Pumpkin-Swirled White Chocolate Brownies

This (American) Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for so many things. The usual, like a healthy family, a happy marriage (nine years tomorrow, NINE!), good friends, white wine, forgiving pants, and new episodes of The Next Iron Chef. But I'm also thankful for you, my darling readers. I'm glad you're here. And to celebrate, I thought I'd share something special. Something so totally perfect right now, big on pumpkin flavor, and yet an awesome departure from the ubiquitous pumpkin pie. This recipe is indeed reminiscent of pumpkin pie, with lots of warm spices and a swirl of earthy orange fruit. But! It's portable, people. Totally portable pumpkin pie! It's a Thanksgiving miracle!

I make this bar in a few different flavors depending on the time of year, all of them with a creamy, dreamy, white fudgy base; something that seems a whole lot like a brownie, but with white chocolate instead of dark bittersweet (a blondie, then?). I've told you before, I'm a big believer in white chocolate, and this bar speaks the TRUTH. And with the flavor of sweetly spiced pumpkin pie swirling through the whole thing? DANG. Much to be thankful for, here.

Because we're just a couple days out from what is arguably the best holiday of the year (all of the food, none of the gift-giving stress), I won't fill up your screen with a whole bunch of sappy, heartfelt words. Although that's mostly because my mouth is so crammed full of these totally delicious bars I would look absolutely ridiculous trying to talk right now. But know that I love ya, and I made these bars for you.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I'll see you on the other side, which is to say the side where we start doing lots of holiday cookie-baking. Yip!

Pumpkin-Swirled White Chocolate Brownies Makes 12

Use either chocolate chips or chopped bar chocolate here, I won't judge. My favorite brand of canned pumpkin is Libby's; it has the most fabulous, vibrant color of any storebought puree I've found. 

These bars are the ultimate make-ahead dessert--they are infinitely better the day after they're baked. 

For the pumpkin swirl: 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree 1 large egg 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, firmly packed 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger Pinch of salt

For the white chocolate brownie batter: 1 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 8 ounces white chocolate, chips or chopped bar chocolate 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed 2 large eggs 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Lightly spray an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Line it with an 8-inch wide strip or foil or parchment, and lightly spray for extra nonstick insurance.

To make the swirl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, egg, brown sugar, flour, vanilla, spices and salt until smooth. Set aside.

For the batter, sift together the flour and salt into a small bowl. In a large heatproof bowl, combine the white chocolate and the butter. Melt together in the microwave with 30-second bursts of high power, stirring well after each interval. Whisk the in the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Gently stir in the flour mixture just until no dry pockets remain. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Dollop the pumpkin mixture over the batter in five or six equal portions. Use a knife to swirl the pumpkin into the batter with figure-8 motions. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly dry, with a couple moist crumbs, about 30 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting and serving (and if you can wait a day to serve them, you will be rewarded with amazing flavor and texture).

BarsShauna Sever