If you poll your friends who live in the Chicago area, you'll probably find that a sizable percentage are like me and love autumn most. With the bright, bold leaves, the crisp air, the crunch under our shoes, that tantalizing, thrilling feeling that Halloween brings to our hearts, it is a sensuous, free-spirited time of year, a last hootenanny before the deep freeze of winter settles in. Also, after a hot summer, it's time for us to start those ovens again, filling our homes with the great, comforting smells we associate with the season: pumpkin, nutmeg, vanilla. Pumpkin, cream cheese, chocolate chips: a symphony of both mild, rich and seasonal flavors, it was even better than I imagined. The morning after, when the cream cheese layer really had some time to meld and set? They are spectacular.
Brownies 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed 3 tablespoons aquafaba or water ½ cup plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk 1/3 cup + 2 Tb. pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie purée) 1/3 cup + 1 T. maple syrup 1/4 cup neutral oil for baking, like safflower 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract 1½ cups gluten-free flour blend (I like this one) 2/3 cup unbleached sugar ½ cup slavery-free, vegan cocoa powder 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice blend 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup slavery-free, vegan chocolate chips plus 4 tablespoons reserved for topping
Stir together the flaxseed and aquafaba or water until it is mixed. Allow to sit in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil an 8 X 8-inch baking pan or line with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, stir together the pumpkin purée, maple syrup, oil, vanilla and flax goop. In a large bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, salt and spice blend. Add pumpkin mixture and stir until everything is mostly combined, then fold in the chocolate chips, reserving four tablespoons for the top. Add the mixture to your prepared pan and smooth the top so it is flat.
Pumpkin-Cream Cheese Topping 1 8-ounce container vegan cream cheese, room temperature ⅓ cup unbleached sugar 3 tablespoons pumpkin purée 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder 1 tablespoon gluten-free flour blend 1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice blend Mix together the cream cheese, sugar and pumpkin purée until it is smooth in a mixer or by hand in a medium bowl. Then add the rest of the ingredients, processing or mixing by hand until very smooth.
Smooth this over the brownie batter, and sprinkle the remaining four tablespoons of chocolate chips over the top. Bake for twenty minutes at 350 degrees, rotate a half turn, and lower the temperature to 325 degrees. Bake for 15 more minutes, until the cream cheese is a little tan around the edges. Let it cool.
Now go take a walk. Seriously, this is part of the recipe. Enjoy the beautiful maple trees, alive with color. Throw a stick for your dog or borrow your neighbor's dog for this purpose. Don't come back for at least 30 minutes. You have to let your brownies cool for at least that long but these are best cool, stored in the fridge for at least one hour.