Pumpkin Pie While Cutting Calories and Saving Time

I don’t know why I haven’t figured this out before, but it’s really going to be a life saver for me this year.

Every fall a bunch of cooking magazines come out with articles that boast new ideas for pumpkin pie. I get pretty excited about this because I love pumpkin pie, but then I also feel torn because what if I make it for the holidays and it’s not that good? Then I have bad pie plus no traditional pumpkin pie. And there’s just no way I have time to make full pies with crust before the holidays in addition to making the real thing.

Well, why don’t we eliminate the crust. It’s the most time consuming part and can also be the most variable. The pie filling is really the thing we want to test anyway.

If you have Corningware, and I really hope you do, you can combine all your ingredients, refrigerate it overnight if you don’t have time to bake it then and then the next day put the dish in the oven to bake. You can even serve it in Corningware.


Baking it in a dish instead of crust allows you to try more recipes faster so that you can plan ahead. It’s also a spectacular way to cut out calories. Pumpkin pie filling doesn’t have to be ridiculously fattening, but good crust usually does –

TheCalorieCounter.com lists one slice of crust only that has been prepared from a recipe contains 121 calories and 8 grams of fat. A whole 9″ pie crust contains about 949 calories and 62 grams of fat.


Enjoy more pumpkin pie filling varieties, save your favorite pair of pants!

I thought today’s recipe would be pretty sweet since it uses sweetened condensed milk instead of evaporated milk, however it really wasn’t that sweet. It is spicy, however. If you can’t get enough of pumpkin pie spice, then you’ll definitely enjoy this variety.

Magic Pumpkin Pie
adapted from The Pumpkin Lovers Cook Book

1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
1 12 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk, not evaporated
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of cloves

Blend ingredients together and pour into large Corningware dish. Bake at 375F for 45-50 minutes or until cooked. Cool and refrigerate before serving.

New Ideas for Pumpkin Desserts!

Thanks to Jen for sending me these creative pumpkin recipes from Better Homes and Gardens. I’d like to try all of them, but here are some that looked best to me:

Pumpkin-Filled Cream Puffs with Maple-Caramel Sauce,
Pumpkin Sandwich Cake,
Spiced Pumpkin Dunking Sticks,
Pumpkin-Cherry Upside-Down Cake,
Pumpkin Fudge,
Pumpkin Pie Drops,
Pumpkin Tiramisu,
No-Bake Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake,
Pumpkin Bourbon Pudding,
Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Toffee Sauce,
Pumpkin Spice Whoopies

Day 1 of Halloween Week – Happy Anniversary & Spicy Toasted Seeds!

It’s an exciting week at DinnerCakes! We’ll be doing a Halloween theme this week with some fun and festive ideas. Also, yesterday was DC’s 1 Year Anniversary!

It’s hard to believe it’s been one full year of adventures in the kitchen (we’ve had great success and some real flops!). We’ve tried to broaden our horizons.. I work a little harder to add veggies to my dinners (see Pineapple Mango Chicken Curry, Ravioli with Asparagus, Spinach and Peas and Taco Salad with Drunken Black Beans). Edwin learned that he can go on vacation, eat things that would make Ronald McDonald blush and still call himself a flexitarian when he gets home (see Greetings From The West – Day 1, Travel Day 2 – A Little Mexican, A Little Hype and Food Photography – Ribs and Cactus Fries). 🙂


We also completely overhauled our site design and banner, and added several new features such as Our Favorites, an archive of our Kitchen Tips and Food Photography and an About Us page. Hopefully the quality of our photos will also continue to improve (I got a new camera after a few months of blogging and man, it’s hard to look at some of those early photos with the point-and-click camera!).

Have I gotten Edwin to enjoy pumpkin yet? No, but he does seem a little more open to the idea of trying some things? Do we have a perfectly seamless recipe archive yet? No, but I can tell you that it’s in the works!

Clearly the upcoming year will hold new adventures and new challenges. What kinds of everyday recipes will I come up with to make my clinical rotations in the hospital a little easier? I’ve received a lot of requests for crock pot dinners, so you can probably look forward to more of that here. Will Edwin learn to embrace healthy and lean meats like fish? Just how many cookies will both of us eat at this year’s Third Annual Bake-A-Thon (and how disgusting will we feel afterwards…)? Only one way to find out!

But back to Halloween Week –

Probably a lot of you will be carving your pumpkins soon (and following our tips to make your Jack-o’-Lanterns last!). Don’t just throw away all that goo inside – you can make some tasty and healthy treats that are actually fun to eat. Pumpkin seeds contain both of the “good” fats – omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They’re a great source of iron, too.

roasted seeds

Spicy Toasted Pumpkin or Acorn Squash Seeds
adapted from Simply Recipes

1 small/medium pumpkin
salt, chili powder, cayenne

After carving and scooping out the insides of your pumpkin, preheat your oven to 400F. Separate the seeds from the pulp (be careful if you have contact dermatitis with squash like I do!) and rinse.

While oven preheats, boil seeds from one small/medium pumpkin in 2 cups of water with a dash of salt. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then drain.

Line cookie sheet with foil and brush with oil. Add the drained seeds to a small bowl and season with desired amounts of salt, chili powder, cayenne (easy on the cayenne, heavier on the chili powder) and a drop of oil. Stir until combined. Spread over the cookie sheet in one layer and bake for 12-15 minutes. Be sure not to overcook (they’ll start to get pretty dark if overcooking). Cool before serving.

I like to eat mine whole, but some people prefer to remove the outer shell.
This recipe will also work well with acorn squash seeds (that’s actually what I used in these photos).
Enjoy Pumpkin Seeds plain, in salads, added to granola or in breads! For some fancy spice combos, check out 101 Cookbooks.

Pumpkin Pie Without the Pie Dough

I told Morgan on Saturday night that it was pumpkin time, and there was nothing he could do about it.

We went to dinner and a play, and afterward we went by Harris Teeter. I’ve had a beef with Harris Teeter for a long time; we used to live next to one when we were in the DC area. For three years I would walk in to the store around this time of year with pumpkin on my mind… just a regular 15 oz can of Libby’s pumpkin. You would think that at the end of September and throughout October and November that pumpkin would be a grocery store staple… but you would be wrong.


Last year when this had happened for the third time in a row, I finally did something I never do and wrote a fussy letter to customer service. They apologized and said they had it now, but when I went back in that day there was none to be found and no one knew why. I can’t believe I was so stupid as to go back to a Harris Teeter this year, even if it was in a completely different city. Sure enough they had no Libby’s canned pumpkin. A helpful employee did take me to some organic canned pumpkin which, while $2-3 more expensive, at least they had something.

pumpkin pie bar

So I pulled out a recipe I made last year from Joy the Baker – Butterscotch Pumpkin Pie Bars.  I thought I would love these bars when I made them last year, but I realized that I don’t much care for butterscotch, and I just wasn’t feeling the pumpkin and butterscotch combination especially.

I found the original recipe that Joy modeled hers off of – Pumpkin Pie Bars from Kraft Foods. I used non-fat cream cheese (I really don’t think you can taste the difference because there are so many other delicious things going on) and took out the pecan topping because I’m a pumpkin purist. I also took out a little bit of the granulated sugar – I love the granola bottom but I don’t think it needs to be quite so sweet. The result was a crunchy granola bottom, with pumpkin pie-like filling and topped with more granola.  Pumpkin pie without dealing with pie dough.  Please make this, and please send me some. 🙂


Granola Pumpkin Pie Bars
adapted from Kraft Foods

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1 cup old-fashioned oats, uncooked
1 package (8 oz.) non-fat cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and allspice.
dash of cloves

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with foil (leaving some extra hanging out that can act as handles) and grease the lining.

Combine flour, brown sugar and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar in a medium bowl. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or two knives until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in oats. Reserve 1 cup of this mixture and set aside; press the remaining into the bottom of the lined pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes (my oven runs a little hot I think, so I did it for 12).

Beat softened cream cheese, remaining granulated sugar, eggs, pumpkin and spices in a small bowl with an electric mixer (or in a stand mixer) on medium speed until well blended. Pour over crust and sprinkle with the reserved crumb mixture.

Bake for 25 minutes. Carefully lift from the pan using foil handles and cool completely. Cut into approximately 24 bars to serve.

Creamy and Sweet Pumpkin Pie Rice Pudding

A few weeks ago Joy the Baker posted a great looking rice pudding recipe that planted a seed in my head. I love rice pudding, particularly Kozy Shack brand, and I couldn’t believe that I’d never tried to make it before on my own.

cooking rice pudding

But the pudding can scorch so easily. It’s a delicate balance of stirring continuously while keeping the heat low. It was relaxing and fun, though. And in testing different ingredients and styles I was able to use my favorite ingredient.

You know what I’m talking about…


pumpkin rice pudding

It’s like creamy pumpkin pie, or a pumpkin spice frappuccino – just a hint of pumpkin and a lot of sweet cinnamon and cold milk.

Next time I make this I might add more pumpkin (you know me) and milk to make it even creamier, but right now I’m just enjoying each bite of this sweet little treat (well, what’s left of it)!

pumpkin rice pudding2

Pumpkin Pie Rice Pudding

1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup long grain rice
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup Libby’s canned pure pumpkin
dash of cloves
dash of nutmeg

Cook rice in rice cooker or according to package instructions. Once rice is cooked, set aside. Add milk, sugar and salt to a medium pot. Bring to a low boil, stirring continuously so you don’t scorch the milk. Add the cooked rice and pumpkin and keep stirring! Add cinnamon and dash of cloves nutmeg. Keep stirring until the milk cooks down and the rice plumps, about 10 minutes. Make sure the heat stays low and that you don’t stop stirring.

Remove the pot from the stove and pour pudding into Corningware or medium-sized bowl. Make sure you put an oven mitt or trivet underneath the bowl and set it in the fridge. Chill in refrigerator and serve cold.

Note – During one of my prior attempts I used skim milk instead of whole and it the texture wasn’t quite the same. I’d refrain from switching to skim on this one.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Bites, My Favorite Christmas Cookie

Well, my co-contributor Chef Edwin is going to smack his forehead when he sees this post, but I can’t let that stand in my way, right? I’m still stuck on Christmas, and I have the leftover Christmas cookies and constantly expanding waistline to prove it!

pumpkin oatmeal bites stirring in oats

It seemed to me like more people than ever were baking for Christmas this year, and I had no qualms about sampling everything that came my way. From leftover Bake-A-Thon 2008 treats, to sweet, melt-in-your-mouth Baklava from a friend at my mom’s office, to moist spice cake from a new significant other on my husband’s side of the family… my Christmas holiday consisted of enjoying delectable new desserts. Thank you, everyone!

pumpkin oatmeal bites stirring in chips

I’d like to share with you a recipe that I brought to Bake-A-Thon 2008 this year, but I also made it again on Christmas Eve with my mom. It has been a favorite of mine for years. My mom originally found it in a Better Homes cookbook; I have adapted it to include more pumpkin and more chocolate chips which I think makes them even more moist.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Bites

Readers, I know you may be tempted to think that I’d love any recipe that includes pumpkin, regardless of how it tastes – and I can see why you would think that based on my history here. But truly, this recipe has everything you could want:

1)You only need two bowls to make these cookies.
2) You do not need any fancy tools, appliances or decorating devices.
3) They’re not overly sweet.
4) Because of the pumpkin, they stay incredibly moist after several days. They’re also great for mailing (which I tested this year).
5) If you use high quality chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli), the chocolate adds a perfect amount of sweetness.
6) It makes 120 cookies. 120! Let’s face it, when you’re baking Christmas cookies you’re probably looking to make more than one dozen.
7) They contain 3 cups of oats and pumpkin is a super food, so you can pretend that you’re eating healthy.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Bites and Morgan

This is the last time I’ll say it for the rest of the year, I promise – give pumpkin a chance!

Edwin and I would love to know what kinds of Christmas cookies you baked this year, and which ones were well received. Please share your favorites with us!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Bites

Pumpkin Oatmeal Bites
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, Cookies for Christmas (1985)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large bowl with a mixer beat butter until softened. Beat in brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, then pumpkin.

Add flour mixture and beat until combined. Stir in oats and chocolate chips (use a thick, sturdy spoon. I’ve broken flimsy wooden spoons while stirring in all the oats before!).

Use a teaspoon measure to scoop onto parchment-lined cookie sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool for 1-2 minutes, then move to a wire rack. Cookies will cool quickly. Makes about 120.

My Six Pie Party, a Thanksgiving Day Wrap-Up

I hope that you enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday! Mine went well, and you can be sure that after enjoying three full Thanksgiving dinners, I will not be stepping on a scale anytime soon.

Granny Smith for Apple Crumble Top PieApple Filling

I also hope to focus more on the dinner side of DINNERCAKES after my baking blitz on Wednesday resulted in 6 pies and 3 loaves. Yes, I am a crazy person.

Pie Dough

But, I learned some very important lessons about baking:

  1. If you’re planning on baking 6 pies, invest in more than one pie dish. The pie tins at the grocery store just don’t cut it, it’s still flimsy even after you double up with two tins per pie and it increases your cook time. Next time I will enlist the help of some reasonably priced Pyrex pie dishes.
  2. Making pie dough from scratch doesn’t have to be a harrowing experience. I used Martha Stewart’s Pate Brisee recipe, refrigerated the dough overnight, let it sit out for 10 minutes before working with it, and then just rolled it out to make crust.
  3. If 4 out of your 6 pies require graham cracker crust, just buy a box of graham cracker crumbs instead of using a meat tenderizer to demolish whole crackers. This saves time and sanity.
  4. Any marks left in your pumpkin pie after inserting a knife to make sure it’s fully cooked can be easily disguised with a leaf or heart shape made using extra dough.
  5. Do not open a bottle of champagne until you’re done.

Bittersweet Chocolate for Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

My pie extravaganza included: Heavenly Pie from 101 Cookbooks, Triple-Chocolate Pumpkin Pie from Martha Stewart, Crunch Top Apple Pie from Paula Deen, my favorite Classic Pumpkin Pie from Libby’s, and two Million Dollar Pies adapted from Cooks.com.

The Heavenly Pie is the only one that disappointed me. It’s a chocolate pie with tofu and cream cheese. I know it sounds odd, but it tastes like a delicious chocolate mousse. Unfortunately I can never seem to get the consistency right. This may be because I don’t have the assistance of a food processor, so if you have tried this recipe using one please let me know how it works for you. I can never get it to be completely smooth, I’m always left with little tofu granules. No matter how good it tastes, I don’t like the grainy presentation.

Heavenly Pie and Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

I first saw the Triple-Chocolate Pumpkin Pie in my Martha Stewart Living magazine (yes, I subscribe). I’m usually a purist with pumpkin pie – you know I love pumpkin, and my Libby’s recipe has never failed me. I’m so glad I tried this, though. This pie is absolutely packed with spices and it’s incredibly creamy. The layer of bittersweet chocolate spread over the crust before adding the filling gives it a nice kick, and when it’s cut it’s also very attractive. I did not drizzle milk chocolate over the top simply because I didn’t want to make a mess in someone else’s kitchen (so my pie was more of a double-chocolate pumpkin pie instead of a triple). I’m glad I skipped that part because it is a very rich pie, which isn’t always the best idea after Thanksgiving dinner. This recipe also made a lot more filling than what would fit in the pie dish. I put the extra into some corningware to bake separately, and what I did pour into the crust spilled over a bit. Be careful!

Apple Crumble Top Pie

The Crunch Top Apple Pie from Paula Deen turned out very well. I liked that this pie didn’t need more pie dough for a top – because this was my first time making pie dough completely unsupervised, I didn’t want to take too many risks. I used Martha Stewart’s Pate Brisee pie dough recipe instead of Paula Deen’s. I also packed in an extra cup of apples and I thinly sliced them instead of chopping. The top wasn’t “crunchy,” so I’m not sure about Paula’s naming of this pie, but it was very tart and tasty.

Million Dollar Pie Ingredients

My brother first had Million Dollar Pie at a restaurant called Fisherman’s Wharf in Wanchese, NC. I believe he got the waitress to give him the recipe, but who knows where it is now. I used the Cooks.com recipe to recreate this pie for him. It’s not necessarily a Thanksgiving pie, but it does provide a nice, light alternative to many of the heavy pies usually featured on Thanksgiving. It’s also incredibly easy, and you can add more or less of whatever you do or do not like.

Pumpkin Pie and Apple Crumble Top Pie

I used Martha’s Pate Brisee dough for the regular Pumpkin Pie and the Crunch Top Apple Pie, and I made graham cracker crust for the others. The Triple-Chocolate Pumpkin Pie had a special recipe for graham cracker crust, which was certainly very good. To make a simple graham cracker crust
, combine about 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs with 6 tablespoons of butter. Press the crumbs into your pie dish to form the crust. Bake for about 8-10 minutes in a 350 degree oven until it’s hard (without filling).

Edwin and I would love to hear what you made for Thanksgiving and how it turned out; please comment below to share it with us. Also, thank you for all the kind and encouraging words from friends, family and new visitors in support of DINNERCAKES – we appreciate it!

The Cake That's Not A Cake – Pumpkin Cake with Honey Frosting

Well, this cake lied to me! It claimed to be a pumpkin cake with honey frosting, but soon after I began working on it I grew skeptical.

The batter was thick, even leveling it out in the pan was a little tricky. But as I tried my first bite it just seemed so familiar. I raced over to my recipe binder and began thumbing through the pumpkin recipes. It turns out this recipe is only one or two ingredients different from my favorite pumpkin BREAD recipe.

Pumpkin Loaf with Honey Frosting, Whisking

This really is a quick bread with frosting. It’s very heavy and dense, so make sure you serve it in small squares! This would actually be an amazing treat to have with your coffee in the morning and would serve that purpose much better than having it after dinner when you’re already full. In fact, I found some incredibly cute photos from someone who used the original Martha Stewart recipe to bake mini cupcakes. Bite size is the way to go here.

Ghost Baker Suggests Proceeding With Caution:

Beware the cook time. I used a square 8 inch pan because I don’t have a 9 inch, and I had a bit of a scare when I peeked into the oven at 55 minutes and the cake looked completely done. It had pulled away from the edges of the pan and was dark brown in the center and edges. I left it in for 5 more minutes but then became worried I was overcooking it. I did the knife test since I didn’t have any toothpicks, and it came out clean. But this time the knife lied to me. I poked at the center and it seemed a little squishy – it turns out the cake was like a pool that has a thick cover over it for the winter and I threw it back in the oven! To avoid this problem I would just try treating it like a bread and using a loaf pan (or, approximately 15 minutes for mini cupcakes and 25 for regular cupcakes).

Pumpkin Loaf with Honey Frosting, Leveling

I also used pumpkin cream cheese for the frosting instead of regular cream cheese. This gives the cake and the frosting some nice continuity, and it worked well with the honey.

And, woo hoo, you can make this recipe without any fancy gadgets – no stand mixers, food processors, pastry knives, etc. Dust off your whisk and wooden spoon!

Pumpkin Loaf with Honey Frosting, Chowing

Pumpkin Loaf with Honey Frosting
adapted from Martha Stewart
Prep: 25 minutes, Cook: Approx 1 hour and 20 minutes (when using a loaf pan)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice (or 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon each allspice and cloves)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin puree

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft
1 bar (8 ounces) reduced fat pumpkin cream cheese, very soft (or you can use regular)
1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter your loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and pumpkin-pie spice. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, butter (melted), and pumpkin puree until combined. Add the dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and mix gently until smooth.

Turn batter into prepared pan and level the top using a thin spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes while in the pan, then turn out and cool completely (right side up) on a wire rack.

To make the honey frosting – In a medium bowl, whisk softened butter, softened pumpkin cream cheese and honey until smooth and pale orange. Spread over cooled pumpkin loaf. Cut loaf into sliced to serve.

*If you prefer to use a square 9 inch pan, decrease baking time to approximately 50 minutes.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

Next week my husband is beginning a new career that he’s very excited about, and he asked me to bake something to take in to his office as he says his good byes. I sent him a few recipes to choose from, including 101 Cookbooks’ Amazing Black Bean Brownie Recipe that I’ve been dying to try, but Morgan wasn’t having any of it. He said he wouldn’t want them to think, “Who’s this crazy guy bringing in brownies made of beans? We’re glad he’s leaving!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies, Chopped Chocolate

Back to the drawing board!

I can’t really argue with him – office culture is not the most welcoming environment for exotic new recipes. In fact, people in general can be incredibly wary of trying new things (I should be looking in the mirror as I say this; I’m sure Morgan will be incredulous that I’m even suggesting that I’m outside this category).

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies, Adding Cream Cheese to the Chocolate Batter

I remember a number of birthday parties growing up where my mom would amass enough food to feed an army, an assortment of all my favorite things including an amazing sherbert punch. But the sherbert punch contained a lot of different ingredients along with scoops of rainbow-flavored sherbert that would float to the top – this was clearly not Kool-Aid. And so the punch would go untouched. Hmpf, kids!

But I just couldn’t bring myself to make a chocolate chip cookie or basic brownie recipe this week. This week is different! Historic and amazing things have happened in my home state of Virginia and across the country. Electricity is in the air. If anything is possible, then maybe Morgan’s office will accept something ever so slightly off the beaten path?

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies, Fresh out of the Oven

I kept coming back to two recipes: Chocolate-Pumpkin Brownies from RecipeGirl.com and Pumpkin Swirl Brownies from Smitten Kitchen (though I have to be honest, even I am almost pumpkined out for the season). The RecipeGirl brownies looked more chocolatey and had less pumpkin and pumpkin spices, and the Smitten Kitchen recipe looked great but Deb seemed a little unsatisfied. I decided to compromise and try to incorporate the best of both pumpkin brownie worlds.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

Ghost Baker’s verdict and suggestions for an irresistible medley of chocolate and pumpkin:

Deb at Smitten Kitchen said she kept wishing her brownies were either all chocolate or all pumpkin and the RecipeGirl brownies looked more chocolate than pumpkin. I tried to change the recipes so that one taste might slightly overpower the other. Being that I love pumpkin, I added a whole can of pumpkin along with cloves and more nutmeg. Sometimes I think brownies run the risk of being a little bland, but adding the extra spices really kicked them up a bit. I liked them even better after they set overnight.

Deb also described her chocolate batter as being too thick. To smooth it out and make it more pourable I included 1/2 cup of cream cheese. It was certainly not as thin as the pumpkin batter, but it did help.

I also used a 13×9 pan to keep the brownies from being too enormous and thick.

Update – Success! Morgan said these brownies were scarfed down at his office in no time.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies, Chow Down

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Recipe Girl

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 can solid-pack pumpkin

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 cup cream cheese, softened

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13×9 baking pan and line the bottom and two sides with parchment paper. Grease the paper as well.

Melt chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl for 50 seconds; stir to incorporate fully.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside. Combine sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand held mixer if you don’t have one). Beat until fluffy and pale yellow, approximately 3 minutes. Beat in flour mixture in two parts.

Pour half of your batter(about two cups) into a separate bowl and stir in the chocolate mixture. Add the softened cream cheese and stir unti combined.

In the other bowl, stir together pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Transfer half of your chocolate batter to the prepared pan and smooth and level with a rubber spatula. It will be relatively thin. Top with half of the pumpkin batter. Repeat with another layer of the chocolate batter followed by the last layer of pumpkin. You have to work relatively quickly to keep the batter from setting.

With a butter knife, marble your two batters – make sure you take the knife all the way down to the bottom of the pan.

Bake approximately 27-30 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, then remove brownies by lifting parchment paper and cool completely on your wire rack.

Makes about 36 brownies.

Now THAT'S a Perfect Pumpkin Cookie

Eureka! Joy the Baker has blessed us with the most marvelous Pumpkin Cookie recipe that I’ve tried. This recipe dances circles around the one I tried last week.

Part of the key is flattening and smoothing the dough with a thin metal spatula before baking. At first I thought this step seemed a little odd to me, but having a flatter cookie (still very soft and cake-like) came out so much tastier than the poofy, muffin-like variety.

Also this recipe called for more of your typical pumpkin pie spices such as nutmeg and cloves. It tastes exactly the way delicious pumpkin desserts were meant to!

Pumpkin Cookies, fresh out of the oven

Ghost Baker’s verdict and pumpkin-packed suggestions:

If you like a caramel taste to your pumpkin cookies, then butterscotch chips would be great. I knew from my previous pumpkin cookie attempt that I wanted more chocolate (who doesn’t?). Instead of just 1 cup of chocolate chips, I added an extra 1/2 cup and used bittersweet chocolate chips. I also used a whole can of pumpkin instead of a half can.

Pumpkin Cookies, in an air tight container

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Joy the Baker

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola or corn oil
1 can pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (can also substitute or mix with butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, etc.)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets with buttered parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl (or stand mixer), lightly beat eggs and sugar until smooth (about 1 minute). On low, add the oil, pumpkin, and vanilla until blended. Remove bowl from stand mixer and fold in the flour mixture until fully incorporated. Stir in chips.

Using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 measuring cup, scoop dough onto baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart.

Don’t forget to use a thin metal spatula to smooth and flatten the dough!

Bake cookies one sheet at a time for about 16 minutes – the top should feel a little firm and a toothpick or fork inserted in the center will come out dry. Let the cookies sit for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Cool the cookies completely before storing in an air tight container. Try not to eat them all in one sitting! Makes about 2 dozen cookies.