I know, right? Pumpkin, cream cheese, and fall spices swirled into a moist, chocolatey brownie. Pumpkin cheesecake swirl. Oh, yes.
The brownie base is actually my new favorite brownie recipe. It’s a little less fudge-like than I’d normally go for but it’s still on the dense-and-fudgey end of the spectrum. It gets its deep, chocolatey flavors from both chocolate and cocoa powder – use dutch-process or a natural-dutch blend (like Special Dark) if you can find it.
They’re pretty indulgent so I tried to lighten it up just a tad by reducing the sugar, using reduced-fat cream cheese, and the Smart Balance “buttery sticks,” which are a butter-spread hybrid. I actually use those a lot for baking and I think they work great.
That brownie, by the way, was from batch #3. It took three tries – that’s 48 brownies! – to get it just right. The right amount of pumpkin for the cheesecake mixture. The right swirling technique. The right amount of pumpkin pie spices. I’m not whining, I’ve had far less delicious failures for sure. And most of the “just okay” brownies from the other two batches are individually wrapped in the freezer. They’ll do just fine when an emergency chocolate craving hits 🙂
Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies
Moist, rich brownies swirled with a pumpkin spiced cheesecake.
- 8 Tbsp butter
- 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup + 2 Tbsp flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder (Special Dark and dutch-process make a darker brownie but unsweetened/natural works fine)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 oz reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temp
- 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp ground all spice
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch pan with baking spray.
- In a large microwave safe bowl, melt butter and chocolate together, stirring between 30-second cooking intervals. Whisk until completely smooth.
- Whisk in 1 cup sugar and then add 3 of the eggs, one at a time, whisking between each addition.
- Whisk in the dry ingredients: 1 cup flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
- Transfer batter to the greased pan and spread the batter evenly.
- In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese and 2 Tbsp sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the canned pumpkin and beat until thoroughly combined. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
- Add the 2 Tbsp flour and ground spices (alternately, you can use 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice in place of the 5 ground spices).
- Using a spoon or rubber spatula, create wells in the top of the brownie batter. Spoon the pumpkin cheesecake mixture into the wells. Use the tip of a knife to swirl the chocolate and pumpkin together. (The two batters have different consistency so use a swirl-and-fold motion to bring the chocolate swirl to the top.)
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 40-50 minutes. Cool in pan for 30 minutes before cutting into 16 squares and serving.
- Leftovers will keep in a covered cake plate for 3-4 days. They can also be wrapped and frozen.
Yields: 16 servings
Estimated time: 1 hour 15 minutes