The new roommate situation was especially disconcerting to me because I loved Hank and my one-on-one time at his apartment. We regularly got together to watch “How I Met Your Mother,” to order embarrassing movies like Twilight, and for me to rant and stew about the latest irritant in my life. I didn’t want some other girl interfering in our special time – laughing at all the wrong moments or talking right during the punch line of Tina Fey’s sandwich-related joke on “30 Rock.” It never occurred to me that I might actually like the intruder, and that we would immediately become good friends/Target buddies.
This past Thursday night, after a hard day working for the man, I hijacked my male friend’s roommate to make Esi’s (Dishing Up Delights) pumpkin swirl brownies. I crossed the street like I’ve done a hundred times, bounded up the stairs that I could ascend with my eyes closed, and strode into Erin’s – not Hank’s – apartment. I came bearing wine, flour, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate chips, baking powder, and an electric beater. She was ready for me with wine glasses, eggs, butter, pumpkin puree, bittersweet chocolate, parchment paper, and lots of utensils that we would subsequently make very dirty.
While Erin tackled the chocolate layer – which required melting butter and chocolate together in a double broiler (we used a glass bowl and a pot), I got started on the batter. We worked in tandem, deftly assisting the other without (completely) getting in each other’s ways. She measured out the pumpkin and oil for the pumpkin batter, I yelled at her for wanting to lick the bowl (but let her do it anyway because that’s what friends are for), and then we proudly assembled our pumpkin brownies layer by layer. Well, fine, just layer on top of layer – we both concluded that the chocolate layer, pumpkin layer, chocolate layer, pumpkin layer scenario was overkill. We’re rebels like that.
Erin and I were so busy baking and chatting and breaking recipe rules that we hardly noticed when Hank came home mid-way through our kitchen session. It was a striking moment for me. She wasn’t the intruder – he was. But we let him stick around for a few minutes anyway before he left for a party because apparently it is possible to be friends with more than one person.
Instead of accompanying Hank to the party like we both might have done in different circumstances, Erin and I parked it on the couch, watched “Modern Family,” “Community” and “30 Rock,” and picked at the pumpkin layer that we deemed superior to the chocolate layer in our brownies. It was a nice evening – a land mark event in our burgeoning friendship. Especially since neither of us laughed at the wrong moment or interrupted a punch line during any of the TV shows we watched.
Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
Adapted from Everyday Food via Dishing Up Delights
Makes 16 brownies
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (Erin & I omitted because we don’t like spicy desserts)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Scant 1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*2/3 cup chocolate chips (Erin & my prescient addition)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; butter lining.
Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until fluffy and well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.
Divide batter between two medium bowls (about 2 cups per bowl). Stir chocolate mixture into one bowl. In other bowl, stir in pumpkin, oil, and cinnamon (we added the chocolate chips here!). Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer. Work quickly so batters don't set.
With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect.
Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack.