I have been meaning for several years to come up with a ridiculous dessert that incorporates ALL of fall in one swoop: the spices, the pumpkin, the ginger, the nuts, the cranberries, the apples. This one comes pretty darned close and with some tweaks, we could make some room in the pan for all these players. Inspired by Debbie Koenig's Cranberry Snack cake, which is something of a riff on blondies, I set to work on something with pumpkin and cranberries. But did I stop there? Oh no, of course not. I kept on going until nearly every fall ingredient was included. Nearly. (Omitted: Nuts, which are easily added next time and apples, which I may just grate into the batter on second go-round.) This is dense and even better on the second day. If you want it to rise, I'd add 1/2 tsp. or less of baking soda, but that just opens another can of worms I'm not going to commit to here--fudgy vs. cakey brownies and blondies. Focus!
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp. ginger
- 1/4 tsp. cloves
- 1/4 tsp. allspice
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted organic butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 T. molasses
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 cup fresh cranberries, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup diced crystallized ginger
- Turbinado sugar or other coarse sugar, for dusting on top
Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit and either butter and flour a 8-inch square baking dish or press a sheet of foil into the dish and spray that with nonstick spray (it's easier than buttering foil.)
Combine all the dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl (or via double boiler). Let it cool for a few minutes so that when you whisk in the egg, you don't accidentally scramble it. Whisk in the egg for about 30 seconds, then add the brown sugar, molasses and pumpkin, whisking to combine. Fold in the dry ingredients, switching to a spatula for this part of the job. Add the cranberries and ginger and mix until it's all just combined.
Using your spatula, spread the batter in the pan as evenly as you can. Sprinkle the demarara or turbinado sugar on top. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until the middle is set and doesn't look darker than the rest of it. (You want it solid and not gooey, but not overbaked.) Let it cool for 1/2 hour or so at least on a wire rack, and then cut into 9 roughly equal sized squares. Or, as is more common in my house, a haphazard fashion depending on who the recipient is. (There are always "Daddy-sized" portions at play here.)