Pumpkin-Cayenne Brownies

So. Last week was a down week in terms of running. I ran 15 miles total and it felt really weird. It had been almost a year since my mileage dropped that low and I definitely felt out of sorts. Rest weeks are necessary and I definitely appreciated the extra time and flexibility in my schedule, but when the body and mind are so used to a routine…it can throw you for a loop. I missed the deep sleep that comes after a long run, I missed my voracious appetite, I missed running dates with friends. But today is Monday, the return to training, and 56 days until a sub-1:30 half marathon. GULP.

I’m still running by feel this week (don’t want to jump into things too soon) – but things are gonna get serious next Monday. 70-80 mpw, are you ready for me?

One of the upsides to not running much lately, is that I’ve had more time to play around in the kitchen. I made a version of these brownies last year – they’re inspired by a Smitten Kitchen recipe. But this time I changed things up a bit. If you like chocolate and spicy things – you should probably go buy a can of pumpkin and make these tonight.

Pumpkin-Cayenne Brownies (makes 16 squares)


  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 6 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1 glug of canola oil (1-2 Tbs ?)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 8″ baking pan.
  • Melt chocolate and butter together in the microwave for 30 second intervals. Stir between intervals.
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in another bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until well combined.  Beat in flour mixture.
  • Divide batter between two medium bowls. Stir chocolate mixture into one bowl and  stir in pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the other. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat layers – pumpkin should be your final layer.
  • With a small butter knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect.
  • Bake for about 45 minutes, depending on oven. Cool in pan, on a wire rack.

Notes: These definitely have a spicy kick to them – if you’re scurred, use a little less than 1/4 tsp of cayenne. And they’re sort of cakey vs. fudgey. Next time, I will reduce the eggs to 3 and maybe bump up the canola oil to create a fudgier texture.

Also, I had one of these bad boys for breakfast this morning.

Because pumpkin for breakfast (in any form) is completely acceptable September through November.

In other news, I’m glad you guys were excited about the Lollihop giveaway! I’m in the process of partnering with them for some exciting things. Later this month, they’re launching an interactive online magazine (I’m going to contribute some articles on snacking and running!) and soon there might even be a discount in the works for Runner’s Kitchen readers.

I strive to be honest with product mentions and reviews on the blog – I won’t accept samples or give-aways from a company that I don’t believe in. Sometimes I get emails from companies and they go immediately into the “trash” folder (ahem diet food companies ahem), so even though Lollihop sponsored last week’s give-away and sent me free goodies, I would definitely use my own dolla dolla bills. If you are enamored by the snack box subscription idea, use referral code Megan-runnerskitchen and hopefully they”ll be able to hook you up with a discount in the future!

Anyway, the winner of the Lollihop give-away is Anna from Blue Plate  Special! Congrats Anna – email your mailing info to runnerskitchen [at] gmail [dot] com

Now, tell me – what’s your favorite way to enjoy pumpkin? Besides humping it, of course.

  • I love you for that last link. I’d love you more if those brownies appeared in front of me now. They look amazing!

  • Lolz lolz lolz at the Organic Onion link. My favorite ways to enjoy pumpkin are in desserts and in coffee.

    I’m not a fan of spicy things, but I will totally be making those brownies sans cayenne pepper! 🙂 They look delish. I made your pumpkin cookies again last night (this time with milk chocolate chips) and totally had some with my coffee this morning. I’m thinking about trying them with Nutella and bringing to a Halloween party next month. 🙂

    P.S. Thanks so much for the input re: racing while marathon training, esp. the part about there being as many different options as there are runners– so true!

  • It’s got to be in pie! Your brownies look delicious, I’m going to try them out.

  • Mmm… excellent suggestion on oil. I prefer a fudgy brownie, but overall I think I’ll bake those next weekend!

    (Wish I had read this a couple of hours ago… I just used my can of pumpkin to make pumpkin-oatmeal bread with chocolate chips and walnuts. This means AWESOME breakfasts for the next week! But it also means I’ll have to buy another can of pumpkin to try the brownies.) 😉

  • Anonymous

    If you can have brownies for breakfast, I can have candy corn & red wine for dinner, right? Good, now I don’t feel so bad 😉

    I’m a big of of making veggie & bean soups with some canned pumpkin thrown in. Great way to thicken the soup and add some extra goodness.


    I think the canned stuff is pretty nasty, but it does look pretty all swirled up with chocolate, there.

    Enjoy your easy week(s) of running!

  • Tamara @31dates

    I’m not much of a baker, nor do I ever feel too inspired to bake or cook from seeing posts — but this time, I don’t know what happened! I read your post, headed to the grocery store and BOUGHT PUMPKIN! Way to inspire! Now if I can just fit in my run today…

  • YES! awesome! I am going to snack the shit out of that box of snacks.

  • Anonymous

    those look so delicious! And they are also pretty. I’m going to bake my first thing with pumpkin this weekend, and it better effing feel like fall by then.

    I miss you!! I hope we can hang/run soon!

  • I’ve never used pumpkin, but I do enjoy myself a pumpkin-spice latte! Maybe I’ll try these bad boys out for the ol’ bake sale. That is, if they make it there before I eat them ALL.

  • Anonymous

    a few years ago i made pumpkin mac and cheese – you reminded me that i need to make something savory soon! yumm chili. now, if only the weather would cooperate and feel like Fall…

  • Anonymous

    hooray! i’m so happy you might make these brownies. i just ate two and can confirm that they are worth the effort 🙂

  • These look so tasty! I have never though of adding cayenne to baked goods…it must add such a wonderful flavor!

  • Lukus


  • Erin Cochran

    Pumpkin fav #1: Pumpkin layer cheesecake with gingersnap crust, which is basically The Best Thing Ever. I make it every Thanksgiving and ditch the pumpkin pie.

    Pumpkin fav #2: Some kind of veggie stew with lots of spices.

    Those brownies look delish!

  • pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream.  or pumpkin bread with butter.  or roasted with cinnamon.  yum.  it *almost* makes me excited about fall!

    ps i am still hacking up my lungs (hello, i’m attractive) and then going out of town tomorrow, but if these beautiful brownies stick around till the weekend, can i come over for one? i’ll bring you wine. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I demand you get better ASAP! I need a BK wine and cocktail buddy…I mean, healthy living buddy 🙂
    Even If the brownies don’t make it through the weekend, I plan to bake again soon! Mostly to use up the eggs and butter that were left in my open fridge (omg) all day yesterday. A good excuse to bake again, I think!

  • Caetie

    Loving the looks of this, but I am not seeing the yogurt in the ingredients list… what’s the quantity? Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    oops! good catch. there’s actually no yogurt in this version of the recipe – I used 2 Tbs of canola oil instead. you could also use 1/4 cup of greek yogurt – that’s what I did the last time I baked these 🙂

  • I love myself a good old-fashioned pumpkin pie. I’m liking the addition of the cayenne pepper in this recipe1 The brownies look delicious

  • I love myself a good old-fashioned pumpkin pie. I’m liking the addition of the cayenne pepper in this recipe1 The brownies look delicious

  • Oh man- those look serious!  I love the spicy with the chocolate. It was a combo I didn’t understand until much later in life. But now it’s all love…

  • These sound amazing! I bought 4 cans of pumpkin last night. I’ve already used one to make pumpkin bread and now I know what I’ll be using my next one for. I’ll admit I am one of those bloggers who adds pumpkin to everything during the fall (but I don’t actually blog about doing it, so maybe that gets me off the hook…a little?) because I really just love it. But I’m simple when it comes to my favorite pumpkin dishes – pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin pie are at the top of the list.

  • Anonymous

    I LOVE pumpkin.  I cook with it throughout the year, but only bake dishes for social functions with it in the fall, lol.  Some of my pumpkin favorites include pumpkin oatmeal and your pumpkin chocolate chip bread and iced pumpkin cookies, mmm so good.  I just made some pumpkin oatmeal to go bars which made for a good pre or post workout snack.  Those pumpkin brownies look delicious.  I might have to go easy on the spice though as I’m kind of a whimp when it comes to spicy foods!

  • JoeK

    pumpkin beer and pumpkin gelato!  that’s how I roll

  • My mom’s homemade pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting. Tasting it means that fall has arrived 🙂

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  • Meghan

    I made these brownies yesterday, and they’re awesome! I used three eggs, per your suggestion, and two tbsp. of canola oil. Used whole wheat pastry flour and chipotle pepper because that was all I had on hand. They’re delicious and super-fudgy.

  • My friend and I made these tonight and added a glaze on top! (Powdered sugar,cinnamon, cocoa powder, water and heated then poured). These brownies are so delicious! Thanks for the recipe!