Pumpkin is one of those ingredients that can be both really healthy or really, um, not. It’s quite a jack-of-all-trades in that way.
Like, some people mix pumpkin puree into their whole wheat, vegan, gluten-free, free-range, non-GMO, no added sugar, soy-free healthy brownies to add sweetness and moisture. That is a really awesome, healthy use of pumpkin.
These brownies are not that use of pumpkin. Well, maybe healthy for your soul. That totally counts! I fully believe that feeding your soul foods that make you happy is just important as feeding your body foods that make it happy. And these pumpkin brownies make my soul sing.
These brownies are loaded with sugar, butter, and chocolate—oh my god, the chocolate. These brownies are so rich and decadent, that you have to cut them into teeny tiny squares to not go into a sugar coma after eating one.
The bottom layer is your typical fudgy, dark chocolate, gloriously gooey brownie layer. Honestly, you could just follow the recipe and make the bottom layer, and you’d be in brownie heaven. It’s exactly the way brownies should be – crunchy edges, with soft and chewy insides (anyone who says brownies should be cake-like can, um, go away).
Mr. Pumpkin makes an appearance in the middle section. This is basically a super thick and deliciously pumpkin-tastic buttercream filling. It’s loaded with pumpkin spice flavor, and is a beautifully light orange color (which comes from canned pumpkin pie filling – if you use the homemade stuff, you might think about tinting the filling with natural orange food coloring).
Just like the brownie layer, you can just make this buttercream, and then spread it onto cupcakes, pumpkin bread, or a spoon. And then eat it all. Because, yum.
And then, because there is no such thing as “too much chocolate,” the top layer is a soft, velvety chocolate ganache that hardens just a touch—just hard enough to make the brownies easy to slice, but still soft enough to feel super decadent.
It’s like a gloriously sweet pumpkin buttercream sandwich made with rich chocolate bread. I’m not kidding, make sure you cut these guys into itty bitty squares—I recommend less than 2 inches—folks can always come back for more if they are really jonesin’. But they are rich enough that one small square is plenty to satisfy most sweet teeth (except mine, it is never satisfied—rawr).
If you can believe it, this is actually the last dessert recipe I’ll be sharing with you for Pumpkin Week! I figured that the pumpkin dessert world is already pretty saturated, and I’d love to show more people the joys of savory pumpkin. Coming up in the next few days we’ve got burgers, pasta, and soup, oh my!
I hope you guys are having as much fun with this influx of pumpkin as I am. I love themes! Enjoy.
Super rich and decadent, these Three Layer Pumpkin Brownies are packed full of rich chocolate flavor and Fall festiveness. Serve them at your Halloween party! Brownie layer recipe adapted from AllRecipes.
For the First Layer:
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
For the Second Layer:
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, softened
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
5-6 cups powdered sugar
2-3 drops orange food coloring, optional
For the Third Layer:
5 ounces semisweet baking chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper, set aside.
To make the first layer, in the bowl of stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Add in the vanilla and eggs, and mix until smooth.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt. Add to the butter mixture in three additions, mixing well after each.
Stir in the chocolate chips.
Spoon the brownie batter into the prepared baking pan (it will be very thick), and spread it out flat using a rubber spatula coated in cooking spray.
Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean (if you wait until it is totally clean, the brownies will be a little less fudgy).
Remove from oven and let cool completely before proceeding.
To make the second layer, cream together the butter, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract using an electric mixer. The butter might look chunky, but don't worry, it will smooth out later.
Add in the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Mix until smooth. Continue adding the powdered sugar in 1 cup increments until you reach the consistency of a thick frosting. Mix in the food coloring until well incorporated, if using.
Spread the pumpkin mixture onto the cooled brownies in an even layer. Place in fridge to chill while you make the third layer.
To make the third layer, in a small microwave bowl, combine the baking chocolate and butter. Microwave at 50% for 60-90 seconds, or until the mixture is melted. Stir well.
Remove the brownies from the fridge, and spread the chocolate mixture in an even layer over top of the second layer.
Place the brownies back in the fridge to cool completely before slicing into small squares.
You might be tempted to try to make this in a square pan—don't! You'll have brownies so tall they can't stand up. Stick with the 9x13 pan.
No one ever complained about a brownie that was too fudgy. Err on the side of undercooking the first layer.
At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.
Cassie is a holistic nutritionist, cookbook author, and all-around food lover. She grew up cooking dinner with her parents every evening, and her passion for home cooking has been strong ever since. Cassie is the author of two published cookbooks (Cooking with Greek Yogurt and Chia, Quinoa, Kale, Oh My!) and dozens of recipes published in major magazines and newspapers. Cassie has been sharing her award-winning recipes on Wholefully since 2010. She loves dark chocolate, homegrown tomatoes, motorsports, and anything that sparkles. She lives in Indiana with her family on a small homestead.
I just made these and I only used half of the powdered sugar in the pumpkin layer (that was all I had lol) and they were still INCREDIBLY sweet. Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly. I would recommend cutting back on the sugar a bit, one bite is enough to give you a sugar rush! Very good flavor and I’ll definitely be using the recipe for the first layer as my new go-to brownie recipe.
Thanks so much for the feedback, Katie! We appreciate you taking the time to come back and tell us about your experience. It makes a world of difference to us and everything we do. Thank you! =)
Do you think these would freeze well?
I think so! I’ve never tried it, but I don’t see why they wouldn’t.
Is it unsalted or salted butter?
I just wanted to say that these turned out AMAZING. I used much less sugar in the buttercream, and used bittersweet instead of semisweet for the ganache, but HOLY COW. New absolute favorite. I’m amazed and so in love!