Finally, I decorate the top of the bread with whole walnut halves or a layer of chopped walnuts. I love the look and the texture of this extra touch. It dresses up a simple loaf of quick bread and gives it a rustic, homemade but professional presentation.
A note about pumpkin — I have tried every type of pumpkin, from roasting my own and making puree to testing all of the brands out there. I will never roast a pumpkin for baking again. The pulp was watery and did not have that concentrated flavor I love. I also suggest staying away from pumpkin pie "filling." I prefer Libby's pure pumpkin puree.
Pumpkin Bread with Dark Chocolate and Walnuts
Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes (15 minutes active)
Servings: 2 loaves, 16 slices
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
15-ounce can pureed pumpkin
1 1/4 cups walnut oil (not toasted)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 generous teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground dry ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups dark chocolate chips
2 cups lightly toasted walnuts, plus more for decorating the top
1 cup dried cranberries (optional)
Heat the oven to 350 F. Coat 2 standard loaf pans with baking spray.
In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, both sugars, pumpkin and oil until smooth. In a second bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, ginger and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips, walnuts and cranberries, if using.
Fill each of the prepared loaf pans about three-quarters full with batter. Drop each on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles. Sprinkle additional walnuts over the top of each loaf, using your hand to gently press them into the batter. Place the pans on a baking sheet to make it easier to pull out of the hot oven.