It’s Pumpkin Time! Let’s Make Pumpkin Brownies
By Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff
During these times of social isolation, many families are cooking together with their children. This important learning experience is beneficial for the rest of their lives.
The challenging COVID-caused seclusion also reminds us about the pleasure of making useful things. Environmentally safe, fair trade and locally sourced products are popular in gift shops, but what is greener than a homemade edible gift? Preparing food for your loved ones warms up your kitchen and their hearts.
Here are two edible gifts that make great partners: pumpkin brownies (or let’s call them Pumpkin Organgies) paired with cranberry chutney.
Both pumpkin and cranberries remind me of fall festivities. Both fruits are also very nutritious. Pumpkins are loaded with a variety of nutrients, such as vitamins, A, C, K and E and potassium and they are a good source of dietary fiber. Cranberries are also rich in vitamins C and K, and manganese and copper. Cranberries are a well-known remedy for bacterial infections.
Pumpkin brownies are a good alternative to chocolate brownies for those who cannot tolerate chocolate and those who want a lighter sweet treat. These brownies are quick to prepare and easy to transport for a pot-luck dinner.
2 cups unbleached, white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
½ cup chopped pecan or walnuts
1 cup brown or raw (turbinado) sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree (from a fresh, cooked pumpkin or canned puree)
½ cup butter or oil
½ cup yogurt (or soy yogurt)
2 eggs (or for vegan version, mix 2 tablespoons of flax seed meal with 6 tablespoons of warm water)
If using a fresh pumpkin, cut the fruit in half. Remove seeds and fibers and discard them. Place the two halves with the open side down onto a vegetable steamer basket. Pour two cups of water in a large wide pot with a cover. Insert the steamer basket in the pot, cover it and cook the pumpkin for 20 to 25 minutes or until the flesh is soft enough to come out easily with a fork. Remove pumpkin from the steamer basket and scoop out the flesh. Mash the flesh into a puree using a food processor or a potato masher. You will only need 1 cup of the pumpkin puree. Refrigerate the rest for the future use.
Preheat oven at 350°.
In a mixing bowl, sift the flour and baking powder. Add the salt, cinnamon and nuts (saving several nut pieces for decoration.). Stir in the sugar. Mix all the dry ingredients with a spoon.
Place the pumpkin puree, butter or oil, yogurt (or vegan yogurt) and beaten eggs (or flax seed meal combined with water) and process them into a puree. You can do this by using a masher or a fork, making sure to puree the pumpkin thoroughly. Transfer the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix the batter gently but thoroughly.
Brush a spoonful of oil inside of a square baking pan (about 8”x 8” x 2”). Pour the batter into the pan and spread it out evenly. Bake for about 30 minutes or longer until golden. Test the doneness by inserting a fork into the surface; if it comes out clear, the brownies are done. Take the pumpkin brownies out of the oven and allow them to cool for a few minutes. Then cut them into squares. While they are still warm, press a nut piece onto the surface each piece as a décoration.
Serve the pumpkin brownies warm, at room temperature or cold, with cranberry chutney – recipe to follow. For giving them as a gift, you can arrange a few squares into a box lined with paper towels and covered with some napkins. Don’t forget the chutney.
Makes 9 square pumpkin brownies
Chutneys are popular Indian condiments that give an accent to any entree. Freshly made chutneys are not to be confused with the preserved pickles that are very oily and salty. Fresh chutneys are usually made with seasonal fruits or vegetables and they are meant to be consumed within a few days or weeks. This recipe takes the cranberries to a higher level than when they are used to make the more familiar cranberry jelly.
3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup water
2 cups honey, sugar, fructose, or maple syrup
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
½ teaspoon each ground cloves, cardamom and cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)
Chop the cranberries coarsely using a food processor, a blender, or a knife. Transfer them to a saucepan with the water and cook for ten minutes until the berries are soft. Add the sweetener and spices and cook 15 to 20 minutes, until the chutney looks jam-like and shiny. Pour the hot chutney into clean glass jars and seal the jars while the chutney is hot. It will solidify further as it cools. Refrigerated, this chutney keeps well for several months.
Makes 4-5 half-pint jars
Copyright © 2020 by Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff.
Shantai is a Sunset District resident and the author of “Cooking Together” and “Flavors of India,” both available at Other Avenues Food Co-op at 3930 Judah St., in the Outer Sunset District, Green Apple Book Store in the Richmond District and Rainbow Grocery Co-op in the Mission. Shanta writes recipes and articles on food and nutrition. She also teaches vegetarian and vegan cooking classes and shares her recipes via videos on YouTube.
Categories: Cooking Together