Right outside my window, across the street, a life-size skeleton hangs from a tree. Another sits next to it, hand on bony knee, waiting eternally for an unseen visitor, perhaps? Spiders as big as your head crawl up the windows of another home. And in the neighboring yard a bug-eaten man pops up occasionally from his resting place in the ground, his echoing laugh reminding us that he may be dead but he's not yet gone.
Even if you don't have a taste for the macabre, as clearly everyone in my neighborhood does, how can you not just love Halloween, the colorful time of year when America celebrates ghosts, ghouls, goblins, witches and just about every creepy creature that ever was created to scare the living daylights out of us?
In October fear is in vogue, which is kinda fun for someone like me who has always had a deep fascination with the supernatural (although I am too practical to actually believe in it). As a teen, I'd often sneak out to watch scary movies with my friend Radha (even the bad ones, so long as they had some potential to make you jump out of your seat). And although that fascination is much mellowed down today, I still cannot resist curling up occasionally with a truly scary movie or book, so long as Desi's around.
To read a scary ghost story that featured right here on Holy Cow!, head on here. And if you're looking for more Halloween fun treats, check out this post for my colorful itty-bitty cupcake bites.
As a special Halloween treat for you, I have these Pumpkin Brownie Bars that I baked up over the weekend. They are absolutely delicious. And they are whole wheat. Now imagine that.
I had cans of pumpkin puree in my pantry, bought last year in a fit of ambition when I decided that I was going to feed Opie more pumpkin. But the first time I mixed it in his homemade food, I learned the lesson that you can lead a dog to the pumpkin but you simply cannot make him eat it. So the remaining pumpkin cans waited patiently for human consumption and for something other than the same old same old pumpkin pie.
Your kids-- or your neighbors'-- would love you with all their hearts if you were to feed them these brownies, but they are very adult-friendly too. In fact, they would make perfect Thanksgiving treats. For a fun variation, you could strew the top with little marshmallows instead of nuts.
Here's the recipe. Enjoy, all!
(Makes 16 brownies; Adapted from this recipe)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup packed firm tofu + 2 tbsp non-dairy milk, blended until very smooth
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted vegan butter, like Earth Balance
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Mix the baking powder, salt, and cayenne with the flour. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate chips and butter in a pan set over a pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted and smooth. Set aside.
In another bowl, mix the pumpkin with the oil, cinnamon and nutmeg.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the tofu, sugar and vanilla for about 3 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and homogeneous.
Add the flour and beat it in until it is just mixed. Scrape down the sides with a spatula to mix everything well together.
Pour half the batter into the bowl with the pumpkin mixture. Mix thoroughly so everything is well incorporated.
To the remaining half of the batter, add the chocolate mixture and mix well.
Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, shiny side down. Coat the foil with some vegan butter or oil.
Pour half the chocolate batter into the bottom of the pan. Smooth it out to the corners in an even layer using a rubber spatula.
Pour half the pumpkin batter on top of the chocolate and smooth again.
Repeat with the remaining chocolate batter and finally the remaining pumpkin batter. Make sure you smooth out each layer so its spread evenly. The batter's not very liquid, so its a little like spreading frosting on a cake.
Sprinkle the top with walnuts. Then bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45-50 minutes.
Remove to a rack, cool, then remove from the pan using the foil overhang as handles. Cut and serve.
(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.
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