These fudgy pumpkin brownies combine the best of both worlds in one dessert. Easy fudgy brownie batter is swirled or topped with perfectly spiced pumpkin mixture in this wonderful fall dessert.
Ever end up with a small amount of pumpkin puree left after you’ve cracked open a can for a recipe?
That’s what inspired me to make these pumpkin swirl brownies. I was left with one-third of a cup of pumpkin puree and wanted to put it to good use.
I also had a craving for brownies (what else is new, right?) so what better way to satisfy both problems, if you will, than make pumpkin brownies? They have a denser, fudgy chocolate bottom with a softer, more cake-y pumpkin layer, leading to a variety of textures and flavors in each bite.
Why This Recipe Works
- Warmly spiced pumpkin flavor is SUCH a great pairing with chocolatey brownies. Each bite features a nice balance of both flavors. It’s why chocolate chips are all but a must in my pumpkin banana bread.
- While some pumpkin brownie recipes will have you make one central batter and split it to add separate pumpkin and brownie ingredients, that won’t work as well if you want seriously fudgy brownies. Fudgy brownies begin by melting together butter and chocolate, while cakey brownies start with creaming butter and sugar. Making two separate batters ensures you get a rich and fudgy brownie layer with a tender, cake-y pumpkin layer on top.
- This is a great recipe for using up a small amount of pumpkin puree. Just one-third cup is needed.
While at first glance it may look like there are lots of ingredients needed for these pumpkin brownies, the two layers share many of them in common (chocolate, butter, flour, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt).
- Chocolate: Semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks are used here. The form doesn’t make much difference as most of it gets melted along with the butter, but you can also chop up a chocolate bar.
- Egg: A room temperature egg is preferred, so take it out of the fridge at the same time you grab the butter for the pumpkin layer. The temperature difference between a fridge-cold egg and a hot chocolate/butter mixture can cause the chocolate/butter to thicken up in spots and make the batter harder to work with and spread in the pan.
- Flour: Not much flour is used in fudgy brownies. One-half cup provides all the structure they need.
- Espresso powder: This is optional. Rather than add a coffee taste, it just enhances the chocolate flavor in such a great way. More often than not I add it to my chocolate desserts, and (IMO) it’s a must in these malted brownie cookies.
- Butter: Softened butter is necessary so it can be creamed with the sugar. Butter is softened when an indent forms in it when poked with just a little bit of pressure. Butter can take 1-2 hours at room temperature to soften adequately, but the timing depends on how warm/cool your kitchen is.
- Brown sugar: An equal amount of coconut sugar (love that caramelized flavor) or even granulated sugar can be used in its place.
- Pumpkin: Use pumpkin puree and not canned pumpkin pie filling, which is pre-spiced and pre-seasoned. The cans can be tricky to differentiate sometimes on store shelves.
- Pumpkin pie spice: A pre-made blend works great, but if you have a reasonably stocked pantry you can make pumpkin pie spice yourself.
- Add a half-cup of chocolate chips or chunks and half a stick (four tablespoons) of butter to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds, then give it a whisk.
- Repeat until the chocolate and butter are fully melted and totally smooth.
- Transfer the melted sugar/butter to a larger mixing bowl (if necessary), then add the sugar, egg, and vanilla extract.
- Whisk until everything is smooth and combined.
- Add the dry ingredients to the bowl: flour, espresso powder, and salt. Stir until combined. You’ll notice the batter take on a “shiny” look.
- Stir in reserved chocolate chips. Set aside the bowl of brownie batter for now.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients in a small bowl: flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt.
- Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes. You want to go beyond just combining the ingredients, but continue until the mixture is very creamy and has lightened in color some.
- Mix in the pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla extract. Then mix in the dry ingredients until just combined.
- Stir in chocolate chips.
- Line an 8-inch by 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving enough overhang along two opposite sides so you can more easily lift out the brownies to remove them for slicing. Spread the brownie batter along the bottom of the pan, then add the pumpkin batter on top in dollops.
- Run a knife through the dollops to swirl it into the brownie batter, aiming to end up with a surface relatively even in height *OR* you can simply spread the pumpkin batter on top of the brownie layer in one layer, opting not to swirl. This pumpkin brownie recipe works either way, which is nice because to be honest sometimes I’m just not up for the extra effort.
- Bake at 350°F/177°C for 30 minutes, or until the top has set and a toothpick tester inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean/mostly clean. Let the pumpkin brownies cool completely in the pan, then lift out the parchment paper and transfer the slab to a cutting board to cut into squares.
- Speed up the butter softening process by placing it on top of a running kitchen appliance, such as the counter over the dishwasher, near the oven, or near a warm coffee pot. Just be sure to sure to check on it and flip the stick over so that one side doesn’t get too soft.
- Using a cookie scoop to dollop the pumpkin mixture on top of the brownie layer is an efficient and lower-mess way to assemble these pumpkin brownies. Smaller, evenly spaced out scoops are better if you would like to swirl the pumpkin in, while larger scoops are easier if you’d simply like to spread the pumpkin layer evenly.
If you don’t have an 8″ x 8″ square pan, you can use a 9″ round cake pan without making any changes to the recipe. You can halve the recipe and use a 9″ x 5″ (or 8″ x 4″) rectangular loaf pan, or you can double the recipe and use a 9″ x 13″ pan. When halving or doubling, keep a closer eye on them as they bake as a slightly taller or shorter brownie height may require a longer or shorter bake time.
Once the brownies have completely cooled, store them at room temperature in an air-tight bag or container for 3-4 days. If you know you won’t be able to finish them all in that time, wrap them in foil, place in an air-tight container, and freeze for four months (or longer).
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating in the recipe card and/or a comment review below!
Fudgy Pumpkin Brownies
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks, divided, mini or regular-sized
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
- Pinch of salt
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 6 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- ⅓ cup pumpkin puree
- 1 large egg
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips mini or regular-sized
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8" x 8" square pan with parchment paper, leaving enough excess parchment along two opposite sides of the pan so that you can easily pull out the cooled brownies for slicing later on.
For the Brownie Layer:
- Add 4 tablespoons of butter and ½ cup of the chocolate chips to a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 20 seconds intervals, stirring/whisking well after each increment, until melted and smooth.
- Add ½ cup granulated sugar, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and whisk well until smooth.
- Add ½ cup flour, espresso powder (if using), and pinch of salt and stir until combined. The batter will have a bit of a 'shiny' look to it. Stir in remaining ¼ cup chocolate chips.
- Pour brownie batter into the parchment-lined pan and spread with a spatula so it's in an even layer. Set aside for now.
For the Pumpkin Layer:
- Whisk together ⅔ cup flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
- In a separate mixing bowl, add room temperature butter and brown sugar. Cream together using a hand or stand mixer on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
- Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix until just combined on low speed. Fold in chocolate chips.
- Using a spoon or a cookie scoop, add small dollops of the pumpkin mixture over top of the brownie layer. Run a toothpick or a knife through the dollops to lightly swirl the pumpkin and brownie mixture together (though you can also just spread the pumpkin mixture evenly on top). Continue until all dollops are swirled and the surface is level throughout.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean or mostly clean, with only a few crumbs clinging to it. Let the pumpkin brownies cool in the pan entirely before lifting them out by the parchment and slicing.
- A cookie scoop helps speed along the process of adding the pumpkin layer to the pan. If you’d like to swirl the pumpkin mixture, use small dollops evenly spaced throughout the pan. If you’d rather just spread the pumpkin layer evenly, large dollops work best.
- Storage Instructions: Store cooled and sliced brownies in an air-tight container or bag at room temperature for 4-5 days. Freeze in an air-tight container or bag (with excess air pressed out) for several months.
- Pan Sizes: A 9″ round cake pan can be substituted without any recipe changes. Halve the recipe and use a 9″ x 5″ (or 8″ x 4″) loaf pan, or double the recipe and use a 9″ x 13″ pan. The bake time may need to be slightly adjusted depending upon the thickness of the pumpkin brownie mixture.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.
Brownie layer adapted from my One Bowl Small-Batch Brownies
Pumpkin layer adapted from Martha Stewart