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It’s the season for pumpkin related things right?  Actually, the season for pumpkin spice everything began awhile ago.  I just haven’t had lots of people clamoring for pumpkin related things this year so I haven’t made any.  But anyway, I saw a recipe for these brownies awhile ago and I decided to give them a try as a Friday night activity.

The brownies made as-is aren’t bad at all.  They had a nice chocolate flavor with a hint of pumpkin and spice.  I would have preferred more pumpkin and spice and highlighted the pumpkinness of the brownies…because they’re not your normal brownie.

In the end, I did change up the recipe because 1) I didn’t want to make a 9×13 pan of brownies every time, 2) I think the pumpkin:brownie ratio could have been bigger, 3) I normally have semi-sweet chocolate on hand but not bittersweet, and 4) I almost never have all spice.

Here’s my adaptation:

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • 0.75 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg
  • 1.5 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
  • 0.25 tsp salt
  • 2.125 oz all purpose flour
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 0.75 cup pumpkin purée (it’s about half a can if using canned)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 0.5 tsp ground cloves
  • 0.5 tsp ground nutmeg

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 350deg F.
  2. Prep 7×11 pan. Spray, butter, oil, flour, parchment, whatever.
  3. In a large bowl, combine melted butter and chocolate chips.  Stir until smooth.
  4. Add 0.5 cup sugar, 2 eggs, vanilla.  Stir until combined.
  5. Sift in baking powder, cocoa powder, flour, and salt.  Stir until combined.
  6. In a separate bowl, combine cream cheese, pumpkin, 1 egg, 1 tbsp sugar.  Stir until incorporated.
  7. Sift in cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.  Stir until combined.
  8. Pour about 0.75 of the brownie batter into the baking dish and spread evenly.
  9. Pour the pumpkin mixture on top of the brownie batter and spread evenly.
  10. Drop spoonfuls of the remaining brownie batter on top of the pumpkin mixture and swirl through the batters with a knife.
  11. Bake for about 50 min or until a toothpick inserted into the center just comes out clean.

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Notes:

  • Use whatever spices you like with your pumpkin.  I’m always a fan of cinnamon.  You could use a pumpkin pie spice mix too if you wanted.
  • Double the recipe to make a 9×13 pan of brownies.
  • I would probably also add chopped walnuts if allergies were not a concern.

I’ve been thinking about pound cake a lot.  I don’t really know why I started to think about pound cake.  But as I was considering pound cake, it made me think of some of my first experiences with pound cake, namely Entemann’s pound cake (which is apparently called an “all butter loaf cake”), which is still the pound cake I think of in taste and texture when I think of pound cake.  None of that Sara Lee stuff.

I am going to continue to say pound cake.

Anyway, I remember asking my mother why pound cake was called “pound cake.”  I was confused because I thought maybe the cake itself was supposed to weigh a pound and it didn’t.  She told me it was because there was supposed to be a pound each of all the ingredients that went into a cake.  Oh.  Makes sense.

But then I looked at the ingredient list for commercially prepared pound cake.

Aside: You know what?  I think Entemann’s pound cake used to be called pound cake and they changed it to all butter loaf cake later because it isn’t really pound cake anymore as they don’t follow the pound of everything recipe. /end

Commercially prepared pound cake has an awful lot of stuff in it.  Just like most commercially prepared foods.  It’s one of the joys of living in an industrialized nation and industrializing our food manufacture.  But as a child, I did not know that.  I just thought that it didn’t make any sense to have a pound each of everything in the ingredient list.  No way is there a pound of salt with the pound of sugar.  The cake isn’t salty.  Something is wrong.

Well yes.  Something is wrong.  Because commercially prepared pound cake, and most cakes we consider pound cakes today, are derivatives of the original recipe.  The original recipes (as I could find them) state that there should be a pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour all mixed and then baked in a slow oven (300-325deg F) for about an hour.  But that results in a heavyish cake.  There’s no leavening.  Or other flavoring besides your butter and sugar.  So people started adding stuff.  A lot of old recipes I saw added brandy or whiskey.  I see that various citrus rinds are used a lot for flavoring too.  And of course lots of bakers added baking powder so that the cake wouldn’t be so dense.

But I want to know what a real pound cake tastes like.  The original pound cake.  And since you cannot buy these things, I made one myself.  Or rather, I made six.  Mini ones.  And I had halved the recipe because I didn’t want that much cake.  So it was more of a half-pound cake.

Anyway.

I creamed the butter and sugar.  Then I added the eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated.  Incidentally, a half-pound of eggs is about four extra large eggs.  And then I added the flour in two installments, mixing until just incorporated.  The resulting batter is quite thick.  I portioned the batter out into my mini loaf tins and threw them into the oven preheated to 325deg F for 50min.

WP_20141118_16_07_45_ProThe batter was REALLY thick.  You can see how difficult it was for the bubbles to escape.  I probably should have shaken the pan a bit before baking to release the air bubbles.

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The tiniest pound cake!

In terms of taste and texture, it’s kind of like a really soft shortbread cookie, which makes sense since the ingredients are pretty much the ingredients for a shortbread cookie.  The cake doesn’t have much rise to it, which also makes sense since there’s no leavening.  I kind of like the mini loaf because it means the outside edges are nice and crisp (from all that butter) but the inside is nice and soft.

I think I prefer Entemann’s still.  Next time, I’ll probably add some baking powder, vanilla extract, maybe some brandy because that sounds kind of good, lemon rind?, and a dash of salt.