Each year, at exactly this time, begins a Thanksgiving cooking blitz that doesn’t end until Thursday afternoon. I know of people who prep much earlier in the week but I’ve never gotten into the habit. It’s due in part to procrastination and partly my fear that a dish would no longer be at its best on Thanksgiving if prepared too early. Or maybe I just need help with time management!
Over the years, I’ve settled into a routine. I get up early to put the turkey in a large oven while the side dishes are prepared in a smaller oven, a steady stream of activity that keeps the kitchen warm all morning. My menu consists of traditional holiday offerings: Roast turkey, ham, yam and apple casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, roasted veggies, cranberry sauce and sometimes stuffing. I prepare most of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes while my family comes to my home bearing even more food, mostly filipino main dishes and other sweets.
This holiday and Christmas are the two holidays I look most forward to since I know I’ll be with my family. My parents, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces–it’s a given that we’ll all be together and as I get older I realize how special these times are. Family time. It’s #1 on my things-to-be-thankful-for list.
But before all the craziness tomorrow afternoon, I’ll be baking until late tonight. I like to have at least one pumpkin dessert each year but I don’t limit my offerings to pumpkin pie. I have fun changing things around a bit so why not pumpkin and chocolate together?
I found a butternut squash-chocolate brownie recipe that is served at the Carneros Inn. I thought that if it’s good enough for the beautiful Napa Valley retreat, it would be good enough for me and my family. I did take some minor liberties with the recipe but I’m confident I did not compromise the integrity of the original.
As promised by the recipe, these brownies were ultra moist with a nice chocolate flavor. But I also detect a very slight earthiness thanks to almost two cups of pumpkin, making these almost an almost guilt-free indulgence. And the texture? These brownies are not dense like most brownies I’ve made. They still have some heft but they’ve got a spring in their step, like a heavy sponge-cake. Definitely not like any other brownie recipe I’ve tried before but also a keeper. Thanksgiving can’t come soon enough!
Happy Thanksgiving to you all! May your Thanksgiving be abundant in not only good food and drink but also in love and joy with friends and family.
- 1 15-oz can of pumpkin puree (or for a more brownie-like texture, use 1 1/2 cups as per original recipe)
- 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I used 71% Valrhona Chocolate)
- Scant 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (My addition for a deeper chocolate flavor)
- 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into tablespoon portions
- 4 large eggs
- 1 3/4 cups sugar, give or take a tablespoon (Original recipe called for two cups but I reduced with good results)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Note: If you decide to use fresh butternut squash or pumpkin for this recipe, please click the link above for directions.
Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Lightly butter a 9×13 inch baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the paper. Over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler, stirring frequently, adding the unsweetened cocoa powder near the end. Set aside and let cool slightly.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt at medium speed. After two minutes the mixture will become pale and thick at which time you will need to beat in the melted chocolate and the pumpkin puree. Finally, beat in the flour and baking powder at low speed.
Pour the (very thick) batter in the prepared baking pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool before cutting and serving.
This recipe yields 12 large squares or 15 normal-sized brownies. This can also be made ahead and stored in an airtight container for three days.