Thanksgiving Brownies · GF (12 slices)

A week of baking prep, two hours in flight, an hour in a cab and four hours of sleep all spent for three and a half minutes of airtime. From the outside, it might seem like an investment disproportionate to the return, but remember: you’re talking to someone who makes dessert for a living.

I spend the majority of my day working toward something that people demolish in a few quick bites after dinner. At least with a video, I can have my brown sugar, pear & pistachio cake and eat it too.

But after the weekend I’ve had, brownies seem way more doable.

brownie baked in cast iron skillet

It’s funny. People consider chocolate torte an elegant dessert and brownies an after school snack. But the biggest difference comes down to how you slice it. Literally. You serve a wedge of chocolate torte on a plate, but eat a square-cut brownie with your bare hands. They’re not really that different, we just perceive them that way.

So slip brownies into a round pan, bling ‘em out with emerald green pepitas and slice them into wedges and you have a dessert every bit as classy and fork-worthy as a torte, but American enough for Thanksgiving. I like baking them in cast iron, but then again I have a major obsession with cast iron on Thanksgiving. It has a look that feels rustic and unpretentious, yet inexplicably classy.

As written, these brownies have a gentle pumpkin pie-like spice, but give the batter a taste before pouring into the pan. You can punch it up by tweaking the nutmeg, ginger and cloves a 1/4 teaspoon at a time; be a little braver when it comes to cinnamon and adjust it by the teaspoon.

A lot of new readers came aboard over the weekend, so if you’d like to read a little more about why I write recipes in weight measurements, check out this post. The short answer: for me, it’s much faster, less messy, and more reliable. If you feel more comfortable baking with cups, you can find the converted recipe over on Garden & Gun.

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Brownies, 12 slices

4 1/2 ounces all purpose flour or hazelnut flour for gluten free
3 ounces cocoa, preferably Dutch process
8 ounces unsalted butter
6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
3 large eggs
10 ounces sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 ounces raw pumpkin seeds or your favorite nut

Preheat the oven to 300° and lightly grease a 10” cast iron skillet with pan spray or a touch of butter. A quiche pan, tart pan, or 10” round cake pan will all work too. With a cake pan, you might consider using a parchment round on the bottom to make the brownie easier to remove.

Sift together the flour and cocoa, then set aside.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan until hot and bubbly, then remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until smooth.

Whip together the eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla and spices on medium speed with a hand mixer, or in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment; about 5 minutes.

Shut off the mixer and pour in the butter/chocolate mixture all at once. Mix on low speed to combine, then dump in the dry ingredients and mix until the flour and cocoa disappear.

Give the batter a good stir with a rubber spatula, then pour into the prepared pan, using the back of a spoon to smooth it down.

Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and bake for 25-30 minutes. The brownie is very dense and will retain its heat and keep cooking for quite some time (especially if using a cast iron skillet), so pull them earlier than you might otherwise. Cool completely before slicing.

brownie with pumpkin seeds


If you’d like to play up the pumpkin seed theme, stir 4 ounces of pumpkin puree into the chocolate/butter mixture. These brownies will have a more matte crust and a slightly cakier texture, but not by much.


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Any questions?

Nov 19, 2012 ·  9:30 PM

These look great, the little pumpkin seeds against the deep chocolate look wonderful, I’d make them with the hazelnut flour even though I’m not gluten intolerant.

 · Sue@theviewfromgreatisland · http://theviewfromthegreatisland

Nov 20, 2012 ·  6:34 AM

These look fabulous Stella and I love the easy substitution of hazelnut flour for regular to make a GF treat. So pretty too!

 · Mardi (eat. live. travel. write) ·

Nov 20, 2012 ·  8:42 AM

Absolutely gorgeous! I’m loving the addition of pepitas and pie spices. I’m having a love affair with pepitas lately, and this looks like the perfect addition to my already out-of-control obsession with those green beauties! I really, really love chocolate and cinnamon together as well. Congrats on your Fox & Friends appearance too!

 · Sara at The Cozy Herbivore ·

Nov 20, 2012 ·  9:12 AM

YOU.ARE.A.ROCKSTAR! By the way, don’t forget your fans pre-Fox & Friends when you become rich and famous, the post-fans are just “icing on the cake”

 · Char · 

Nov 20, 2012 ·  9:17 AM

@Sue, yeah, it’s a terrific variation, even for gluten-lovers.

@Mardi, thank you! I’m a little obsessed with hazelnut flour right now…

@Sara, if you’ve got a pumpkin pie spice (or custom blend) you like, you can use a Tablespoon of that instead of the spice blend listed.

@Char, never!!! I would never have even landed a book deal if not for my loyal friends online. I owe my readers everything. <3


Nov 20, 2012 ·  9:44 AM

Am definately going to add this to my Thanksfiving table. I am thankful for you and the sweetness you have added to my life.
Can I substitue almond flour for the hazelnut?

 · Dinaz · 

Nov 20, 2012 · 10:13 AM

Stella, if I only have 12” cast iron skillet, do you think the brownie will be too thin? should I reduce the baking time?


 · Iwan · 

Nov 20, 2012 · 10:13 AM

What a spectacular looking combination. Yep, I’m trying this.
Stella, have you tried brownies with chili powder in them? The taste is to die for!

 · Radhika ·

Nov 20, 2012 · 10:21 AM

@Dinaz, I haven’t tried it with almond flour, but I feel good about the substitution working out nicely. Let me know how you like it!

@Iwan, I’d definitely cut back the bake time and keep a close eye on ‘em. If you want, multiply all of the ingredients by 1.5 so you can make a batch that’s a little bigger so your brownies don’t turn out too thin.

@Radhika, indeed! I love me some hot n’ spicy chocolate!


Nov 20, 2012 · 11:12 AM

Congratulations—you’re the best thing I’ve ever seen on Fox News! That faint praise aside, the brownies, the cake and you all looked grand.

 · Michelle ·

Nov 20, 2012 · 11:24 AM

I used almond flour and 1/4 tsp more salt. I also added 1/4 tsp espresso powder. I tasted the batter. Absolutely wicked!!! I didnt add any nuts or pumpkin seeds though I did add pumpkin. Its in the oven right now. It is coming with me for coffee this morning when I visit my cake buddies. Coffee, warm pumpkin brownies and good friends. Can it get any better?

 · Dinaz · 

Nov 20, 2012 · 11:44 AM

I’m a total fan of the brownie in wedge slice form. And emerald green crunchy embellishments…yes! You speak dessert (my native language) so beautifully. Happy Thanksgiving and congratulations!

 · fatpiginthemarket ·

Nov 20, 2012 ·  5:49 PM

@Michelle, haha, I’ll take whatever praise I can get.

@Dinaz, omg, made and reviewed before noon! That’s the coolest ever. Good call on the espresso, too. Hope your cake buddies approved!

@fatpiginthemarket, happy Thanksgiving to you too!!


Nov 20, 2012 ·  8:06 PM

Hey Stella,
I really wanted to see your demo but unfortunately I was at work when it aired. Is there anywhere I can watch it online?
Luis =)

 · Luis · 

Nov 20, 2012 · 10:10 PM

This brownie was so wickedly delicious! My cake buddies loved it! Wonder what would happen if I used peanut butter instrad of the pumpkin puree!! Hmmmm! Happy Thanksgiving to you snd yours.

 · Dinaz · 

Nov 21, 2012 ·  9:59 AM

Hi Luis! You sure can, it’s right here.

@Dinaz, I haven’t tried peanut butter (how is this possible?!), I will let you know if I do, now that my curiosity is piqued.


Nov 21, 2012 ·  2:42 PM

These look right on— and I was just mocking my (non American) boyfriend for suggesting we make brownies for Thanksgiving (I know, not nice).
Is there a particular reason you use a mix of bar chocolate and cocoa powder in your brownies? This year I switched to all-cocoa powder brownies (via Alice Medrich) and I haven’t looked back, but I’m sure you have a reason for using both, no?

 · Eva ·

Nov 21, 2012 ·  5:47 PM

Brownies in a cast iron pan are so good! I love the look of the pumpkin seeds.

 · Dana ·

Nov 22, 2012 · 12:53 PM

Hi Eva. Absolutely! There’s always a method to my madness. Chocolate and cocoa are, while made from the same plant, two fundamentally different ingredients, each delivering a different sort of chocolate flavor. Using all of one or the other can make a darned tasty brownie (or cake or whatever) but using both adds a greater complexity to the flavor. Bar chocolates also contribute texturally, as they contain more fat, so they help create that fudgey quality most of us love so much.

Thanks, Dana! Happy Thanksgiving.


Nov 24, 2012 · 10:07 AM

I adore the addition of the pumpkin seeds, Thanksgiving never has enough chocolate, this would be an excellent addition to the table!

 · Tracy ·

Nov 24, 2012 · 12:54 PM

Hi Tracy! Seriously, Thanksgiving needs more chocolate. It’s our patriotic duty.


Nov 26, 2012 ·  7:37 AM

These are seriously fudgy and amazing. I took them to a very early Christmas party. Used Valrhona cocoa and Manjari chocolate and skipped the pumpkin. Also, since I did not have enough hazelnut flour on hand, I did a half and half. These will be this year’s Christmas gift.

 · calli · 

Nov 26, 2012 ·  8:42 AM

Hi calli! Omg, any kitchen where Valhrona cocoa and Manjari are just hangin’ aro und is a kitchen destined for success. Sounds awesome! I’m so happy they were a hit for you.


Nov 28, 2012 ·  3:54 PM

Delicious! I replaced the butter with pumpkin and some unsweetened applesauce and it turned out fantastic!

 · Debs · 

Nov 29, 2012 ·  9:09 AM

@Debs, thanks for reporting back on your modifications and success, that’s great!


Dec 02, 2012 ·  6:32 AM

My family was WOWED by these brownies at Thanksgiving. The ginger gave the brownies a wonderful spicy bite. These are fantastic and I will be making them again for any occasion.

 · Cynthia · 

Dec 03, 2012 · 10:27 PM

Brilliant! Will have to try these using Xylitol since I am sugar-free! Thanks!

 · CookinguptheCure ·

Dec 04, 2012 ·  1:50 PM

All brownies are good but this one looks really special!!!

 · lapiubelladitutte ·

Dec 05, 2012 ·  9:46 AM

Hi Cynthia, yay! I’m so happy to hear it! You can double the recipe to fit it in a traditional rectangular brownie pan, too.

Hi CookinguptheCure! You’ll have to let me know how they turn out, I haven’t experimented with sugar substitutes very much, I’d love to know how it goes for you.

Hi lapiubelladitutte. Haha, I agree. There are no bad brownies!


Mar 15, 2017 · 11:49 AM

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 · Augusto de Arruda Botelho ·

Jun 03, 2017 ·  7:44 AM

Hi, you are awesome! Question on these yummy brownies: you don’t mention pre-heating the cast iron pan. Is that necessary for this recipe? Thanks!

 · Tiggermarie · 


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