Fudgy pumpkin swirl brownies combine the best of both worlds in one dessert. Easy brownie batter is swirled with a perfectly spiced pumpkin mixture in this dessert bar recipe perfect for fall!
So I’ve done it. Pumpkin. I was going to hold off until next month to share these chocolate chip pumpkin swirl brownies but I’m woefully impatient and couldn’t wait.
I blame it on Mother Nature for gracing us with an extended respite from the typical hot and humid August weather (NOT that I’m complaining…), which has caused my brain to speed up and think about all things fall.
Plus these brownies are SO good, it felt wrong to keep them all to myself, you know? I’m not selfish like that.
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 after updating the pictures on an old recipe post, 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, at once.
The brownie portion comes directly from my small batch brownies recipe. I bake those brownies in a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan, but opted for a 9″ x 9″ baking dish here as I knew adding pumpkin batter to the top would make up for the height lost by using a wider pan.
The brownie layer
One of the many things I love about the brownie portion here is that it’s FUDGY. So fudgy. It provides the perfect base for the pumpkin to be added on top and is substantial for slicing. Is there any dessert not enhanced by a brownie layer? I’m not sure there is.
Here’s some brownie trivia for you. Did you know the order in which you mix up the ingredients determines if you’ll have fudgier or cakier brownies?
Melting together the butter and chocolate as the first recipe step will lead to fudgy brownies, while creaming together the butter and sugar as the first step will produce cakey brownies. I’m all in on fudgy brownies so butter/chocolate is always where I begin.
To the melted butter/chocolate you’ll add sugar, an egg, and vanilla extract, and then a small bit of flour, espresso powder, and a pinch of salt.
The espresso powder is optional, but it 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.
The pumpkin layer
Now for the pumpkin portion. The pumpkin batter is sweetened with brown sugar and spiced with pumpkin pie spice for the ultimate fall flavor mashup. It’s also softer and less dense than the fudgy brownie bottom, so you’ll get a variety of textures and flavors in each bite of these pumpkin swirl brownies.
You can use a store-bought pumpkin pie spice mix if you like, or you can make your own using this pie spice recipe if you’ve got the spices on hand already. There’s also a bonus recipe for apple pie spice there, too, if we’re going to commit to going all in on fall.
Because the brownie layer is fairly thin, I used a cookie scoop to disperse portions of the pumpkin batter over top for swirling. This way you don’t have to worry about trying to smooth out a perfectly even pumpkin layer.
The swirling is meant to be imperfect, which is right up my alley when it comes to decorating desserts. Lord knows I’m not a gifted cake or cookie decorator — icing this rainbow cookie cake is probably the extent that I can go. “Rustic” is a lot more my speed.
Once everything is swirled, the brownies will bake for around thirty minutes, or until a thin tester (like a toothpick) inserted in the center comes out clean or mostly clean, with just a few crumbs sticking to it.
Let it cool completely before lifting the slab out of the pan by the ends of the parchment paper and cutting into pieces. It’s hard waiting to dig into these bad boys especially after smelling them bake, but they’ll slice up a whole lot cleaner if you wait until they’re cool.
And there we go! One dessert that will satisfy both choco-holics and the pumpkin obsessive alike.
If you’re opening a new 15-oz can of pumpkin puree for these pumpkin swirl brownies, you should have a little over 1 1/2 cups left.
And if you’re looking for suggestions, my naturally sweetened pumpkin bread recipe uses one cup of pumpkin and the rest is just enough to act as the secret ingredient in a batch of Instant Pot turkey chili. <– why I keep pumpkin puree on hand all year round!
- Be sure you’re using 100% pumpkin puree, and not pumpkin pie filling. Their cans will likely be next to one another on the store shelves and they look very similar. Pumpkin pie filling is pre-spiced and pre-sweetened, and would be too much with all the other spices and sweeteners here.
Fudgy Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp espresso powder (optional)
- Pinch of salt
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 6 tbsp packed brown sugar
- 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9" x 9" cake 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 tbsp butter and 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips to a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 20 seconds intervals, stirring well after each increment, until melted and smooth.
- Add 1/2 cup granulated sugar, egg, and 1 tsp vanilla extract and mix well.
- Add 1/4 cup flour, espresso powder (if using), and pinch of salt and mix until combined. The batter will have a bit of a 'shiny' look to it. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips.
- Pour brownie batter into the prepared pan and spread with a spatula so it's in an even layer. Set aside.
For the pumpkin layer:
- Whisk together 2/3 cup flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl.
- Add room temperature butter and brown sugar to a separate mixing bowl and cream together using a hand or stand mixer on medium speed. Add vanilla extract and pumpkin puree 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.
- Add dollops of the pumpkin mixture over top of the brownie layer, using a spoon or a cookie scoop. Run a knife through the dollops to lightly swirl the pumpkin and brownie mixture together. 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 swirl brownies cool in the pan, and then lift out by the parchment and slice.
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 from my One Bowl Small-Batch Brownies
Pumpkin layer adapted from Martha Stewart