There are two secrets to these brownies that make these the best pumpkin cheesecake brownies. One, make sure to cook down the pumpkin puree from the can, concentrating the pumpkin flavor. You can certainly skip this step and just use 1 cup of the pumpkin puree from the can but the resulting brownie won’t look as orange and it won’t taste as pumpkin-y. Two, use Dutch processed cocoa. You can find it online but most grocery stores carry Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa which works fine for this recipe. You’ll get a deeper more bitter chocolate taste to the brownies as well as a lovely rich black color that’s a great contrast to the orange pumpkin cheesecake. If the “spiderweb” pattern seems too fussy for you to make, just drizzle the reserved brownie batter over the cheesecake batter in a random pattern and swirl with a butter knife or toothpick.
15ozpumpkin pureenot pumpkin filling, 425 g or about 2 cups
1 1/2teaspoonground cinnamon
12ozcream cheese340 g or 1 1/2 bricks
1cupgranulated white sugar200 g
2tablespoonsall purpose flour
3/4cupunsalted butter175 g or 1 1/2 sticks
1 1/2cupgranulated white sugar300 g
3/4cuppacked dark brown sugar165 g
1cupDutch-processed cocoalike Hershey’s Special Dark, 100 g
1cupall-purpose flour140 g
1/3cupdark chocolate chips65 g
Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking oil. Line the bottom and long sides with a piece of parchment paper, leaving an overhang of about 2 inches of paper over the long sides, to help removing the cheesecake brownies.
Make the cheesecake batter by first placing the pumpkin puree in a large skillet and cooking it on medium high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. The puree will darken and reduce down to about 1 cup. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.
Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat the cream cheese until fluffy, about a minute on high. There might be some lumps in it because the cream cheese is cold but that’s OK. Add the just cooked spiced filled pumpkin puree to the cream cheese and beat to blend, about a minute. If you skip cooking the pumpkin puree or if it’s cooled off, you might want to bring the cream cheese up to room temperature before beating it. Add the sugar and beat to incorporate. Add the flour and vanilla extract and beat to incorporate. Add the eggs, one at a time, to incorporate. Set aside.
Make the brownie batter by placing the butter and both sugars in a medium sized pot. Turn the heat to medium and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter is completely melted and the mixture is a uniform butterscotch color and aroma. Remove from heat and add the cocoa, salt, baking powder and vanilla, stirring to incorporate. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon, to incorporate. Add the flour and beat to incorporate. Spoon out 1/3 cup (95 g) of brownie batter and reserve it. Add the dark chocolate chips to the remaining batter and fold to incorporate. The batter will be thick.
Scrape the brownie batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with a butter knife or offset palette knife. Spoon the cheesecake batter on top of the brownie batter and gently spread it out over the brownie batter evenly.
Place the reserve 1/3 cup of brownie batter in a bowl and add 1 tablespoon of milk. Stir to incorporate. The resulting batter will be thin. Pour into a ziplock sandwich bag and seal. Clip a TINY corner of the bag off with a scissors. Carefully squeeze a line of the thinned brownie batter diagonally across one corner of the baking pan, over the cream cheese batter. Continue to do this all the way across the pan. Using a toothpick, drag a line from the initial corner to all the other three corners, creating a “web” pattern on the cheesecake batter.
Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the cheesecake batter has puffed up and looks set. Cool in the pan on a wire rack and move to the refrigerator to cool overnight before serving.