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Wednesday, January 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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An unabashedly chocolatey pumpkin bread is your next baking project

Chopping the chocolate is worth the effort for this pumpkin bread. (Stacy Zarin Goldberg / For The Washington Post)
Chopping the chocolate is worth the effort for this pumpkin bread. (Stacy Zarin Goldberg / For The Washington Post)
By Dayana Sarkisova Washington Post

Fall is my favorite season, and the moment temperatures begin to drop, I find myself craving the pumpkin flavor and aroma that define autumn. It seems pumpkin is everywhere you turn this time of year – on every porch, in every latte.

That popularity extends to baked goods, too, with plenty of recipes spotlighting everyone’s favorite gourd. So it came as a surprise to me that when I set out to find my perfect pumpkin bread formula as a college student, I was unable to track down a version that had everything I desired.

I was looking for a bread with prominent pumpkin flavor in every bite, a blend of fragrant spices to fill my home and a dense and chewy interior with a crackly crust – one accomplished in this recipe with bites of caramelized sugar and cinnamon that make for a satisfying crunch.

I wanted the recipe to be simple enough for my sad college kitchen with minimal counter space and baking tools. And, finally, I wanted chocolate. Lots of it. After scrolling through dozens of recipes to no avail, I set out to create this elusive treat myself.

My roommates, always eager to eat pumpkin and chocolate, were willing participants as I worked through dozens of iterations until I landed on the equation that follows. It has been a staple of my chilly-weather baking ever since.

Though I graduated from college years ago and left that dilapidated kitchen firmly in the past, I still prefer my baking projects to be relaxed and require minimal cleanup. That’s why this recipe requires only two bowls. While I now use a stand mixer to make this bread, it also can be made with a hand mixer or simply mixed by hand.

If you think chopping a portion of the chocolate feels like an unnecessary extra step, trust me when I say it’s worth it. The finer pieces, speckled throughout the batter, melt into the bread while the bigger chips retain their shape to provide texture and an addictive chocolatey bite.

But perhaps my favorite thing about this bread, as with other quick breads, is that the spice measurements are so customizable. Not a fan of cloves? Leave them out. Want to add nutmeg? Feel free. Love cinnamon? Go crazy! And while you’re at it, sprinkle some more over the top before popping the bread into the oven – then sit back and enjoy the pumpkin spice bliss.

Intensely Chocolatey Pumpkin Bread

A pumpkin classic gets packed with seasonal spices and lots of chocolate. Try it with salted butter for breakfast or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert.

2/3 cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the pan

1 1/2 cups semisweet or dark chocolate chips

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar or more as needed

4 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup pumpkin puree

Generous 1 3/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or more as needed

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with vegetable oil.

Chop about 1/3 of the chocolate chips into small bits, then return them to the remaining chocolate.

With a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a flat beater attachment, combine the granulated and brown sugars, eggs and vanilla. Mix on low speed until smooth, about 1 minute.

Add the pumpkin puree and 2/3 cup of oil and mix on low until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, allspice and cloves until combined.

Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix on medium-low speed until just incorporated and no bits of flour mixture remain. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan and smooth out the top. Sprinkle extra brown sugar and cinnamon on top if desired.

Bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes or until the top of the bread is firm to the touch and springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and a cake tester or wooden pick produces only chocolate when inserted into the bread.

Transfer the loaf pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. To unmold, run a knife around the perimeter of the loaf pan and invert the pan. Slice the bread and serve at room temperature.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

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