Pumpkin Swirl Brownies Recipe

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

Spiced pumpkin cheesecake is swirled into a rich brownie base. Individual portions make these moist brownies easy to serve.

Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti

Spiced pumpkin cheesecak

Every fall we all go on a pumpkin binge: pumpkin muffins, pie, ice cream, cheesecake, and lattes. I indulge until I'm totally over it (sometime just after New Years), and ready to put pumpkin away until next year. Pumpkin is the perfect canvas for all those warm, cozy spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. It just makes you want to curl up with a blanket and a book. Pumpkin and spice are also a good match for chocolate, such as in these moist and chocolatey pumpkin swirled brownies. I always use canned pumpkin when I bake. To me, mashing up fresh baked pumpkin is more hassle than it's worth, not to mention that it tends to be watery.

There's no need for a mixer for this recipe, which makes it easy. The two batters, a chocolatey brownie and a creamy pumpkin cheesecake, are easily hand stirred in two separate bowls. The batters are spooned in layers into individual cupcake cups, gently swirled together, and baked (no water bath needed). To created an intense orange colored swirl, I dabbed in a few specks of orange food coloring. Eaten room temperature or cold, these striking brownies are a moist, creamy, pumpkin-y, spicy, Halloween-y treat that's easy to make, and just perfect for any fall dessert table.

Notes: It's easiest to swirl the batters together before the brownie batter cools and begins to thicken. This recipe will completely fill the cupcake cups. Depending on what size cups you use, you may have a bit of batter left over.

Recipe Facts

Active: 30 mins
Total: 60 mins
Makes: 12 brownies

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  • Pumpkin batter:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • orange food coloring, optional
  • Brownie batter:
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder


  1. Adjust rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Place cupcake liners in a 12-cup muffin pan. Stir cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, egg yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add a few dabs of orange food coloring if desired. Set aside.

  2. Heat butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring, until melted and smooth. Place eggs, sugar, and salt in large bowl and whisk until lightened, about 45 seconds. Whisk in chocolate mixture and vanilla until mixture is glossy and smooth. Add flour, cocoa, and baking powder and then whisk until completely combined.

  3. Divide brownie batter between the cups, reserving about 3/4 cup. Divide pumpkin batter between the cups. Portion the remaining brownie batter between the cups. Using a butter knife, swirl the batters together (see note).

  4. Bake until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan before removing. These can be eaten room temperature (they will be soft) or chill to fully set. Refrigerate leftovers.

Special equipment

12-cup muffin pan