There’s just something about chai.
Something about a steaming cup of spicy chai that hits all the right notes of ginger, black pepper and cardamom, the boldness of black tea leaves and just a touch of milk and sweetener. Like the kind that chaiwallas serve on Indian train platforms, or the comforting mug accompanying a Parle G biscuit. Throw in a hot samosa, a cold afternoon and a cozy blanket – and we’re talking about one seriously crave-worthy combination that is difficult to match.
Having said that, combining the flavors of chai with chocolate was a little outrageous, even for my standards. Yes, it had been done before, but never in my kitchen. But there was just something, something about infusing ginger, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric (yes that too) with dark chocolate in a brownie that Just. Made. Sense. And adding pumpkin created another layer of suspense that I frankly could not wait to try out.
But first, a quick back story.
Like most of my cooking, this one started with an idea: a dream, even. I woke up knowing I had to make pumpkin brownies. Blame it on the subliminal messaging on social media what with everyone’s PSLs, pumpkin muffins, cookies, cakes, smoothies, dips, butters, mac ‘n cheeses – it had to be done! Looked up a few tested and tried recipes, settled on the basic framework of Ambitious Kitchen’s decadent “One-Bowl Paleo Pumpkin Brownies” and got to work.
As I started to add the blend the wet ingredients together, I scanned through the rest of the recipe and the what-ifs began. What if I added ginger? Wait, what about cardamom? Ooh black pepper! Hang on, surely I’d get away with turmeric? Hmm, chai brownie….must add black tea leaves……
And with that, I give you the Pumpkin Chaiwalla Brownie: a scrummy fudgy spicy Indian square of yum.
Here they are. I was so proud, I took them on a special photo-shoot in the backyard!
(If you’re wondering why they’re so skinny, it’s because I used a larger baking tray (9×13). If you use an 8×8 square one, your brownies will be perfect).
Trying to settle on this recipe’s superstar ingredient was a massive challenge; there were just so many to choose from! But in the interest of time (I know you want this recipe already), I chose almonds. They really do shine in every bite, and take this from being a refined carb, blood-sugar hazard to a (dare-I-say) healthy dessert!
Studies have even shown that adding almonds to a potentially high glycemic index (GI) meal, actually reduces the overall glycemic index of the meal – which means that it keeps your blood sugar nice and steady. On top of that, almonds contain rich amounts of biotin, which supports the production of insulin (again great for your blood sugar); potent antioxidant vitamin E, which cleans up free radical damage; copper which is essential for energy production; and good monosaturated fats, which when combined with the vitamin E have shown to reduce LDL cholesterol!
With this fabulous nutritional profile, it’s no wonder that almonds were recently ranked the #1 most nutritious food in the world. Oi vey!
Pumpkin Chaiwalla Brownies
- ¾ cup pumpkin puree (I used the pulp from a roasted pumpkin)
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp. freshly grated ginger
- ¾ cup almond flour (I made almond-meal by blitzing raw almonds in a chopper)
- 3 tablespoons coconut flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used raw cacao powder)
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- 1-2 tsp. cardamom (I like this strong!)
- 1 tsp. black pepper (you can add ½ tsp if you want less)
- 1 tsp. turmeric (you won’t even know it’s in there)
- 1 tsp. black tea leaves (lightly crushed)
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips
- 1 tbsp. olive oil or unsweetened applesauce (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper (I used a 9x13 inch pan and my brownies became a little skinny).
- In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, maple syrup, eggs, vanilla extract (if using) and grated ginger until smooth.
- Mix in the dry ingredients: almond flour, coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, turmeric, tea leaves and salt until smooth. If the batter is too dry, you can add 1 tbsp. of olive oil or unsweetened applesauce.
- Fold in 1/3 cup chocolate chips. Add batter into prepared pan and spread to the edges. Smooth top with a spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes until knife comes out clean. Brownies will not look completely cooked but as soon as the knife comes out clean, they will be done (mine took 30 minutes).
- Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes and store in the fridge in an airtight container. It will keep for up to a week.