***Please vote for my brownies in the Starbucks Via Recipe Contest. Vote Today! Thank you :) ***
Remember those French Macarons us Daring Bakers posted for the October challenge? Well, maybe not us. I, for one, did not complete this challenge when I had a complete macaroon melt down. Truth be told, I rushed it but I did get feet so I am not a total, utter failure. Its just that I couldn't pipe circular or uniform shells rendering Hunchback of Notre Dame macaroon shells (with feet) instead of smooth and demure shells we have come to know and love. My macaroon filling, a strawberry cream cheese frosting, was chilling for days looking at me with the lonely, longing eyes to be a part of an Autumnal dessert. How could I deny this frosting a place atop an artfully crafted confection; the crown on top of a Princess? I could not muster this kind of negligence and with the office Halloween party just around the corner, to the dessert drawing board I went.
As per usual here at L&S, I found my inspiration for Mocha Pumpkin Brownies with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting through the exceptional pumpkin brownies posts floating around the foodie blogosphere this October like StreamingGourmet's pumpkin brownie, Natalie'sKillerCuisine peanut butter pumpkin brownie, and BakingBites pumpkin brownies with pecans. I wanted in on the pumpkin brownie club, so I went to the cupboard and got to work.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
1 80z. strawberry flavored cream cheese
1/2 butter softened
3 cups confectionery sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
(I add ground cocoa roasted almonds leftover, so I added 2 tblsp of those to add an allusion of seeds in the frosting. This is entirely optional.)
1 1/2 cup pumpkin pie filling or pumpkin puree* (Amount spices and sugar amounts depending on your choice. The following is for the filling, you will increase the sugars and spices with puree).
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3.5oz. 85 % dark chocolate
1.5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup pack dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Starbucks Via Colombia instant coffee packets
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
Directions (you will need several bowls and counter space galore, fyi.)
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting: This can be done days or hours before baking the brownies. The chill time is necessary to firm it up.
Beat the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Add confectionery sugar one cup at a time thoroughly mixing after each cup.
Optional: mix-in ground almonds.
Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator to chill. For best results, chi
ll 3 hours.
Mocha Pumpkin Brownies
Preheat to 350 degrees and grease a 9" x 13" pan with butter. My mom taught me to save butter wrappers because they are perfect to grease pans with, so there is my little nugget baking tip for you!
Melt the two chocolates and butter together in whatever kind of double-boiler you can configure. Whisk constantly to melt the mixture together. Whisk until smooth and remove from the heat and let come back up to room temperature.
Mix the dry ingredients for the mocha batter and the dry ingredients for the pumpkin batter separately.
In a larger bowl, beat the eggs and sugar for the pumpkin batter until fluffy. Add the pumpkin pie filling and vanilla and mix until combined. Next, add the melted butter and spices; mix well again.
To complete the wet ingredient batter for the mocha portion, mix the brown sugar, Starbucks Via Colombia Instant Coffee, and vanilla to the melted chocolate. Beat in the eggs
and combine thoroughly.
To mix the 2 mocha batters, gradually fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Use a spoon so you mix it well enough but you don't over mix.
To mix the 2 pumpkin batters, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients using whatever kind of mixer equipment you got. Again, do not over mix.
Pour the mocha batter into the greased pan and be sure to evenly spread it around. Pour the pumpkin batter evenly on top.
Using a large tablespoon, swirl the batters together gathering mocha batter in the spoon and pulling it up to the top and vice versa. Also don't over-swirl which mixes the two batters together.
Bake for 30 minutes. Test with a toothpick.
Let brownies cool completely and ice the brownies evenly using a butter knife. Chill the frosted brownies for at least 1 hour to let them firm up.
Cut into small squares and serve to hungry Halloween-ers! :-)