Today I hauled a bunch of baked goods in to New York City to share with some friends who are either running or spectating at tomorrow's NYC Marathon. In addition to some items I'd baked a couple of weeks ago and frozen, I supplemented with two additional items: Pumpkin Brownies (from a recipe I saw posted at Cookstalk, the forum at the Fine Cooking Web site), and Apricot Crumb Brownies from Baking from the Heart.
The brownies were OK, although I think they ended up just slightly overbaked. The recipe specifies a 50-minute baking time. I set the timer for 40 minutes and took the fully baked brownies out of the oven at 38 minutes. I think they could go a few minutes less. The flavor combination of the spicy pumpkin-cream cheese batter swirled into the brownie is really nice. Here's the recipe:
Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies
MAKES 24 BROWNIES
* PUMPKIN BATTER
* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
* 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1 large egg
* 1/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ginger
* 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
* CHOCOLATE BATTER
* 5 1/2 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
* 1 1/4 sticks (5 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
* 4 large eggs, at room temperature
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 heaping cup large walnut pieces (about 4 ounces), optional
1. MAKE THE PUMPKIN BATTER: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. In a small bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the sugar, scraping the bowl occasionally. Beat in the egg, then add the pumpkin puree, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger. Stir in the flour.
2. MAKE THE CHOCOLATE BATTER: Combine the semisweet chocolate and butter in a medium bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan with 1 inch of simmering water and stir occasionally until melted. In a large bowl, combine the eggs with the sugar, vanilla and salt; set the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water and, using an electric mixer, beat at low speed until blended. Increase the speed to mdeium and beat until the mixture is warm to the touch. Remove from the heat and continue to beat until the mixture is think and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the melted chocolate. Sift the flour over the warm batter and fold it in just until combined. Fold in the walnut pieces.
3. Spread the chocolate batter evenly in the prepared pan. Using a tablespoon, drop dollops of the pumpkin batter all over the top. Using the back of a butter knife, swirl the pumpkin batter into the chocolate; don't overdo it or the swirl pattern will be lost. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the brownies cool completely before cutting.
Then there were the Apricot Crumb Bars. They're a Susan Purdy recipe contributed to Baking from the Heart, a book published in support of Share Our Strength. These bars are instantly one of my favorite bar cookies ever. Resting on a shortbread base, there's a layer of semisweet chocolate topped with a layer of apricot (both preserves and plumped, pureed dried fruit), and finally with an oat-and-walnut-studded crumb topping. I didn't have quite enough dried apricots for the fruit layer, so I supplemented with a bit of dried mango. The mix of textures and flavors (shortbread, chocolate, fruit, nuts) is brilliant. I'm already thinking about variations for this bar cookie (like maybe dried cranberries with a layer of white chocolate).
(Apologies. I have no photos of the brownies or the apricot bars. They were distributed and devoured -- I hope -- before I could take a photo.)