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
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.