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Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies

Chocolate and pumpkin make a frightfully gooey pair in these creamy pumpkin-swirl brownies.

  • Yield: Makes 16
Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies

Source: Halloween 2004, October Holiday 2004


  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or other nuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; butter lining.

  2. Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.

  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until fluffy and well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.

  4. Divide batter between two medium bowls (about 2 cups per bowl). Stir chocolate mixture into one bowl. In other bowl, stir in pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer. Work quickly so batters don't set.

  5. With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle with nuts.

  6. Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.

Reviews (65)

  • trifoxn 22 Nov, 2012

    I just finished making these. Mine came out just like brownies. Not cake-like at all. Maybe when others are adding the flour to the eggs and sugar, they beat it too long. I only mixed it enough to get everything moist. I was expecting a disaster but they turned out wonderful. Sweet and spicy!

  • zuzu b bakin 18 Nov, 2012

    I made these BUT changed it to fit what I had in my kitchen. I had left over pumpkin puree, about 1 cup, and about 1 and a half cups of chocolate ganache. instead of separating them and doing layering and using a knife I just mixed everything together. I omitted the cayanne, and the only seasonings I used were pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon. it made one 5x11 jelly roll pan and 7 muffins. they were AMAZING. dense, chewy, chocolatey and not overbearing. I will definitely make again!

  • citychick76 13 Nov, 2012

    I also agree with the other reviewers. These brownies are more cake like, especially when you first take them out of the oven. Initially, I was pretty disappointed- I figured with all the butter, chocolate, and sugar that these would be delicious. However, they tasted pretty bland. However, overnight in the fridge did wonders on the taste! Wow, delicious- moist, less cake-like and the chocolate/pumpkin flavors pop! If you are making these for a party, I would make them the night before.

  • ThedaBara 12 Sep, 2012

    I agree with the other reviewers that have stated this brownie recipe has a very dense, cake-like aspect. That being said, I thought they where delicious! Very rich and filling, I could only do one small square at a time. These where a hit with my husband and the couple of friends I sent these to. I'll definitely be making these again this year.

  • maranfos 19 Nov, 2011

    Followed recipe except did not add cayenne. I agree it's more of a cake than a brownie but it was very tasty and not dry although the chocolate batter does lose some spreadability if it the chocolate cools. Next time I will keep the chocolate warm until it's time to add it to the batter. Nice recipe for fall and pretty presentation.

  • Srizo 27 Oct, 2011

    I agree with some of the others, this is cake-like. I tried them before they cooled and the had little taste and the were dry. I didn't give up on them and tried them again the next day. I loved them. They were tasty and very moist! I will try them in a loaf pan next time and possibly make a glaze. I recommend these.

  • laurenarrington 23 Oct, 2011

    Not sure what I did wrong, but it turned out more like a cake than brownies. Regardless, it is delicious! I love the combination of the chocolate and pumpkin, and the cayenne pepper gives it a nice spicy zing. I thought about omitting the cayenne, but I am glad I didn't. I think for high altitudes, it is better to use a 13x9 pan for this recipe.

  • beckiemarie 22 Oct, 2011

    These are reaaaallly good. A mix between cake, bar and brownie. I would have liked them much better without the cayenne - it's pretty weird eating a spicy dessert.

  • GenTink 1 Oct, 2011

    Just came out of the oven and these are delicious! Chewy,moist and rich with just the right amount of pumpkin taste. I omited the cayenne because I didn't have any.

  • GenTink 30 Sep, 2011

    Do you think I could use Pumpkin Pie filling if I reduced the sugar a bit? I don't think we have any pumpkin left right now.

  • teacher82 25 May, 2011

    Takes lots of bowls, time, effort. Results are really good. Be sure to swirl or you end up with slippery chocolate layer (Can you tell what I didn't do?!).

  • BooneLady 30 Jan, 2011

    I made these today

  • BooneLady 30 Jan, 2011

    I made these today

  • AlexaRochelle 15 Nov, 2010

    I used semi-sweet chocolate instead of bittersweet and they turned out phenomenal! I also used just a little extra chocolate to be sure they weren't too pumpkiny. So tasty!

  • pumpkinpants 22 Oct, 2010

    I followed this to the letter and used quality ingredients, but they didn't turn out so hot. The hazelnuts don't work, the chocolate layer was too dry to spread easily over the pumpkin layer and much like another reviewer I baked it for 20 min extra and the four middle pieces were too gooey (inedible in fact). Pumpkin is great for cakes and soft "cookies" but not for brownies.

  • CocoJ 6 Oct, 2010

    @ mcmaestas: Try them again, it might be that you forgot to add something. They turned out quite sweet. :)

  • mcmaestas 19 Sep, 2010

    I made these today, and they turned out really dry and not very sweet. Any ideas?

  • LolaLaBalc 19 Sep, 2010

    I made these the day that I got the recipe and I would make them again. The cayenne is a very nice addition. It gives a warm note to the spice mix, without being spicy-hot. I used Earth Balance as a butter substitute, as I made these for a friend who can't eat dairy. I'm not sure how much of a difference in taste or texture it made, but these are very dense brownies. I would try using less sugar, and swapping brown for white sugar next time for more depth of flavor.

  • kbdesigner 16 Sep, 2010

    I'm not sure how the cayenne pepper fits in here...can I skip that?

  • Yankiwi 16 Sep, 2010

    I can't wait to try these, pumpkin chocolate-chocolate chip muffins are my favorite. As far as I know, in New Zealand you can't buy canned pumpkin. I cook winter squash (called pumpkin here), mash it and freeze for later use. If you cook your own, make sure it is drained or it will be too wet.

  • Suzngr 16 Sep, 2010

    Sounds great BUT there is NO canned pumpkin in the stores!
    What would you have to add to the recipe to use sweet potato

  • iPlanItRight 16 Sep, 2010

    I made these last night! The family loves them! This is the perfect fall treat. Perfect mix of chocolate, spices and pumpkin. Yum!

  • fattumscat 16 Sep, 2010

    For the person who complained that this was far too much batter for a 9" round pan, do the math. The area of a 9" square pan is NOT the same as the area of a 9" round pan, it's significantly less, so that's why they didn't bake evenly for you.

  • fattumscat 16 Sep, 2010

    For the person who complained that this was far too much batter for a 9" round pan, do the math. The area of a 9" square pan is NOT the same as the area of a 9" round pan, it's significantly less, so that's why they didn't bake evenly for you.

  • yamini 26 Mar, 2010

    awesome recipe.

  • JamyR 27 Nov, 2009

    the middle never set up. I'd bake it in a 9X13 pan instead. I did not add vayenne pepper nad it tasted very good.

  • sbartkus 20 Nov, 2009

    made these for two different gatherings and they were a hit!! the perfect texture and richness with that special hidden ingredient, cayenne pepper, giving them a bit of zing! will definitely add to my regular repertoire of recipes.

  • MetricCook 20 Nov, 2009


  • BigMon 10 Nov, 2009

    Even after baking for an additional 20 minutes, the middle never set up. And no one liked the cayenne pepper in the mix.

  • swinters 26 Oct, 2009

    These turned out with just the right gooeyness and deliciousness, even a touch of spice. My family enjoyed them with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top. Will make again for sure.

  • crazy4sushi 16 Oct, 2009

    these came out more like a cake. the texture was a little rubbery too. .. won't make again.

  • kaspicer 13 Oct, 2009

    I agree with sonyarowlands. Mine was more like a cake; I probably wont' make it again.

  • sonyarowlands 13 Oct, 2009

    mine came out too much like cake....i think the baking powder should be skipped and the flour reduced a bit.

  • ArtemisiaSage 11 Oct, 2009

    My family love these, I've made them also with left over baked sweet potato.

  • lisapowers 9 Oct, 2009

    I made these, and they were delicious! That chocolate pumpkin combo is just great.

  • shamis 2 Oct, 2009

    I made these last year I left out hte cayenne and the nuts. Instead I drizzeled chocolate glaze across the tops. The best ever.

  • cherylwitherell 2 Oct, 2009

    solid pack pumpkin is canned pumpkin . like libby's . It should say so on the can.

  • blueyegrl527 2 Oct, 2009

    Where in the world do you buy "solid pack Pumpkin"??? I have never seen or heard of this! Can I use a substitute?

  • Lil-Brooklyn 25 Dec, 2008

    My first attempt at baking and WOW were these a hit! Everyone loved the unique twist on the usual brownie and enjoyed the little kick from the cayenne pepper. By popular demand I'm making another batch next week!

  • THEJAXIE 28 Nov, 2008

    So Julia it is not a sin to use can pumpkin but u do want to buy the solid pak pumpkin not the puree. I did not use the nuts on my brownies and they turned out great...i was also thinking of putting pecans instead and i'm sure they would taste fantastic with any type of nuts...

  • THEJAXIE 28 Nov, 2008

    These r the best brownies i have ever made... I made them a few weeks ago and they were such a hit that i had to make them again for turkey day, another hit from love love her...

  • julialovesmartha 25 Nov, 2008

    Hi everyone! I am new to the board, but not new to Martha-her recipes ROCK!
    This is my first time at this recipe and I need to know a couple of things:
    1) is it a mortal sin to use Libby's puree pumpkin than freshly pureed?
    2) does the recipe really need the nuts or can I go nutless? If I need nuts
    has anyone substituted pecans for the hazelnuts before? Thanks!

  • ljelacich 23 Nov, 2008

    Made them in a 9" round pan and didn't cook evenly.Too much batter in the pan for a brownie. After I made the batter,separated them and putting the different layers in the pan, the chocolate batter stiffened up; last sentence on point 4 should be first. Therefore, the batter didn't swirl as it should. There wasn't enough of the" chocolatey brownie flavor "for my taste either. It's debateable whether I'll make them again.

  • VesperLynd 11 Nov, 2008

    Actually this WAS a tasty dessert. I really enjoyed making it and enjoyed eating it. I would also consider making brownies entirely out of the chocolate part of it...or at least eat the batter. If you aren't big on cayenne, just half it and its not too overpowering.

  • Estella_Thomason_King 10 Nov, 2008

    This was NOT a tasty dessert. Perhaps it would have been better to just make the pumpkin batter with Cayenne and other spices, then just swirl in melted chocolate.
    We did NOT enjoy this Pumpkin Brownie and I followed the recipe to the letter.

  • pamandmartin 7 Nov, 2008

    I would like to make a truffle for Thanksgiving. This recipe sounds like a great start. What would you suggest to put with it? Pumpkin flavored whip cream, nuts ??

  • angelrt1 5 Nov, 2008

    I thought these brownies were very delicious and were a big hit at my Halloween Party! However......YOU CAN taste the Cayenne Pepper. If you do not like spicy....Leave out the Pepper!

  • catherine495 3 Nov, 2008

    Followed recipe exactly. Delicious.

  • SOMERSIZING 31 Oct, 2008

    Sorry, my entire comment did not come up. Everyone liked these goodies. Definately a KEEPER. will use less sugar next time.

  • SOMERSIZING 31 Oct, 2008

    Made this and gave some to both neighbors

  • karenses 28 Oct, 2008

    I know that the ratio for unsweetened chocolate to cocoa powder is 1Tb. cocoa powder and 3Tb. oil equals 1 ounce of unsweetened chocolate. The problem is that bittersweet chocolate is sweetened, so you would probably also need to add sugar. I just wouldn't know how much. i suppose you could keep tasting the batter until it tastes good!

  • veronicareid 27 Oct, 2008

    Can you substitute the bittersweet chips with cocoa powder? If so, does anyone know how much cocoa powder I would add. I am on a vegetarian diet and am trying to convert this recipe. I will have to also convert the butter to canola oil or coconut oil....and replace the eggs.....

  • dovecanyon 26 Oct, 2008

    The oil goes into the pumpkin mixture, not the chocolate mixture. The chocolate batter contains a whole stick of butter, so it sure doesn't require any additional oil. These worked up well using a packaged brownie mix and adjusting the ingredients to only make the pumpkin batter. I don't see any reason why you couldn't bake and freeze, just seal them up well.

  • Maricusa 26 Oct, 2008

    Can these be made now and frozen until Thanksgiving?

  • catherine495 25 Oct, 2008

    I had the same question about pumpkin puree and from what I found in an internet search, they solid pack pumpkin is just another name for pumpkin puree.

  • SOMERSIZING 22 Oct, 2008

    The best brownies by far that I have ever tasted, they take the Blue Ribbon. Gave some to neighbors on both sides and they had to have the recipe and raved about them. The Church Ladies will be envious. Thanks Martha, it is Oh So Good

  • ttwtwtwtpk 19 Oct, 2008

    can i use pumpkin puree for this recipe???

  • mamamelis2 11 Oct, 2008

    I split up the batter and put more in the chocolate mix than the pumpkin and I only put in 1 layer of pumpkin. Also did not put all of the pumpkin in, which then fit the 8x8 pan fine. But if you follow the directions, you definitely need the 9x13. I took out the cayenne because even though it was just a little, you could really taste it and it was too much spice. I added semi sweet and bittersweet chocolate chips and it was perfect. These are my favorite brownies!

  • scarney111 5 Oct, 2008

    This brownies were very unique and delicious. My only complaint is that they were a little dry, despite the fact that I added the vegetable oil when kimwilliams6 said I should. However, these were still very good, and I will definitely make them again.

  • kimwilliams6 12 Sep, 2008

    The directions forget to add the 1/4 cup of vegetable oil to the eggs, sugar and vanilla mixture. If your brownies are dry, this may be the reason.

  • constancewalsh 26 Dec, 2007

    Tastes great and is a unique dessert. Would work better in a 9x13 tray. In a 9" square tray the brownies were nearly overflowing and therefore did not evenly bake through.

  • hybridmama 24 Dec, 2007

    My husband and I love these brownies. I reduced the sugar to 1 1/2 cups and increased the pumpkin to 1 1/2 cups. I also added 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. Very tasty with pecans. Baked for 35 minutes and they came out moist and delicious. Will make again and again.

  • tlfranklin8 4 Dec, 2007

    DRY, DRY, DRY!!! Not good. I went back over the recipe to see if I missed some thing...maybe cook it for 25-30 minutes. I wouldn't waste my ingredients.

  • Joyen 6 Nov, 2007

    These brownies were very tasty but too spicy for my children. If you are making them for children I would recommend leaving out the cayenne or only using a pinch. I used 1/4 tsp as the recipe called for and they were too hot for the little ones but my husband loved them.

  • esther 5 Nov, 2007

    this recipe is great with sweet potatoes. i heart sweet potatoes!!

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