spiced pumpkin chocolate brownie recipe (gluten + lactose-free)

I came so close to calling this a cake. It's more cake-like than brownie you see. But the recipe that inspired mine came from none other than Martha Stewart, and she called it a brownie. So who am to argue?

That being said though people, go into making this expecting to eat cake. Sure, the pockets of chocolate mixture are brownie-like in their dense nature and intense chocolate flavour. But half of the mixture gets turned into a lovely spiced pumpkin cake, which is then swirled through in alternating layers, resulting in... well, brownie cake?

This is not a bad thing mind you. Chocolate, spice, pumpkin and hazelnuts can never be a bad thing. Trust me.

Pumpkin puree is something I always have on hand. Not in the canned form mind you. We don't have that down in these parts of the world, and to be honest I'm not sure I'd buy it even if it was on offer. Instead whenever I have a pumpkin hanging about, I roast or steam a heap of it. Puree it in the processor, portion it into 1 cup measurements and freeze in small containers or pressed flat in zip-lock plastic bags. It can easily be defrosted overnight in the fridge. Or if like me you forget to plan ahead more often than not, it can be gently warmed in a pot over low heat until defrosted, then cooled before using.

I've found this 'brownie-cake' is quite nice eaten cold, but even better if left to chill and firm up in the fridge overnight. Serve in small slices as is or cut into squares and serve as cake with softly whipped cream, if tolerated.

If you find yourself with left over pumpkin puree and are keen to bake some more. Check out these two recipes from the archives that use roasted pumpkin puree. Steamed would work just fine too.

P.s Thank you all for your well-wishes. My bite has healed beautifully! I don't want to ever go through that again... so it's back to checking the sheets for spiders before bed every night.

spiced pumpkin chocolate brownie
I made this using homemade ghee, which is naturally lactose-free. But if you prefer you can use butter or natural dairy-free margarine. I haven't tried it yet, but I imagine virgin coconut oil would be beautiful in place of the rice bran or olive oil, just warm it enough to be liquid if using. And if you are feeling rich, you could always use coconut oil in place of both the ghee and the rice bran oil in this recipe. If you have hazelnut meal, this would be lovely in place of the almond meal. I like to use Whittaker's 72% Dark Ghana chocolate, which is dairy-free.
makes 15 generous slices

  • 120g (8 tablespoons) ghee or butter if tolerated
  • 170g dark chocolate (dairy-free)
  • 1 cup (120g) fine brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup (60g) quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup (55g) almond meal (ground almonds)
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) organic raw sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree*
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) rice bran oil or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F. Grease a 18x28cm slice tin or 23cm (9 inch) round cake tin. Line the base with baking paper.

Place ghee (or butter) and chocolate into a small pan, heat gently over medium heat, stirring constantly until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Sieve flours, almond meal, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Tipping any bits of almond meal that won't got through the sieve. Whisk flours to thoroughly incorporate. Set aside.

Place eggs, vanilla and sugar into a large bowl and whisk with hand-held electric mixer until thick and creamy. Whisk in flour mixture. Divide mixture between two medium bowls. Stir chocolate mixture into one bowl. And add pumpkin, oil, cinnamon and nutmeg to the other bowl.  Pour half the chocolate mixture into the greased slice tin, smooth off top with a spoon or spatula then top with half of the pumpkin mixture. Repeat with remaining chocolate and pumpkin mixtures. Using a small knife, swirl the two batters together to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle the top with chopped hazelnuts. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until set and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of it. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin. You can eat at room temperature, or if preferred chill in the fridge for a few hours before cutting into squares.

* To make pumpkin puree, steam chunks of peeled pumpkin until tender. Puree in food processor until smooth and use straight away or freeze in portions for later use.

Inspired by this Martha Stewart recipe.

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  • The InTolerant Chef
    May 19, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Ooh, this looks amazing indeed! I love the combination of flavours. I have hundreds of zippy bags full of purees too, they come in so handy don't they? 🙂 glad you're feeling better

    • emma
      May 20, 2012 at 7:55 am

      Thanks love xx

  • sleepinghorse
    May 19, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Wonderful recipe. Thanks for this. Shame I don't have any pumpkin at the mo but it'll be on my grocery list so I can try this next time.

  • Domestic Executive
    May 19, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    I am going to have to get onto a pumpkin frenzy having pulled 8 out of the garden this week. Pie, cake, soups, curries, salads, pizza…..might just take your tip and going the puree route to make it easy :o)

  • Mara
    May 20, 2012 at 12:46 am

    why oh why did my oven die the other day?! I MUST make this…I wonder who would be happy to have a bake day at their house? Haha!
    Glad your eye is healing up well Emm I hope it is something you never have to experience again in your life be it your body or those close to you xx

    • emma
      May 20, 2012 at 7:57 am

      Thanks Mara, me too! I'm sure you could talk someone into letting you use their oven for an hour… especially if you promise to share 🙂

  • timeforalittlesomething.com
    May 20, 2012 at 12:55 am

    Yum, this looks terrific! Pumpkins or so cheap at the moment, I'd been wondering what else to do with them. This cake looks like the answer!

  • Mairi @ Toast
    May 20, 2012 at 3:11 am

    What a great way to use pumpkin…I guess that means this could count as one of our 5+ a day 🙂 And for me it most definitely beats pumpkin soup!!

    • emma
      May 20, 2012 at 7:57 am

      Haha, good try Mairi 😉

  • fiona verity
    May 20, 2012 at 4:25 am

    Just finished making this and burnt my tongue as could not wait to taste it… Yuma ..
    I will be making it again for sure. I used spelt flour in place of quinoa as we are dairy free but not gluten free.
    I love your blog and your recipes are fantastic keep it up ! Do u have any more recipes for pumpkin purée as I have some left…

  • erin @ yummy supper
    May 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Emma, So sorry to hear about your bite. I am such a believer in coloidal silver too. It is miraculous stuff.
    And of course here you are with more deliciousness to share. Every time I come here for a visit, I wish I could actually be in your kitchen, tasting everything you make:)

  • e / dig in hobart
    May 20, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    you have confirmed that the next cake i bake is going to be of the chocolate persuasion!

  • Blandine
    May 21, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Your cake looks so beautiful!

  • Heidi Addington
    May 21, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Am.a.z.i.n.g. I just cooked it and I am in food heaven. Em your recipes continue to inspire!

    • emma
      May 21, 2012 at 11:39 am

      Thank you! So glad you've made this already and enjoyed it 🙂

  • Jacquie
    May 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Have been making this at the restaurant for the past few years and your right nobody thinks it's a brownie,but became a favorite.I love that it gets better with age,stays so moist,so good with a cup of tea.lovely

  • Sherilyn @ Wholepromise
    May 22, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Loving all the ingredients in this cake. It truly sounds delightful!

  • idiosyncraticeye
    May 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    That looks yummy, pumpkin is in short supply around here too. The colours remind me of a marble cake and it does look dryer than brownie. 🙂

  • Mother Rimmy
    May 23, 2012 at 3:48 am

    My future daughter law eats gluten and lactose free. She's an amazing baker. I'm passing this recipe along to her to make for me! 🙂

  • Christina
    June 8, 2012 at 2:10 am

    I just moved to the side of the world where canned pumpkin IS available and pumpkins aren't! I feel the same about canned as you do – what to do!? Note: they actually laughed at me when I asked where the pumpkins are. These North Americans.. they only have them at halloween!

    • emma
      June 8, 2012 at 2:52 am

      Funny eh? Although I'm pretty sure what we call pumpkins they call squash? Like Butternut… we call it pumpkin, they call it squash. I think?

  • Christina
    June 8, 2012 at 2:10 am

    Oh, my rambling aside – what a beautiful 'cake'! Love the marble and, as always, love any treat stuffed with vegetables 🙂

  • Marie-Anne
    June 9, 2012 at 9:39 am

    This recipe is just soooo beautiful. Such a yummy cake, perfect for Halloween in a way. I'm definitely trying that out with a nice hot tea. Thank you!

  • Taylor
    September 29, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    In stead of using quinoa flour could I use 1 1/2 cups of brown rice flour whilst still using the almond meal? Think the texture would could out the same without using the quinoa flour? Thank you!

    • emma
      September 30, 2012 at 2:43 am

      Try it out! I add quinoa flour for added nutrients, and haven't made it with just rice flour and almond meal. Let me know if you do and it turns out great.

  • Taylor
    October 2, 2012 at 6:56 am

    I might try making my own quinoa flour because for it already ground, it's quite expensive. Will do, recipe looks delicious!

  • Anonymous
    January 29, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    Shut-the-door good. Can't stop eating these brownies. I will have to give them to the neighbors to get them out of the house!! I used a home made gluten free mix to sub for the quinoa while using everything else in the recipe the same. Turned out great.

    • emma
      January 30, 2013 at 12:41 am

      🙂 Yay! So glad you love them xx

  • mihi
    February 2, 2013 at 2:58 am

    Yummmmmmmmmmmm I am not gluten/dairy or meat free but love trying new ways of baking!

  • Anonymous
    February 16, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    hi! i am wondering if you could use butternut squash in place of pumpkin in this recipe?

    • emma
      February 17, 2013 at 1:54 am

      Absolutely. xx

  • Anonymous
    July 28, 2013 at 3:51 am

    I made this recipe and it was a big hit! Even the non gluten free people were surprised to know that pumpkin could work in a brownie.

    • emma
      July 28, 2013 at 4:04 am

      It's great eh? So glad you all liked it! xx