Sunday, November 2, 2008

The taste of autumn

When temperatures start dropping and leaves start turning a bright red, orange and yellow, it not only feels like autumn, it looks like it too. But here, the temperatures are still above 80 and it always looks like summer.

Didn't the trees get the memo? Leaves are supposed to change colors! The landscape is supposed to look like this picture...

Above is a picture I took in North Carolina at this time of year two years ago. Instead, out of my backyard, this is what I see today...

Don't get me wrong, I think palm trees are beautiful and I enjoy very much having them in our landscaping. But, they certainly don't announce any change of season. So, what's a girl to do? Well, I decided that since I don't have the feel of autumn around me (with temperatures in the 80's!), and I don't get to see autumn make its arrival with leaves changing colors, I would taste it instead.

To some people, autumn may taste like a pumpkin pie, or an apple pie, or a sweet potato pie. To me, it's not so much a pie but more like a pumpkin brownie. But, I wouldn't want to offend Martha by calling it a brownie: officially, it's her pumpkin chocolate chip square. Just to set the record straight.

And I made a batch today. Yes I did, I tasted autumn!

I've been making these for a couple of years now and I have to admit that, even though I didn't used to be a big pumpkin fan, these have won me over. They're delicious and bring out the "it's finally autumn!" feeling in me. I hope you'll enjoy them too, so here's the recipe:

Martha Stewart's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 12-oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the bottom and sides of a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving the foil extending over the short sides of the pan. (She doesn't say to do this, but at this point, I spray some Pam on the bottom and sides of the pan. It's a habit I can't shake!) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, pie spice, baking soda and salt. Then set aside.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in the egg and the vanilla until combined. Beat in the pumpkin puree (the mixture may appear curdled, don't be alarmed if it does.) Reduce the speed to low, and get your bowl of dry ingredients. Add them to the wet ingredients until just combined, so be careful not to overdo it. Lastly, fold in the chocolate chips using a spatula.

Spread the batter evenly in the pan and bake for 35 minutes or so, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Cool completely in the pan, for about 2 hours.

Lift the cake from the pan using the foil handles, peel off the foil and cut into 24 squares. Enjoy autumn! :)


chickadee@afamiliarpath said...

we're going to take a drive next weekend and hopefully find some beautiful foliage. thanks for visting my blog.

Teresa said...

Funny, our "fall" looks very similar to yours!! We must live in the same neck of the woods!! :) Thanks for stopping by my blog! I've enjoyed yours and will stop by often... can't wait to taste those pumpkin squares. I'm a sucker for anything pumpkin!! :)

Tricia said...

Thanks for visiting my blog today. Living in central Fl, my autumn looks like yours, and I cope the same baking spice cookies and pumpkin bread :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your comments on my Christmas blog! I've added your blog to my "followers" list - and I LoVe how you got your blog name inspiration!

Hayley said...

Thanks for visiting my blog!
Just been reading yours...LOVE your tea room, by the way.
And anything with Martha's name attached is bound to be good!
Will keep popping in:-)

Jenn said...

Up here in the north a lot of our leaves have hit the ground, but it was beautiful while it lasted!

You have some wonderful recipes on your blog. Those pumpkin bars look scrumptious. I'm going to have to try those!

Thanks for the comment you left on my blog. I hope you come back soon! I love making new friends!

Holly said...

Thanks for the recipe, Melody! I've been seeing a lot of non- traditional pumpkin recipes around the Internet lately. I should be brave and try one!

~ Hearts ~

Lib said...

We live in the Smokies(Mtns.) we are BLESSED!
Thanks for the recipe!
Have agreat day!

the voice of melody said...

"Shoulda Been A Belle", thanks for adding my blog to your list. How sweet of you! :)

Susanne said...

Definitely a way to bring in fall. I've never heard of pumpkin brownies. I'll be giving these a try.

Miss Jean said...

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. We are actually getting some fall weather in our neck of the woods. Because of where I live in central Califoria, often times we go from summer right to winter. Fall is one of my favorite times of the year and pumpkin on of my favorite flavors. Is there pumpkin ice cream in my freezer? You betcha! I'll for sure try the brownies.

I love your tea room and wish I could wander over for a chat.

Welcome to blog land.

Adventures In Babywearing said...

That looks delicious! I must make those! And I am DEFINITELY enjoying fall here in the midwest. One of the best things about living here. Although I would enjoy some warmer temps!


Miss Jean said...

Go check out my blog. I put a welcome on it to you!

Kathi~Lavender, Lace and Thyme said...

Hello Melody,

It was so nice to see you drop by, very warm comments, thank you!

I see we share a lot of the same interests, I'm excited to meet you and see what you'll be up to. Our fall has arrived and there is talk of cold and snow by the end of the week, we shall see. I love the palm trees :).

Have a wonderful evening!
Kathi :)

Susan B said...

The recipe looks very yummy! I love anything pumpkin. I also enjoy baking at this time of year. Thank you for sharing it.

We are just beginning to have cooler temperatures, and the leaves are starting to turn color on the trees. I think autumn has arrived!

Gretchen said...

You're making it awfully hard for me to want to adhere to my diet. :)

Oh, those look luscious.

And, when you're lamenting the look of fall, just take a dip in the pool. We have pretty trees here in the NW, but it's "winter" now. Rainy and dark.

Raise Them Up said...

These look wonderful! I'll be printing out the recipe and hoping to find the time to make them soon!

Although this is my first visit, I've thoroughly enjoyed reading at your place today, and hope to visit often!

By the way, once our leaves are gone, we'll all be wishing we were your neighbors!

LAUREN at Faith Fuel said...

Delicious and inspiring! Now I want to bake something!

Mommy Magee said...

Thanks for visiting! YUM!!! I really enjoyed the two different autumn pictures BUT then I saw the dessert photo and that looked even better. lol
Happy Autumn!!!

Armchair Housewife said...

Ooooh... those look tasty! Thanks for stopping by my blog while I was in Bermuda. I do have pictures of the trip up now, we had lots of fun!

I have to say, I know what you're feeling about the changing of the seasons. I was a military kid growing up, and we spent most of our time in North Carolina, Arizona, and Hawaii, none of which are known for their beatiful falls. :) I used to miss the changing of the seasons awful, and right before we moved from Hawaii, when I was 18, i swore I never saw another palm tree again I'd die happy.

But, it just goes to show that the grass is greener, because know that I live in the north east, while I do love the fall, I *hate* the winter. i hate how dark it gets, how cold it is, the tons of snow we get, the ice on everything... just yuck. So... it's a trade off. I know if I lived in Hawaii again I'd get sick of no seasons, but in the dead of winter I would probably trade places without being asked twice. :)

God bless and I am enjoying your blog!


Becky said...


The Butterfly Catcher said...

We make a similar goody here at my place: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins!! All of my guys love them, so we bake them almost weekly!

I happen to have two cans of pumpkin puree in my pantry just waiting for your recipe!

If you're interested in experimenting, here's a link to my recipe:

Autumn Blessings to Ya!!

RoyalTLady said...


TQ for visiting and passed comments.

...if I may add a little...
the palm trees in this picture are actually coconut trees (as we call them here in Malaysia).

We have plentiful of them by the beach and also some small holders planted them for commercial values.
The coconut milk is extracted and sold in the form of packed thick milk or in powder forms. We Asians, use a lot of them in our cooking.

The bottom inner part of the tree has got tender and succulent edible 'umbut' as we called it. Am not too sure in English word.... But they could be cooked as pickled "umbut" or cook in coconut milk as a vegetable dish.

The juice inside the coconut itself could be drank to quench your thirst. It is very refreshing.

The husk could be used in orchid planting. The shell could turn into activated carbon to purify waters.

The middle part of the leaves called "lidi" could be used as a broom. The leaves are removed using small knife and the clean "lidi" are tied together (fastened with strings) into the size of our fist and turn into a broom.

The young leaves are woven into square shaped box-like and used to put in glutenous rice or plain rice . Which is later boiled in coconut milk or plain water. These are normally prepared for festive seasons such as Eid ul Fitri and Eid dul Adha. They are eaten with beef or chicken special dish called "rendang".