Pumpkin Brownies

It finally feels like fall! Fifty-degree nights mean Thanksgiving must be just around the corner, and I’m becoming dangerously giddy as visions of sweet potato casserole dance in my head. I’m wearing boots and a sweater today despite the fact that it’s supposed to be 85 degrees this afternoon. I wish Texas weather would cooperate and embrace autumn as wholeheartedly as I have.

When I came across this recipe combining the flavors of my favorite season with one of my very favorite desserts, I knew that these brownies needed to be in my belly ASAP. Brownies have it all; they’re chocolatey, fudgy, gooey, melty, and best of all, they’re healthy! At least, this recipe is. But the fun doesn’t stop there, because we’re adding pumpkin!


I truly hope you’re not tired of pumpkin, because I don’t see the end of pumpkin recipes anywhere in sight for the next few weeks. I’ve still got a few cans patiently waiting to be used in my next bowl of oatmeal and Elesha’s Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Bars.

I have to mention that I was housesitting when I made this recipe and was without the ingredients to make the brownies from chickpeas, as I usually do. However, I strongly suggest using the chickpea brownie recipe rather than the original, as chickpeas provide a great fiber and protein boost! Just remember that the brownies pictured are made with whole wheat pastry flour and are more crumbly than those made with chickpeas, which turn out fudgier. I’ve included the chickpea brownie recipe following the original, so if you’ve got beans on hand, I recommend skipping to the bottom first!

Pumpkin Brownies
Adapted from this recipe, makes a 9 x 9 pan

Brownie Layer (from original recipe, pictured)

4 oz  chocolate, melted (I used dark)
1 cup canned or pureed pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar (or substitute – please do!)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 T cornstarch
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Pumpkin Layer

1 cup canned or pureed pumpkin
2 T cornstarch
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/3 cup sugar (or substitute)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch ground allspice

Directions:

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 and oil your pan. I like to measure out all the ingredients at the beginning because it makes things easier and more enjoyable. Sipping a hot cup of pumpkin spice coffee while baking is also recommended. 🙂

Step 2 (Brownie Layer): Melt the chocolate (the microwave is the easiest way, in my opinion). In a large mixing bowl mix together pumpkin, sweetener, oil and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Sift the dry mixture into the wet mixture until smooth.

Step 3 (Pumpkin Layer):  Mix all pumpkin layer ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir until thoroughly combined.

Step 4: Spread the brownie layer into the prepared baking pan and pour the pumpkin layer over it. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pumpkin layer looks fairly firm and is golden brown.


Step 5: Let cool for 20 minutes and then transfer to the fridge to set for at least an hour and a half. In the meantime, make a delicious spinach salad to offset all the dessert you’re about to consume.

Step 6: Devour a brownie or two with a sprinkling of chocolate chips and store the rest in the fridge. These absolutely must be refrigerated or they’ll go bad pretty quick, which I’m very sad to say I learned the hard way. Fortunately, I thoroughly enjoyed a few of them beforehand!

Below is the alternative brownie layer recipe I promised.

Brownie Layer with Chickpeas (healthiest method!)
Note: this make a large batch, you may not need to use all of it.

  • 2 cans (or 3 cups cooked) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup dry sweetener
  • 1/2 cup honey or agave (depending on desired sweetness)
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1/2 cup ground flax
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup cocoa (I like dark)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (or canola)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (optional if you want it less fudgy)
  • 1/2 cup (or more!) canned or pureed pumpkin (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions: Blend all ingredients except chocolate chips and walnuts in the food processor until very smooth. Boiling the garbanzos first is helpful because they’re softest when hot, and will be easier to blend, resulting in a smoother brownie. Harder beans make the batter gritty. Add walnuts and chocolate chips if desired and finish with the recipe above, starting with Step 3.

There are more delicious autumn recipes on the way – and I promise they won’t all contain pumpkin! If you’re interested in giving your favorite fall recipe a skinnyfat makeover, just leave a comment and we’ll see what we can come up with. We love a good challenge!

Don’t forget to like us on facebook and follow us on twitter!

~ Becky, a skinnyfat girl

Secrets to Great Hummus

My obsession with chickpeas is no secret. And while they’re great in  biscuits, salads, and gooey desserts, the most popular way to eat chickpeas is definitely in hummus form. A few months ago I made my first batch of hummus and was completely hooked.

I’d never been impressed with homemade hummus. Store-bought hummus had a great flavor and creamy texture, but it seemed all the homemade hummuses lacked one or the other. All of the ones I tried were either gritty, grainy, or just tasted…weird. I was determined to make mine even tastier and creamier than the stuff from the store. And guess what? I did.

It’s so easy when you know the secrets. Maybe they’re not even secrets, maybe these are the basic rules that you all learned in Hummus-Making 101, but they’ve changed my life. Hummus used to be a rare treat because I couldn’t rationalize paying $4 for an 8 ounce container that I would undoubtedly devour in one sitting. Now I pay a dollar for a pound of dry chickpeas that will yield enough for an entire week of hummus gluttony. These days, my fridge is rarely without it.

I’m not giving you an exact recipe, because everybody likes their hummus a little different. For example, I despise tahini (which is normally one of the main ingredients) and leave it out entirely. I’ve made it with and without, and the hubs and I both enjoy it much better without tahini. I usually use limes rather than lemons because I’ve always got them on hand, and I don’t think it really makes a difference in the flavor. I go heavy on the garlic, but I realize we’re not all garlic lovers. My dad sometimes adds liquid smoke, but I think it tastes fake and nasty. See? It just depends what you like.

I’ve also found it to be nearly impossible to measure ingredients, because I continually taste and add more of this or that.

World’s Creamiest Hummus

Ingredients:
Chickpeas (Garbanzos)
Lemon or lime juice
Flavorful olive oil
Fresh garlic cloves
Salt (I like sea salt)
Tahini (optional)
Paprika (optional – I love it!)

Five ingredients. I told you this was easy.

That takes care of the flavor, but what we really need to focus on is texture. To me, the texture makes or breaks it; good hummus needs to be super smooth and creamy. So listen up, the secrets are about to be revealed!

1. Overcook your beans. Leave your garbanzos cooking in the crock pot on low for a good 10 to 12 hours. They should be so soft that if you drop one on a hard floor it will splatter! While overcooked chickpeas may not work well in other recipes, they are ideal for hummus. For this reason, I recommend not using canned , but if that’s all you have, then you absolutely must:
2. Make hummus with hot beans. If your chickpeas are from a can or have been stored in the fridge, cover in water and boil for at least 10 minutes. They’re softest when hot, and the softer the bean, the smoother the hummus.
That’s it. Those were the secrets. I know, you’re in shock.
Directions:
1. Put hot, drained chickpeas, fresh lime juice, pressed garlic, salt, and olive oil in the food processor.
2. Blend and blend and blend until perfectly smooth.
3. Sprinkle with paprika and olive oil and serve with hot pita bread or chopped veggie sticks.

Yummus hummus in my tummus.

Have you ever seen a more beautiful, fiberlicious snack? I didn’t think so. Enjoy your bean paste hummus!
P.S. Blogging makes me hungry.

~Becky, a skinnyfat girl
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