Today I lost a good friend. Big Red was part of my life for only a few years, but he was there whenever I needed him. Lasagna for a crowd? No problem. Oven Roasted Vegetables? Stuffed Pasta Shells? Cinnamon Rolls on Christmas morning? No job was too big for Big Red. Here he is in happier times…
As I pulled Big Red from the cabinet this morning, I could tell something was wrong. I heard a crack and my heart sank.
He still had so much life to live. The only way I know how to deal with this kind of loss is to dust off another 9×13 and make a pan of brownies. It’s what he would have wanted.
Dark Chocolate & Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies
adapted from King Arthur Flour
1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter
2¼ cups (450 g) sugar
1¼ cups (104 g) natural cocoa powder (Hershey’s)
1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
4 large eggs (room temp)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1½ cups (192 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9×13 inch pan. This is not the prettiest picture, but be sure to cover all of the bottom and sides of the pan with butter and flour. You could also line with a couple of sheets of parchment paper.
In a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter. Add the sugar and stir for about 5 minutes to dissolve some of the sugar. Do not let mixture bubble. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Combine cocoa powder, espresso powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a small bowl. (I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder). Also, if you don’t have espresso powder, it’s not a big deal. If you do a lot of baking, especially with chocolate, I would recommend buying a jar. It doesn’t add any coffee flavor, but does amplify the chocolate taste.
Add cocoa mixture to butter mixture and combine well. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth. Add the flour, beat until well combined. Spoon the batter into the pan. Prepare the pumpkin cheesecake topping.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Topping
8 oz. (226 g) cream cheese (softened)
¾ cup (183 g) pumpkin puree
1 large egg
¼ cup (50 g) sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment. Scrap down the sides of the bowl and be sure all ingredients are combined thoroughly. Spread mixture evenly over top of brownie mixture. Swirl batters together with a butter knife.
Bake brownies for 30-40 minutes. Test by inserting a toothpick into the center. You want it to be dry. Remove from the oven, and after 5 minutes loosen the edges with a butter knife. Doing this helps prevent the brownies from sinking in the center as they cool. Cool completely before cutting. Enjoy!