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Holiday Baking #1: Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake Brownies

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     From here on out (or until the New Year at least), I’m going to be baking my face off.  Not unlike the rest of the year, December kicks me into high gear in the kitchen and my oven definitely gets a work out!  My friends and family all receive baked goods for the holidays (whether they want them or not!) and as tokens of how much I love them.  
     I always try to bake different things every year to keep it interesting.  There are a few things that I like to keep in my line up, however.  There is never a holiday season without snickerdoodles, as far as I’m concerned!  I will absolutely be posting another variation of my favorite cookie again soon.  
     I also try to always bake a bar cookie or brownie of some sort.  There’s something very soothing (especially during the hectic holiday season) about making a batter or dough and simply pouring/pressing it into an 8×8 pan.  No rolling required! ^_^
     I also love the ease of serving/cutting/packing these types of treats.  Brownies and bars travel well, look great on their own (most of the time…), and ask nothing in return except for you to shove them in your mouth.  There’s no pretense.  You really don’t need to sit there and talk about how beautiful they are, because they’re not.  They look good because they taste good…   If you ever see a brownie that’s fancy, question it.  Everything you ever need to know about a brownie is right there on the surface and inside.  There’s no need for fancy designs or garnishes on a brownie…unless you’re talking ice cream. 😉


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This is all you need to know.

     The inspiration for these brownies came from two things: my love of pumpkin cheesecake and my love for chocolate.  Oh, and the third was my indecision of whether to make a pumpkin cheesecake or a brownie.  
     So, I compromised with myself and mushed the two together!  Hooray for solutions.

     I used the base recipe of my magic coconut brownies with a very slight modification (or two).  I mixed some chopped pecans (in place of the shredded coconut) into the batter to compliment the flavor of the pumpkin and spices.  I also love brownies with nuts in them.  The nuts give wonderful buttery texture and slight crunch which is always nice with chocolate, I think.
     I also added some dark cocoa powder to the brownie batter to make it more bittersweet.  The mellow, earthy sweetness of the pumpkin cheesecake batter really compliments the dark cocoa.  I could go on, but I think you should just make them already. =P

Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake Brownies

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Yield: about 15 servings
Adapted from Magic Coconut Brownies ; Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe adapted from Post Punk Kitchen

Ingredients

Brownies

  • 7 tablespoons coconut oil, refined
  • 6 tablespoons applesauce, unsweetened
  • 6 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (or chips)
  • 1 1/2 cups GF all-purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons ground flax + 3/4 cup water/non-dairy milk
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 Tb cocoa powder (I used black onyx, which is a very dark and bitter variety; regular or dutch will do as well!)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, opt.
  • 1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips, opt.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Batter

  • 1/4 cup whole unroasted cashews soaked in water for 2 to 8 hours or until very soft
  • Half of a 12 to 14 oz package silken tofu, drained
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tb coconut oil, at room temperature
  • 1 Tb tapioca starch
  • 1 Tb apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest, opt.
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Instructions

Brownie Batter

  1. Grease an 8×8 baking pan lightly with oil.  In a heavy small saucepan, heat the oil, applesauce and chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the other wet ingredients with a spatula. Add the cooled chocolate mixture. Sift in all dry ingredients and stir to combine before folding in pecans and chocolate chips, if using.
  2. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. 

Pumpkin Cheesecake Batter

  1. Drain off cashews of all liquid.
  2. Place all ingredients for the cheesecake in a high powered blender or strong food processor.  Blend until completely smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender/processor as you go to get all the cashew chunks incorporated. 
  3. Pour the finished cheesecake batter onto the top of the brownie batter in the baking dish.  
  4. Swirl the cheesecake batter into the brownie batter, if desired.  
  5. Bake in a 325 degree F oven for 35-40 minutes or until brownies are set.  The cheesecake batter will still be softer than the brownie batter; as long as the top is browned, you’re good!  These are vegan so you can eat them raw if you’d like… 😉
  6. Let cool completely before slicing.  Store in the fridge. Enjoy!!! ❤

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