October 20th, 2011

Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf

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Serves 12

This loaf is dense, chocolaty and moist, with undertones of pumpkin and autumnal spices laced throughout. It’s also lower in fat than most dessert loaves, with only 2 tablespoons of oil in the batter. To add to the chocolatiness, I threw in some chocolate chips, and you may like to add other yummy things, like pecans or walnuts. But I’ll take my chocolate straight up, please!

There’s a funny little method with boiling water in this recipe and you may wonder why I use it. The answer is simple: I don’t exactly know. Well, I know why I use it, but I’m not positive why it works. What you do is add boiling water alternately as you add the dry ingredients to wet. I was introduced to this method in Nigella’s monumental book “How To Be A Domestic Goddess” with her recipe for a chocolate loaf cake, and I’ve used it ever since. I’ve tried to disobey it, thinking it was frivolous and unneeded, only to be greeted by a loaf whose crumb was not as fine and rise was not as perfectly formed. And so I’ve stopped fighting it. Maybe it has to do with the baking soda, I don’t know, just use it.

I love this loaf still a little bit warm, but anyway you slice it (har har) it will be delicious and no one will guess that it’s lower in fat.

PS I have a feeling that people will ask if they can make this in muffin tins, so let me get that out of the way. You can! I haven’t tried it, but I think you’re gonna’ want to fill the cups 3/4 of the way (you might not get 12, but let me know) and bake for about 20 minutes.

PPS I also have a feeling people will ask if they can completely omit the oil. I prefer a little fat in my baked goods, but I bet that subbing it with applesauce would be just dandy.

1/4 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or canola oil)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons boiling water, divided (see note)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly grease an 8 inch loaf pan. Also, boil some water in a tea kettle (no need to measure yet.)

Put applesauce, coconut oil and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, spices, baking soda and salt.

Measure out 1/3 cup boiling water and pour into the bowl with the chocolate mixture, mixing quickly to make a smooth chocolate sauce. Add pumpkin, sugar and vanilla and mix well.

Dump about half of the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture and gently stir just to incorporate, then measure out 1 tablespoon of boiling water and stir again. Now add the rest of the flour mixture and another tablespoon of boiling water and stir just until smooth. Take care not to overmix. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. It will be good and thick. You can smooth the top out with a spatula.

Bake for 55 minutes to an hour. Stick a steak knife into the center of the loaf to check for doneness. A little bit of wetness is okay since it could be from a chocolate chip, but the knife should come out mostly dry.

Let cool for 10 minutes, then invert pan and place loaf on a cooling rack to cool most of the way. It’s yummy a little bit warm, or thoroughly cooled. Slice and serve!

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