For me, nothing signifies the end of summer as poetically and viscerally as seeing pumpkins in a patch. One look at that field and I start salivating for all of my favorite pumpkin dishes.
I love the earthy simplicity of pumpkin pie. And I feel like a pioneer when I wash the seeds that I have taken out of my carved pumpkin and roast them. No surprise, but that was always my favorite part of carving a pumpkin when I was a kid! Pumpkin and sage also dress up cheese grits this time of year, and I've even added pumpkin to chili. But I never thought of adding chocolate to pumpkin until last year.
For some reason, I became obsessed with baking chocolate pumpkin bread and asked everyone I knew if they had a good recipe. I was looking for a dense quick bread with a deep pumpkin flavor that could stand up to lots of add-ins. I love slicing a loaf of bread and seeing the cross-section of fruit and nuts and chocolate.
After I tried a few that were less than stellar, I mentioned my quest to industry friend, who gave me a pumpkin muffin recipe that turned out to be excellent. I adapted it to make pumpkin bread, but you could easily use my version for muffins, as well. It is an oil-based quick bread and I use untoasted walnut oil, but you can use any neutral vegetable oil.
I also reduced the sugar a bit and added light brown sugar and extra spices to give the loaf a deeper flavor that would stand up to the dark chocolate chips and walnuts that I used. When I make this bread closer to Thanksgiving, I add dried cranberries for a seasonal touch, but the bread also is good with the addition of golden raisins and dried cherries.