, and ended up with a chocolate base, not that it is such a bad thing. Sprinkle with nuts, if using.

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

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205 comments on pumpkin swirl brownies

  1. Well, I think they look delicious… but I’m not 100% sure what ‘solid pack pumpkin’ is. Is it pumpkin puree? Because I have a little sugar baby pumpkin on my mantel that may be screaming out to become part of a brownie.

  2. Selkie

    Yum: makes perfect sense to me. “sweetfineday” blog/shop has yummy pumpkin/white chocolate cookies. It is a combo, this choco/pumpkin taste, that needs to be explored MORE, me thinks!
    Thanks Deb.
    Hope Paris is lovely for you, while we eat chicken salad and bars.

  3. Deb,
    I blogged from Paris every day, with pics of boulangeries and things we ate at cafes! So we expect the same from you! ha!

    Since we were on NY time, it was easy, because we were up till 2 am, so what else to do but blog?

    Enjoy! Oh, and the brownies w/ pumpkin are beautiful, but of course!
    Stacey Snacks

  4. shawnna

    and omg I just got back from Paris last Saturday. Have a blast. Be forewarned, there’s been some construction/problems on the train out to Versailles, so it’s a pain in the butt to get there/get back.

  5. Erin

    I made these a few weeks ago after seeing them on the MSL website. I really wanted to like them but I ended up feeling like you, they weren’t chocolaty enough or pumpkiny enough for me. They’re trying to be too many things. They’re pretty, though.

    PS: The flavor of both elements (especially the pumpkin) did develop more over a few day which was a nice surprise.

  6. I tried these very same brownies… and I must say I have very similar comments… I just found that they were not great. They were good and they look good… but they didnt blow me away.

  7. I completely agree! I tried making a similar recipe last week and every time I bit into one, I wanted them to just be brownies or just pumpkin bars. Regular chocolate may be a little weird with pumpkin, but white chocolate goes perfectly.

  8. jamie

    the other day, i stood in line at an ice cream shoppe behind a woman who ordered a pumpkin milkshake made with chocolate milk. i thought she was crazy… right away i assumed the chocolate taste would over power the pumpkin flavor (and i like my pumpkin pure). is this true with these brownie bars? does one flavor takeover the other? either way, the pictures do make this treat look delicious!

  9. Hi! These look amazing! Before I run out and get the right ingredients…what is hard pack pumpkin and how is it different than pumpkin puree?
    Also, I made your chicken salad for dinner last night (on my blog) and it was amazing, thank you!

  10. Patrick

    Ooooh, I made a variation on these about a week ago, and I think I have a new signature dessert. The pumpkin and chocolate go MUCH better together than I thought. :)

  11. I did a chocolate pumpkin brownie recipe recently that had considerably more chocolate than pumpkin. I was disappointed that you couldn’t taste the pumpkin! How about a pumpkin cheesecake bar with mini choc. chips swirled in. That might take care of the flavor combo!

  12. This may come too late, but I just wanted to share some of my favorite local places here in Paris:
    Marche Aligre/Baron Rouge–market and wine bar near Bastille, both really lively on the weekend; the former is frequented by a mix of local bohemian bourgeous and North African immigrants
    Le Bar–next to the Poilane shop, it serves open-face sandwiches on the eponymous bread
    Gerard Mulot–shops in the 6th and right next to the Place des Vosges. It’s the best lemon tart in town
    Le Fumoir–hardly a secret, but a lovely place for a cocktail or coffee just across from the Louvre; great atmosphere and much less pricey than a hotel bar
    Email via my blog if I can be of help, and enjoy!

  13. My friend and I just made Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Co-workers were slightly dubious b.c they were 1) a pumpkin/chocolate combo and 2) vegan. Dubious until they tasted them and found out they were delicious!

  14. Pumpkin and Chocolate! Two great ingredients – these have to be good. When do you have time for all this fabulous baking? You are amazing.

    I will be posting some pumpkin recipes soon – come by and see.

  15. Joanna

    I feel exactly the same way, although whenever I say it, I’m the odd man out. Both pumpkin and chocolate (separately) are on my list of top 10 favorite foods of all time, but I feel that they don’t bring out the best in one another when paired in cake, muffins,cookies etc. Pumpkin is not enhanced by the chocolate, nor is the pumpkin doing any favors for the chocolate. Each is muddied by the other, not improved. It seems like a waste of otherwise great chocolate and pumpkin. That’s the way I see (taste) it, anyway! (And don’t even get me started on white chocolate, which will turn a good cookie into a tragedy in no time flat!)

  16. Susan

    I just made a batch of pumpkin oatmeal cookies that have some chocolate chips in them and they are wonderful. Of course, there are only 1 cup of chips, so it’s like a treat to get a chip..not a confusion of flavors. I’m with you on this one, Deb..I might like them as a novelity but would only attempt them if I had an office full of people to foist them on. And..I don’t.

  17. In New Zealand we’ve been making pumpkin chocolate muffins for years! It’s the only sweet thing we do with pumpkin though, other than that it is strictly a savoury food either for pumpkin soup or roast pumpkin. We think pumpkin pie is seriously weird!!

  18. I tried making brownies with a pumpkin & cream cheese swirl once — they were okay, but a little funky. I promised myself that if I ever made them again, I’d only spice the pumpkin stuff with flavors that can also go with chocolate (probably mostly ginger and just a pinch of cinnamon).

    I agree with Susan and RecipeGirl — pumpkin dough with chocolate chips sounds like a much better idea.

  19. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around pumpkin and chocolate, I just don’t know if I’d like it or not. I’ve recently seen lots of recipes with that combination but I’m still…ify about it.

  20. Jen

    Have you never had pumpkin chocolate chip bread? Poor thing! And, in my mind, chocolate and cinnamon together are fabulous! AND, I saw this recipe and said to myself, “I WILL MAKE THESE.” Enough said?

    Hope Paris was wonderful (who am I kidding? of course it was.)

  21. shayna

    Oh no, pumpkin and chocolate together = magical deliciousness. My grandma used to make pumpkin chocolate-chip cookies around Halloween and man. Those were terrific. Now I think I might have to make a batch of these brownies. You know. As a tribute.

  22. Nicole M

    I found out that pumpkin and chocolate make a nice mix last Christmas when my mom brought me a bottle of Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter. I’m definitely going to try these out. And toss some chocolate chips in when I’m making my pumpkin bread this year!

  23. I just made Martha’s Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie from the Nov Issue, and it was tasty! I wouldn’t have paired chocolate and pumpkin either but I had to try it. It tasted more like a chocolate-chai pie with a mellow pumpkin flavor, but I liked it anyway.

  24. Kelly

    Congratulations, you have managed to come up with a dessert that I have no desire to try! I did made the Cook’s Illustrated brownies after stumbling on an old link (plus I have the Best Recipe cookbook)…as usual, awesome!

  25. Jojo

    I love pumpkin and chocolate, but they only work, in my opinion, when the chocolate is an accent flavor, like pumpkin muffins with chocolate chips. These brownies, while terrifically photogenic, seem to suffer from a split personality.

  26. Winnie

    We tripped across this combination years ago with dark, moist chocolate cake and pumpkin ice cream. Sounded weird, tasted marvelous!!! A great discovery as a side effect of October birthdays in the family.

  27. I bookmarked these bad boys about a month ago, but have yet to make them. They sounded like they could be surprisingly amazing. But I think your assessment that pumpkin bars should only be pumpkin bars might be right. You should try out a pumpkin bar recipe with cream cheese swirl. Now that sounds heavenly.

  28. Susie

    Adrienne & Emily, solid-pack pumpkin is just canned pumpkin puree. Libby’s is the best-known, I believe, here in the States. Orange label and everything. NOT to be confused with canned pumpkin pie filling, which is spiced and sweetened. Hope that helps!

  29. Even though you were hesitant at first to embrace the chocolate & pumpkin combination, I’m glad that you went with the recipe – as always, Deb, you created a BEYOND tantalizing and phenomenal treat!! :0)

  30. Connie

    I thought it was just me! Yeah! I’m not the only one! Chocolate and pumpkin just does not jive in my mind! I see so many recipes for them together. I just pass them up! I’m such a traditionalist!

  31. Pumpkin and chocolate is one of my favorite combinations – I’m posting my recipe for pumpkin cupcakes with chocolate candy topping today, in fact! The pumpkin pie-type spices are still there, and some nice dark chocolate just makes it even better. These look pretty good, I might have to try them.

  32. lacrema

    For some reason, I’m never really a huge fan of the Martha Stewart recipes. They just seem to lack something. Sometimes a pinch of the right spices will fill the void (as in her Ginger Pumpkin Bread), but sometimes not. Speaking of last year’s Pumpkin Bread Pudding, I have a recipe for Gingerbread Bread Pudding that is absolute Winter Heaven if you’d like it. It is my hubby’s (and everyone else’s) favorite.

  33. I love the pumpkin and chocolate combo, but I don’t think I would attempt these- brownies are kinda like a holy thing for me- I don’t usually like anything except the plain chocolate variety. I make an exception for cream cheese additions though. These might be good if altered to be a regular ol’ fudgy brownie with pumpkin cheesecake swirled in… mmmm.
    Have fun in Paris- there is an amazing place for ice cream called Berthillon, which is about 5 minutes walking from Notre Dame. I have vivid memories of eating this like 10 years ago and thinking it was the best stuff ever.

  34. That’s funny–it must be a regional thing. Here in the west (I’ve lived in Northern California, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City) you can’t walk through a grocery store bakery without seeing pumkin chocolate chip cookies. It used to be that they only showed up in the fall, but they’re so popular that they’re around all year now. And Great Harvest (bakery chain all over the West–I’ve seen them in the Midwest, are they on the East Coast?) always has pumpkin chocolate chip loaves. Yum!

  35. elysek

    I agree that this recipe is in need of cream cheese or a cheesecakey layer of some kind. That said, I must mention that I too never considered pumpkin and chocolate as an appropriate combo – until a couple of days ago – when I happened to hear on the radio that Dairy Queen’s Blizzard flavor of the month was pumpkin pie. Although I have a Blizzard maybe every couple of years, for some reason the thought entered my mind that the absolute perfect add-in for this concoction would be Oreos. Go figure… If I decide to live dangerously and try it, I’ll let you know.

  36. Stacy

    I too fall firmly in the pro chocolate/pumpkin camp. I make pumpkin chip muffins every fall and they disappear with a quickness. Totally delicious. The pumpkin makes them absurdly moist. I can’t wait to try these brownies!

  37. Madeleine

    I just made these last night. This morning I was shocked to wake, log onto the computer, and find the brownies I had just baked staring back at me! I always thought that chocolate and pumpkin were an odd combo too. I was first introduced to the idea when my Dad topped a slice of my pumpkin bundt cake with a dollop of chocolate ice cream. But it kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? Think halloween, chocolate and pumpkin are probably among the first thoughts that follow.

  38. HootOwlGal

    Some of you have asked about “hard pack” pumpkin. I think what this may be what is commonly called “solid pack” pumpkin. This means canned pumpkin with nothing added. Make sure not to use canned pumpkin pie filling, because it has sweeteners and pie spice already incorperated in the mix.

    Someone else asked if she could use fresh pumpkin. I have done this many times before. Slice, clean and then bake the pumpkin (with the skin still on) at 350 degrees till the flesh is soft and mooshy.Cool, scrape from the skin and puree’. Yum. Then bake in the recipe of your choice.

  39. Amberoni

    Ach! I’ve long loved the kitchen of Deb, the smitten, but never posted until I was appalled into it by the lack of faith in pumpkin/chocolate combinations. Think about the origins of chocolate – the Mayans must surely have mixed chocolate with squash of all kinds long before Europeans sipped or nibbled the sweetened versions. And if you associate pumpkin with things like cinnamon flavors, be reminded of the wonderful partnership of cinnamon and chocolate – and if you are unacquainted with this friendship, add a sprinkle of cinnamon to your favorite brownies and eat the whole pan – or the whole bowl of batter.

    And if you don’t like the baked goods version, I MUST convince someone to try my favorite thing to drink in the fall – go to Starbucks and order a hot chocolate, then tell them to use Pumpkin instead of vanilla syrup when they make it (yes, the make ALL hot chocolates with vanilla syrup). It’s WONDERFUL. And it’s not too sweet because the chocolate syrup and pumpkin syrup are not nearly so saccharin as the vanilla.

    There. I may never post again, but as long as one person out there is converted, I’m OK with that. I hope everyone keeps cooking and posting such lovely results.

  40. Melissa

    I discovered the joy of chocolate and pumpkin 2 years ago when DH begged me to make a favorite childhood recipe he enjoyed as a kid: Chocolate Chip Pumpkin muffins. I was skeptical too, but now I make them several times a year and they’ve become a Thanksgiving breakfast tradition. I can’t wait to make the brownies!

  41. Cailin

    Funny- I just discovered my love for pumpkin and chocolate this afternoon. I was having a pumpkin carving party and felt obliged to a serve pumpkin dessert even though I was really craving chocolate. I made Elise @ Simply Recipes’ pumpkin bread (highly recommended) and, at the last minute threw in some semi sweet chocolate chips. I enjoyed the bread MUCH more this way! Now I’m reading this recipe and know what I’m doing with that other can of pumpkin puree I bought.

  42. Lizzie

    Funny, I usually get a mix of hazelnut-flavored coffee and hot chocolate at the corner store. The other day, the hazelnut coffee was empty so I decided to be adventurous and try mixing in the pumpkin coffee instead. And I did NOT like the pumpkin/chocolate/coffee combo. I wonder if I would like it better if I removed the coffee flavor from the equation, or if it was the pumpkin/chocolate I didn’t like. I didn’t consider it too closely at the time, but I may have to investigate.

  43. I’ve been looking for a good pumpkin recipe that isn’t the same old, same old. The butter alone in this recipe shouts “FLAVOR” not to mention all that chocolate. And combined with pumpkin, yum! Thanks for the post, I gotta try this one.

  44. Pumpkin and chocolate are one of my favorite fall dessert combos. I actually put pumpkin and a little cinnamon in with my chocolate cake. It’s PERFECT in the fall. So warm and festive. I can’t wait to try this one and continue the pumpkin-chocolate love. Why oh why can’t I live near you so I can pop in to eat your food? Such a tragedy.

  45. I make pumpkin chocolate chip muffins every autumn. My daughter has brought them to school and I have brought them to church breakfast. At first everyone is skeptical, but each of those people have turned into pumpkin chocolate lovers at one bite! I even searched your website last month to see if you had a recipe with pumpkin and chocolate chips that I could try. I was so disappointed that you didn’t. I cannot wait to try these brownies! I’m doing a Fast today, so I have to wait til tomorrow. Just got back from the Bahamas and ate too much! Thank you for the tantalizing pictures of these brownies!

  46. By coincidence, I just came up with a GREAT recipe for pumpkin pie squares this weekend. You should totally try it out and tell me what you think,

    I find the chocolate/pumpkin combination, compelling but odd too. I feel like chocolate is way too overpowering for the pumpkin flavour to shine through (it already has trouble with all those spices to compete with). I solved that problem by using white chocolate instead – it’s creamy just like whipped cream, so it’s a perfect pairing.

  47. i have to jump on the bandwagon of a million commenters because these looked *so exciting* and i was so thrilled to be able to make them this past weekend and i was totally dismissive of the naysayers… but i shouldn’t have been.
    they were fine, good even, but not *amazing.* and as someone who loves the pumpkin/chocolate combination, this is a terrible admission.
    if i made them again, i’d skip the cayenne (sacrilege! cayenne and chocolate are so good together!) oddly, the cayenne was both overpowering and yet not quite present enough. but there are so many brilliant pumpkin recipes, i probably won’t make these again.
    *sniff. sigh.*

  48. Karyn

    These look great. I have been a fan of the chocolate/pumpkin combination for years. I think it was the pumpkin truffles at Godiva that first turned me on to it.
    I taught a fall dessert class at Williams-Sonoma a few years back and made pumpkin cream cheese brownies. You might like those better. Let me know if you want the recipe. Also to try: the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion. It’s really just pumpkin quick bread with chocolate chips added, but very good.
    I’m completely jealous, but I do hope you are having a grand time in Paris.

  49. Shelly

    I can’t wait to try these. I LOVE pumpkin and chocolate together. I often buy a box of pumpkin bread mix (Trader Joes as a good one) add a can of coconut milk and a bag of chocolate chips…mmmmm….pumpkin and chocolate are a perfect marriage!

  50. This may have been posted already, I didn’t read through. But Godiva has wonderful pumpkin truffles, finely dusted with cinnamon and sugar. I thought it would be really nasty, but have been so pleasantly surprised. I will never question the union of chocolate and pumpkin again.

  51. I never heard of chocolate and pumpkin together until this month. Where have I been? Right away I thought, oooh. Love brownies and am always willing to try a new recipe, looking for the one that I drop to my knees over. Perhaps this time.

  52. The pumpkin craze is hitting me hard. I would down these in a second. I think a cream cheese swirl would be an excellent idea. Or perhaps some peanut butter?! I’ve been experimenting a lot with peanut butter and pumpkin recently. They go very well together, they both complement each other with an earthy flavor.

  53. I just made these! I think they’re really good! I already loved the pumpkin/chocolate combo though. For some reason though, mine don’t look as dense as yours (I used an 8 inch square too & they took over an hour to bake through)- mine are more cakey – more of a pumpkin/chocolate cake than brownies. But still really good (if not great). I think the Cream cheese swirl would be awesome.

  54. trickie

    This is my first foray into the world of pumpkin cookery, wish me luck!

    Here in the UK we don’t really go in for pumpkin dishes, I don’t know why? I’m hoping my adventure into cooking these turns out well so I can take them to a friend, who used to live in the USA, and impress her with my brownie making skills!! I’ve just bought a smallish (think approximately party balloon size) pumpkin, assuming I have a small bit of the flesh remaining after the brownie allocation can anyone suggest what to make with this left-over bit?
    Thanks and happy baking!!

  55. Just made these last night, and I definitely think there might be a couple too many eggs in the recipe. It came out like cake. I only cooked it 40 mins and I probably could have taken it out earlier. It’s still ridiculouslyl delicious, just not very brownie-like.

  56. Beth

    I gave these a whirl last night! While I was VERY excited about them since I am a huge fan of pumpkin anything, I was rather surprised to find that I was kinda bewildered just like you said you were. I find that I’m not enjoying a pumpkin chocolate combo but instead a sweet pumpkin treat. So that is a little less than what I expected, but I still really like them!

  57. Melinda

    Well I gave these a try – I went easy on the sugar as Deb suggested and found that with the bittersweet chocolate they just didn’t seem sweet enough…and my chocolate part was dry not brownie-like. I’m def disappointed but I’m sure it was an “operator” error of some kind and not the recipe. I may try it again or go in search of some other pumpkin recipe.

  58. Michelle

    Hm, I had the exact same problem as Melinda. The pumpkin portion was delicious and the brownies were gorgeous, but the chocolate part was dry, too cakey, and chocolately-enough for my taste. Any suggestions from the folks that tried it and got it right? I’m thinking of making a completely separate batter for the chocolate part, maybe using the Baked brownie recipe…the pumpkin half was a keeper.

  59. jenny

    Made these last night.I feel like i did something wrong because my brownie part is much lighter than the picture. Not such a fan of them, honestly, they’re not sweet enough! Guess I shouldn’t have cut back on the sugar like you did in your recipe. Perhaps adding cream cheese frosting will help…..

  60. Cait

    I made these this weekend for a Halloween party and I was a little perplexed. The recipe says to add half the batter to the melted chocolate and mix the pumpkin with the cinnamon and nutmeg in a different bowl. It then says to alternate the chocolate with the pumpkin in the pan.
    Do I add the other half of the batter to the pumpkin? The recipe doesn’t say to do that, but then what’s the left over half of the batter for?Am I just not reading this correctly?

  61. deb

    Hi Cait — Once you have mixed the core batter, you pour half of it into a separate bowl (step 4) and stir the chocolate in. In the other/original bowl, you add the pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, etc. (step 5). You end up with two final batters that you alternate into your baking pan. Hope that helps.

  62. I’m with kelsi – the chocolate and pumpkin are fine together, but in my own experience (I made them a couple of weeks ago) the cayenne is the odd man out. Cayenne & chocolate may be well together, but cayenne and pumpkin didn’t work for me.

    (This is my first comment – I absolutely LOVE your blog!)

  63. You have been my flickr contact for a long time and I have loved your photography, but this is my first visit to your fabulous site — I have a pumpkin that is just screaming to be made into this! Thanks!

  64. Kel

    I tried these out yesterday, after just moving homes on Sat. Nothing like baking to make a new place feel like home.

    Anyway, I accidentally left out the 2nd cup of flour as I was rushing and realized it after I had already done the swirling (incidentally I couldn’t figure out what the fuss was about the dough being so thick and working quickly before it set). Anyway, I baked them anyway and they were delicious. Very moist and gooey. I recommend trying them this way as I did feel like both the pumpkin and brownie flavors came through. Next time I might do 1 1/4 c. flour. I think that would be perfect.

  65. I agree about the cream cheese swirl. I posted a recipe last year that I came up with that was brownie with pumpkin cheesecake swirled through and it was much tastier than when I tried just plain pumpkin brownies.

  66. Tonia

    I’m a baker (used to own a bakery) and have to say that making a brownie with a pumpkin cheesecake would be much better to my way of thinking — make it in a 10″ springform pan — fudgy brownie on bottom with smooth spicey pumpkin cheesecake on top served with warm chocolate carmel drizzled over top. Anyway that’s my take on the issue!

  67. Cheryl

    Made these last week for 2 events and they were a big hit! I agree with some readers who said they were better the next day. I followed your advice to cut down on the sugar and think that was a wise decision.

  68. shannon

    I made these over the weekend and had high expectations because they look amazing, but I was a little disappointed. I think with a few tweaks, though, these could indeed be amazing.

    I used slightly less sugar, as Deb suggested, and baked them in a 7 x 11 pan for about 50 minutes. The pumpkin part came out very moist and good, but the brownie part was too dry (maybe this is because I didn’t divide the batter part in half evenly? or it could be because I used about 1/4 cup more pumpkin than the recipe calls for?). If the brownie part was moister and fudgier it would be a better balance for the pumpkin part.

    I also left out the cayenne, but added ground clove instead. The flavors were good, just the texture & lack of moistness of the brownies that are lacking.

    BTW, I think these taste MUCH better if kept in the fridge, rather than at room temperature, but I like most of my chocolate cookies/brownies/cakes better cold…

  69. I tried these the other day and the pumpking/chocolate combination was perfectly tasty. No need to worry about that part; however, I did have trouble getting the two types of batter to swirl properly. Mine were sort of divided down the horizon — half pumpkin, half chocolate. I played it off that it was supposed to be that way and no one seemed to mind.

  70. OK… so I am a total idiot. I just made these and I was distracted while trying to put the two batters together and ended up putting the pumpkin ingredients into the chocolate half of the batter. I did not realize until I was pouring the batter into the baking dish that my one batter was not orange an pumpkin-y looking. Duh! I just swirled the living heck out of the two batters and I am hoping that they are still edible when they come out. Fortunately for me in this household anything baked and chocolate flies… even if you have to hold your nose or crack it with a sledgehammer to eat it. :)

  71. Vidya

    I made these at the end of last year, and I’d have to agree. They were good, but not excellent. Both the pumpkin and the chocolate batters were delicious, but I thought they would be better as separate desserts. On the upside, now I have a great base to work into a great brownie recipe and a great pumpkin bar recipe. I liked the chocolate brownie bit better than other recipes I’ve tried. It has less eggs per cup of flour and a good amount of chocolate. You can really taste the chocolate coming through, often with other brownies, the flavour is too diluted for my liking,

  72. SaraJ

    i beat the egg & sugar for about 4 minutes, which i believe is where the air for the too-cakey feeling comes from. mixing the eggs & sugar until just blended would probably give a more dense, chewey brownie feeling, whereas doing it for somewhere inbetween 0 min and 4 min is probably what i’ll shoot for next time. the proportions of the base batter should maybe be 2/3 for the chocolate and 1/3 for the pumpkin (in stead of half each)–i had the same problem as deb in having the chocolate part being too thick and the pumpkin part being too thin. which in part gave me layers without a marbling effect! =( a 9×13 inch pan may work better for cooking time/thickness. i was overall pleased with the flavors & found them balanced. i sprinkled hazelnuts on top before baking & served with haagen dazs dulce de leche ice cream & talk about some serious indulgence!

  73. Tracy

    I made these. i agree-the chocolate batter is much too thick. Maybe 2/3 for chocolate and 1/3 for pumpkin. Also, I kept simmering the chocolate mix, so when i added the hot choc to the batter, it went all grainy and weird. i thought i had probably ruined them but went ahead and baked them. i ran a knife through to swirl like i was cutting them and got a nice swirling effect despite the thick chocolate layer. I used an 8″ pan and i took 2 hours to bake! very tasty outcome..the hot chocolate did not ruin the chocolate layer. very fudgey and delicious.

  74. Leah

    I think pumpkin and chocolate go just fine. I always make chocolate chip pumpkin muffins and everyone gobbles them up. When I saw this recipe I immediately wanted to make it. Only one problem. I’m out of flour and chocolate and it’s pouring outside. I however have a box brownie mix. Anyone know how I would get the same outcome?

  75. Eileen

    Made these last night. I happen to love the combo! I stepped it up a notch as suggested, with a cream cheese swirl. So my 3rd bowl was about 1 c cream cheese, 1/4 c sugar, 3 Tbsp milk (to thin it for maximum swirling). I used a 9×13 and made 4 layers, brownie on bottom, then cream cheese, pumpkin, and more brownie on top. They turned out beautifully, I forget how long they baked. This is a wonderful recipe, I put half in the freezer to take out for Halloween :)

  76. I’m baking the stuff as we speak, unfortunately, I misread your instructions. As when I divided up the flour/egg batter, I added the chocolate into one half of the batter but didn’t end up adding the other half of the batter into the pumpkin mixture. I’m not sure exactly how the dessert is going to turn out… but I do have to admit that my chocolate mixture was ridiculously thick. You did suggest that I go ahead and add about 1-2 tbsp of the flour/egg batter, but that was really no help unfortunately.

    I hope that you end up re-doing this recipe, given that it’s Fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving is nearing. If I botched this recipe up, I hope that maybe you found a different way in creating this? It’s such a lovely combination, I can’t tear myself away and just give up on it.

  77. piba

    eileen – did you swirl them too or just layer them – I am wondering about how they looked and if swirling worked the way you had it layed out. thanks

  78. Skye

    I just made these and was sure I would love them but was a little disappointed. I put a little cream cheese on top and that added a nice tang to the mix. I am very excited about the chocolate/pumpkin combination though so I’m determined to experiment and make something work. Dark chocolate maybe? I was thinking about topping them with a chocolate ganache. Perhaps swirl in the cream cheese and then cover it all with chocolate ganache…

  79. I made these for a New Years party and I am afraid I am chiming in with only things that other people have said! They were neither pumpkin bars nor brownies and it wasn’t quite right. My problem, though, was that the pumpkin part was very good but the brownie part was a little bit gummy and not quite chocolatey enough. I’m not sure if that was my error or not.

  80. Jeanette

    I’m glad I”m not the only one who’s finally getting around to the Fall Baking List. Here’s my two cents: I’m renaming this whole recipe “Pumpkin Chocolate Marble Cake.” Totally not brownies, but still delish. Also I’m pretty sure that next time I’ll add the whole can of pumpkin and change up the proportion to 3/4 pumpkin batter and 1/4 chocolate batter. I’m a HUGE pumpkin fan and I thought the chocolate really overwhelmed it!

  81. Gina

    I made these brownies forever ago with some freshly pureed pumpkin (driving my boyfriend crazy with the blender), and though I thought they were pretty good, TWO of my non-cooking friends asked me for the recipe. And e-mailed me for it when I forgot to give it to them. Thanks for the tips, as always.

  82. Capricia Rae

    Mine ended up being pretty dry and not very chocolatey. Yours look so fudgey, I was hoping mine would end up the same! The pumpkin part was great, though. Just….lacking.

  83. wildbarries

    Pumpkin & chocolate are a strange duo, BUT pumpkin and white chocolate…it’s like they were made for each other! I would definitely try making some kind of white chocolate pumpkin brownies. Also, there are lots of very tasty-looking white chocolate pumpkin cheesecake recipes floating around. I’m dying to try some soon.

  84. ilona

    made these today with leftover pumpkin from thanksgiving. fantastic recipe! i would have never put pumpkin and chocolate together, but it’s a terrific combination in these brownies. thanks!

  85. Kelly

    A batch of these are in the oven right now. I don’t know how they taste yet, but they SMELL delicious! I love pumpkin and chocolate, separate or combined.

    I did make a couple of adjustments – I swapped the cayenne pepper for 1/8 tsp ginger, thinking that ginger goes better with both pumpkin AND chocolate. I also used 3/4 brown sugar and 3/4 granulated sugar.

    I can’t wait to try these…

  86. Nicole

    33 days until I get to make this for Thanksgiving! If the pumcolate experiment fails, I have you pumpkin cupcakes to rely on too. :)

  87. bee

    I made these this weekend and was a little nervous, but shouldn’t have been. They are truly marvelous. The flavours combined so well, and neither overpowered the other. I couldn’t find my nutmeg so I used a bit of clove and allspice (I know, hardly the same thing). I used an 8×8 pan because that’s all I had and baked for about 55 minutes, but that was too long. Don’t bake until a toothpick tests clean because that’ll make the brownies too dry. Keep them nice and moist!

  88. Ally

    I was so excited to make these. I love all things pumpkin, except pumpkin pie for some strange reason, and pumpkin and chocolate is even better. (My favorite cookies are pumpkin chocolate chip that my Grandma makes.) However I must say I was disappointed with the result. They weren’t bad, just not as amazing as I was expecting. It ended up more cake like than brownie. I think I would have liked them better if they were more fudgey.

  89. Colleen

    I hate to say this, but these were terrible. I could not get the layers to blend. They cooked at completely different rates, so the chocolate was way overcooked by the time that the pumpkin layer started to set. Everything else that I have made from this site I have at least liked, so maybe I made a mistake, but they got put in the trash.

  90. Nicole

    Just made these but I took the semi-homemade route: I used brownie mix and alternated with the pumpkin batter you used here. Perfect brownies, perfect pumpkin swirl. Happy thanksgiving!

  91. Eileen

    I made these today & they’re wonderful! I simplified the recipe a bit by making them in a 9×13 pan. I then spooned the batter out in a checkerboard pattern (alternating scoops of pumpkin & chocolate batter in a single layer). I then used the edge of a spatula to swirl them together — this is the classic marble brownie technique & much easier than layering. I cooked them for 35 minutes, checking them early to make sure they didn’t overcook. The result was delicious, moist, chocolate-pumpkin heaven, with the flavors separate enough to really enjoy them. It’s also easy – there’s no trouble swirling them when you do it this way. I loved the cayenne — it’s just a little mild heat that’s a lovely accent to the brownie.

  92. Shana

    These were very good — esp, as someone else mentioned, a couple days after baking. I did want more richness to the flavor, so I’ll be using more pumpkin spice when I cook these again, and maybe more chocolate (though, I may have used a bit too little chocolate). Note: I used pumpkin spice instead of cinnamon and nutmeg. I went and stocked up on cans of pumpkin (after the holidays, when they were on sale) so I could make these regularly!!

  93. Kim

    So…uh… Whatever happened to the pumpkin cream cheese swirl bars that were promised above? Inquiring, fall-planning minds want to know. :)

  94. Hayley

    These bars are definitely more cake like than a brownie. I was sadly disappointed! I typically love the chocolate/pumpkin combination, but here I just found myself wanting another texture…maybe add chocolate chips to give the bars a crunch? All in all I would not make them again.

  95. Annie

    Personally I’m not crazy about the chocolate pumpkin combo either. I’ve been dreaming up some sort of chewy pumpkin blondie idea for a while. Unfortunately, what plays out in my head and what comes out in practice have been 2 totally different things. My plan now rests on dehydrating some of the puree in to almost a paste…like tomato paste consistency. I think the water content in the pumpkin by itself is making all of my efforts more cakey and not fudgy-not the chocolate type! I’m hoping this will end up working out for some chewy-not-cakey cookies as well!

  96. i just made these last week and wasn’t too happy with the results either. I mean, there was nothing wrong with them but the flavors just didnt marry too well. oh well

  97. Natalie

    I made these and LIKED THEM. To be fair they were “special” for my Halloween party so maybe that flavor added to it? Not sure. I did have a problem though with mixing in the chocolate with the dry ingredients because it got weird and lumpy; I think maybe I should have waited for the chocolate to cool a little more, perhaps; it may have insta-baked chunks of the dry ingredients because it was too hot. Other than the texture issue (and thus they were layered and not swirled) I personally thought they turned out awesome. My friends were helping me because I had too many things to do and accidentally dumped in an extra 1/4 tsp of cinnamon but I think that made them better! Everyone complimented them at the party (and not just because they were special, lol)!

  98. Ally

    I just made these…while they were cooking the smell of chocolate and pumpkin was great…but they were are the dry side..i don’t know if maybe i cooked them to long..please help

  99. kasey

    I was disappointed, it was more like cake (a dry one at that) than a brownie. I wasted an organic pie pumpkin on this recipe. I normally love SK recipes but this one was a dud.

  100. Charlotte

    Just made these and they came out perfectly! The chocolate/pumpkin combination is delicious, and they look beautiful. Mine were done before 40 minutes (I also used a rectangular pan), so you might want to keep a close eye on them to avoid burning and/or drying out.

  101. Bre

    I just made these bars for some weekend baking-practice and found them to be wonderful. The brownie was tender and rich, the pumpkin mild-tasting but satisfyingly dense. I have never combined pumpkin and chocolate, being fairly new to baking, and will most certainly be making these again.

  102. Sasquatch

    I am definitely one of those pumpkin and chocolate people. I like making pumpkin bread with chocolate chips in it. This is on my to-do list for the fall.

  103. juanita

    In order to love this try not adding melted chocolate to the batter.
    Make a pumpkin batter and add chocolate chips instead…forget the marble effect…Martha is one for looks but not always perfect for taste.

  104. Mandy

    Oops. I just made these but w/o checking the comments like normal. I used only 3/4 c. of sugar. I used semi-sweet chocolate instead, though, because I didn’t have bittersweet. I’ll let you know how they turn out. My kids are used to me only using half the sugar called for in recipes, though, so I’m guessing they won’t even notice. :-)

  105. Mandy

    Reporting back on the mistake of using 3/4 c. sugar. We all thought they were sweet enough. I felt the texture was affected by the missing sugar, so not sure how that would be remedied. Also, perhaps b/c of the missing sugar, I felt the baking powder taste was prominent in bites with more pumpkin than chocolate.

  106. Justen

    Hi – I made this just last night and I must not have done something right. After baking, the chocolate layer is kinda dry and crumbly, while the pumpkin layer is very thick, almost bread-like. I thought I followed the instructions pretty well, but when mixing I mixed in my melted chocolate and butter into the batter, the chocolate batter looked lumpy – more mixing didnt make it better, still lumpy and hard to spread. Do you have any clue what I did wrong? :)


  107. Melissa

    I just made these because I wanted something pumpkin and my husband wanted brownies (as usual). We both like the combination in other instances, but I don’t know how I felt about them here. If mine turned out the way yours LOOK, than perhaps I would like them more. However, mine rose significantly and ended up tasting much more cakey than brownie-ey. So I am not thrilled because I want brownies, not cake. I am guessing it is because I used the whisk attachment on my kitchenaid (my toddler may have…errghh..misplace the paddle). Anyways, my plan is to eat it with coffee and call it coffeecake.Good excuse to eat sugar in the morning, you know.

  108. Melissa

    Made these yesterday. Everything turned out ok, but I was disappointed in the pumpkin flavor. It was bland – to the point where someone unfamiliar with the contents of the recipe might not know what flavor the orange part was. I will try next time adding unmelted chips to the batter (and seriously dialing up the pumpkin). I agree with other posters too – this was more cake than brownie. I’ll try a bigger pan and see if i can get a better chew from that.

  109. Lisa

    We made these today. I used more pumpkin (really I used kobocha squash) batter than chocolate and they turned out AMAZING! Thank you for the idea!

  110. scott

    I rarely make someone else’s recipe, I develop my own. But made these today, they are more like a cake. Nothing wrong with that at all. Still yummy. I do love your website :)

  111. Sofia

    Made these for some friends as a special fall treat. So delicious! What could be better than combining 2 of my favorite flavors? I personally would recommend using the larger 1.5 cup portion of sugar to get the right taste. Also, I think these brownies taste even better the next day after they have sat, really enhances the flavors.

  112. Made these last night – they came out fantastic. I may have ‘overmarbled’ as they look more chocolately, but the flavor and moistness scream ‘pumpkin’. It’s a winner – thank you!

  113. Carrie Anne

    Every year, beginning at age 5, my grandma – then my mother when grandma passed – baked a pumpkin chocolate chip bundt cake to celebrate my birthday. No frosting, dusting or other ornaments save candles. I never wanted any other kind. This recipe looks very similar to that cake – autumn spices, loads of sugar and fat; just loads of everything. If it doesn’t have a proper brownie texture, try pouring the batter into a bundt pan, bake slow and long. Add the chocolate as chocolate chips, not as a batter. Replace some of the granulated sugar with brown sugar. Top it with a cream cheese glaze.

  114. MR in NJ

    Maida Heatter uses pumpkin (scant 2 cups–a lot) to create moisture (similar to the use of applesauce) in a wonderful chocolate (3-qt.) Bundt cake. You can’t see the pumpkin but it adds wonderful flavor without overwhelming the chocolate, which is the main event. Everyone I have served it to has loved it. Slices and freezes well, too.

    To post it here, I found the recipe online…

    …but if you enjoy making chocolate desserts, you might look for a copy. Available in paperback. Her recipes are flawless.

    Chocolate Pumpkin Cake from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts (Random House, 1995)

    Hmm…I may make this today!

  115. Eliza

    Yum! Not very brownie-ish, kind of like banana bread. The chocolate flavor is not very strong. I used my own roasted pumpkin and subbed in some whole wheat flour. I would make these again. The kids liked them.

  116. Jeannie

    I made these today and I see this is an old post, they are delicious-I love the cayenne. In following the recipe I kept looking for where you said to mix the pumpkin in with the other half of the batter, maybe it’s just supposed to be obvious?
    I used whole wheat pastry flour and it worked well.
    I think pumpkin and chocolate are very nice together and the flavors are separate enough to make them interesting. I just assume that anything on your site is going to be good! I’ve not been disappointed yet.

  117. Mandy

    Made these again recently for a preschool Thanksgiving potluck. The last time, I misread the instructions and only used 3/4 c. sugar and I didn’t make that mistake again. This time I used 1 1/2 c. sugar; also subbed coconut oil for veg oil, and allspice for nutmeg (not a fan). I only had an 8×8 or 11×7 pan, so I used the 11×7 but wasn’t crazy about the whole layered look and how thick they were. Next time I am going to try doing 9×13–one layer of brownie and then dolloping the pumpkin over it, and then swirling it. Then I think it will make the marbled look I was going for. Otherwise, they were great, of course!

  118. Stephanie

    I have a pan of these in the oven, but they’re some sort of monstrous reconstruction of what they’re supposed to be. I agree with Jeanne (11/2013.) We need an instruction saying to mix the pumpkin with half of the original batter so that you end up with a chocolately batter and a pumpkiny batter. I, too, kept reading the instructions, so it wasn’t obvious to me. In the oven, I have chocolate batter– just made all the batter chocolate because I didn’t know what to do with the other half– layered and swirled with the pumpkin/ oil/ spice mixture. It’s going to be sucky (insert sad emoticon.)

  119. Echo

    I just made these but haven’t tatted them yet. I doubled the recipe because I want to bring them to work so I hope there good! One thinking though it says to bake for 40 to 45 mins well mine were well and truly done after 30.

  120. Echo

    People at work liked them, me not so much. More cake than brownie and a lot of faff for nothing that spectacular. Everything else I have made from here and your book has been fantastic though!

  121. Paola

    These look beautiful, but I agree that they’re not my favorite. Some of my friends liked them, but the general consensus was that these were ok or good, not great.
    I love a gooey, fudgey brownie, so these being more cakey, were not really for me. I’m thinking that maybe adding chocolate chips would give it that gooey chocolatey-ness that I love.

  122. Amrita

    Hi Deb, I have semisweet chocolate…would that work instead of the bittersweet variety…in that case, should I cut down on the sugar? Thanks!

  123. maryam

    hi Deb, lovely recipe. I want to make these today, however, I don’t have an electric mixer. Could I mix the sugar eggs and vanilla by hand – as long as they are mixed thoroughly? I do also have a mini blender that may also suffice?

  124. Gwen

    I made these last night and it was pretty disappointing. I did use an all natural flour but the batter was way too dry and the resulting brownie was just kind of blah and not very good. Like other commenters said – they were dry, not too chocolately and not to pumpkiny. Mine also looked nothing like the photo (which looks divine). I have to slap my self though because obviously with only 1 stick of butter they are going to be a little sad. Ugh bummer. Now maybe I can get my roommates to eat them or my boyfriend to take them to work…..

  125. Long-time reader, first time commenter. So…howdy!

    I made these for Thanksgiving this week, although I swapped out the milk chocolate for white. They turned out pretty awesome, and both flavors came through evenly.

  126. Monika

    I replaced the 1 1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar with 3/4 cup coconut sugar and 1/4 cup maple syrup and it was perfection. I also tried a version with cacao instead of chocolate but the chocolate version was the winner. The batter itself… *drool*

  127. Mandy

    This is a solid recipe I have made many times (when I read it correctly! The first time I made them I misunderstood how much sugar to use–oops!). I have successfully made this gluten-free and dairy-free (using coconut oil and palm shortening).

  128. Liz

    I’m one of those people who never met a pumpkin/chocolate combo that I didn’t like, and made this with some tweaks to great satisfaction. I used a 9×13 dish and added a light sprinkling of mini dark chocolate chips right before popping the dish in the oven, which I think helped to amp up the chocolate a bit more. I also changed the spice blend in the pumpkin batter to 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, and 1/4 tsp nutmeg. The thing I like best about pumpkin baked goods is the spice blend, so this really worked for me.

  129. Christina

    I have made this and forgot the oil in the pumpkin. Don’t do that; it is necessary so that the pumpkin and chocolate mixture bake at the same speed. Otherwise, you’ll get chewy pumpkin mixture and extra gooey chocolate… Oops. What did taste good was the splash of ginger powder into the pumpkin mix.

  130. Jessica

    I made these exactly as prescribed and they were delicious!!!
    The cayenne adds a little mystery kick to the brownie, which is perfect.

  131. Melissa

    I made this and have to agree with the comments that this is like two different brownies that don’t meld. I would much prefer all pumpkin with chocolate chips—although I’m not sure how to adapt the recipe to be just pumpkin. The chocolate was also too dry, although it did have a rich chocolate flavor.

    I think it’s so interesting that many people are unfamiliar with pumpkin and chocolate together. I love pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and had them growing up. Is this a western states thing? I had no idea pumpkin chocolate chip cookies were rare in other parts of the country.

  132. Laura

    Hi Deb,

    I really want to make these for Thanksgiving but the comments are giving me pause…I love the pumpkin and chocolate combo but want to make sure these are fudgey / not cakey. Any tips? I noticed your other brownie recipes have less flour – can I cut that back but leave all else unchanged?


  133. Bridget

    Normally, your recipes are a slam dunk–this one didn’t turn out for me. I couldnt get the swirl to happen as the batter with chocolate was way too thick and it ended up all being blended. Any thoughts?

  134. Allie

    On the hunt for a fall-themed chocolate dessert, I came across this recipe and made it today. Overall, I have to say I was somewhat disappointed. It was pretty high in the effort (lots of different mixing bowls) and the result was neither a perfect pumpkin bar nor a perfect brownie. I think better to go all in with one or the other. The pumpkin component ends up pretty caked and the brownie component is more of a dense, traditional brownie, so the textural combination is a little strange. Flavor wise it was definitely tasty and visually it’s a stunner.