I never quite do pumpkin season right. Pumpkin spice time, sure. It's easy to slip a cinnamon or nutmeg element into everything from baked goods to morning oatmeal this time of year. But how many pies can a person really bake? How much pumpkin bread does anybody — especially someone who's not much of a quick breads person to begin with — really want? I tend to fare better with pumpkin's savory side, embracing it in my ravioli and favorite fall pizza.
But after the longest, hottest summer in imagination, I've been itching to go as all out on coziness as possible, down to my desserts. And that's necessitated finding some new uses for those omnipresent orange cans at my supermarket — all while staying true to my default mode of trying to expend as little effort as possible in the kitchen.
As I often do, I turned first for inspiration to Inspired Taste's brilliant and endlessly adaptable blondies recipe. It's a weeknight workhorse that bakes up a perfect portion of treats in a little over a half hour from start to finish. As a bonus, it's got just one egg, one stick of butter, one kind of sugar and no baking powder or baking soda, so it bakes up more densely than your typical blondie — exactly what I wanted from something with the elevating element of pumpkin going for it. I then just cross checked it against Two Peas in Their Pod's pumpkin blondies, to arrive at something pillowy but not too cakey, just right that after school time of day, or the unpretentious finale of a comforting dinner.
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While these are perfect exactly as is, you could add some pecans or a shake of pumpkin pie spice here to push the sweater weather effect even further. Personally, I have been eyeing the jar of caramel in my cupboard and getting ideas. And of course, a squirt of whipped cream is never a bad idea.
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Luscious chocolate pumpkin blondies Yields 9 - 12 servings Prep Time 10 minutes Baking Time 25 minutes
8 tablespoons (1 stick) of butter
1 cup of lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 large room-temperature egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup of pureed pumpkin
1 cup of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup of dark chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease an 8 x 8-inch baking pan and line it with parchment paper.
In a small pan, melt the butter, or if you prefer, go a few minutes longer and brown your butter.
In a medium bowl, add the brown sugar and stir in the butter. Stir in the pumpkin, egg, vanilla and salt.
Stir in the flour until just mixed and not lumpy. Stir in half the chips.
Pour into your pan and smooth out so the batter reaches the corners. Sprinkle the other half of the chips on top. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes, until the edges pull back a little from the pan and the center looks a little underbaked but not wet.
Cool to room temperature and enjoy.
Mixed with your favorite milk, a little cinnamon and frozen banana, the leftover pumpkin makes great smoothies.
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