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The weight of paranoia

Tomorrow, I head down to Southern California and I’m a little anxious. It’s a big work trip, and there is a lot riding on how successful this trip is. As a newbie to the department, I feel like I’ve got a lot to prove. I realize perfection lies in the eyes of the beholder but if I could nail this three day presentation without looking like a total ass, I’d classify this trip as a perfect notch on my work belt.

In addition to any performance anxiety, I’m a pretty nervous flier, which seems ridiculous considering I love to travel. I don’t let my fear of flying hold me back, but I dread the plane ride more than anything else. With all this upcoming action, my anxiety has been extremely high, which means that I’ve been a busy little bee. When things get tense, I get to work. First up, I cleaned my disgusting kitchen, wiping down every counter and cleaning out the fridge. Next came an insane amount of laundry that had been stockpiled for the past two weeks. Lastly, I cleaned out my Mac, transferring photos to an external hard drive and deleting the awful ones.

I guess I should thank my anxiety for rediscovering this recipe because it is definitely a keeper. I came upon this Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares recipe from Martha Stewart last year, in the midst of my pumpkin extravaganza. It must have gotten lost in the shuffle that was last year’s baking marathon. Side note: I didn’t realize how many afternoons I spent in the kitchen last year between the months of October and January. I guess that’s what impending graduation does to a gal, right? I’m a little sad that these squares hadn’t had their time in the limelight since they are absolutely divine.

The ingredients are pretty simple: flour, butter, sugar, and canned pumpkin. I used organic pumpkin puree and since you only need one cup, you can save the rest for other pumpkin goodness. The originally recipe called for semisweet chocolate chips but I substituted bittersweet chocolate because it was all I had and I prefer bittersweet to semisweet chocolate. I like the deep rich cocoa flavor in bittersweet, and it worked well with the sweet squares. But, of course, if you prefer semisweet, go right ahead. While I like the way the squares looked with the chunks and slivers of chocolate nestled in the soft batter, it was a little messy when it was time to cut up the squares. If you are particularily fussy about appearances, use the chips because they won’t snag while you are cutting the squares. But, if you can, use the bittersweet chocolate chunks. Please.

After letting the squares bake for 30 minutes (watch that timer, folks! you don’t want dried out squares), I wanted to dive in but smartly let the pan cool for 30 minutes. After walking by, tormenting myself, I finally dived in and it was absolutely delightful. Soft, moist, sweet but not ridiculously sweet. Perfect with a cup of coffee or tea as you spend the afternoon watching the leaves turn. Or, in my case, fretting over a busy week.

I will see you guys on Friday. Wish me luck!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Squares
Printable recipe
Origin: Everyday Food by Martha Stewart
Yield: Makes 24
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 to 40 minutes

● 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
● 1 tsp cinnamon
● 1 tsp. baking soda
● 3/4 tsp. salt
● 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
● 1 1/4 cups sugar
● 1 large egg
● 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
● 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
● 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

Lift cake from pan (using foil as an aid). Peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into 24 squares.

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October 4, 2009 - 1:20 pm

Kylie of Thin Crust, Deep Dish - Deep breaths about work. My girlfriend always tells me, “Focus and confidence” when I’m nervous. You’re going to do wonderfully. Plus, you’ll have the evidence of your baking prowess as comfort breakfasts and snacks!

October 4, 2009 - 2:26 pm

tara - Best of luck with everything that’s going on; take solace in your ability to make some darn fine looking squares. You’ll do a smashing job, I’m sure.

ps. The photo of the chocolate is swoon-worthy.

October 4, 2009 - 7:44 pm

lillie - Oh my, those pumpkin squares look absolutely delicious, and, I’m thinking, perfect with some morning coffee. Best of luck with the presentation! Those things always go better than we imagine they will. And a little chocolate always helps.

October 5, 2009 - 6:38 am

Dolce - I am keeping my fingers crossed for your presentation! I am sure the pumpkin chocolate squares will definitely help you with stress management :)

October 5, 2009 - 8:16 am

whitneyinchicago - You will do awesome!!!! Good luck :)

October 5, 2009 - 8:37 am

kickpleat - You’ll be awesome! With those squares in your belly, there should be no room for butterflies. Good luck!

October 5, 2009 - 10:14 am

Jennifer - Best of luck with your travels and presentation! I’d be delighted to nosh on these darling squares while sipping a pumpkin spice latte.

October 6, 2009 - 6:18 am

asprea - This looks so yummy.
I now know what to make for the office potluck!

October 7, 2009 - 9:54 pm

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Squares « Recipes That I Want To Try Soon - [...] Links About Me! Tastespotting Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Squares October 7, 2009, 10:54 pm Filed under: Bars From: [...]

October 8, 2009 - 9:26 pm

Linda - Firstly, canned pumpkin?! You Americans have everything!

Secondly, these look f*cking awesome. Did I just swear? Yes I did, because it was necessary. These look so delicious. Perfect for Halloween with its orangeyness.

Thirdly, I’m commenting after your trip and I am glad all worked out well. I told you it would be okay!


L xx

October 14, 2009 - 9:47 am

jenni - I made these over the weekend to take to potluck celebrating Thanksgiving (yes, us Canadian’s do it a bit early up here). They were amazing! I’ve never gotten so many compliments on a new recipe before. Thanks for posting this!!

October 14, 2009 - 2:28 pm

L. - Amanda, I made these, dumped in some toasted pecans and even without the cream cheese icing I added, they turned out so amazing. So amazing, and thank you for sharing the recipe. I’m also glad to hear that the anxiety was quelled because all worked out. You’re great.

October 23, 2009 - 1:08 pm

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Squares « orange ideal - [...] that delicious dessert. Pumpkin desserts began popping up everywhere I looked and when I saw it on Slow Like Honey I knew it was time for me to jump on board. The recipe from Slow Like Honey is Martha [...]

April 8, 2010 - 4:11 am

theaxx - oh yum yum yum! I’m going to try this!! Been fawning and drooling all over your pictures on flickr and this looked just too damn good!

Looking for pictures of cookies for a design project… way to get distracted ! ;)

thea – Spoonfulzine.

February 27, 2011 - 5:58 am » Blog Archive » Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Squares - [...] Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Squares Today we made Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Squares! [...]

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