I have a serious confession to make.

I am one of those extremely annoying, latte-sipping, oversized-sweater-wearing, noncreative geniuses who absolutely loves fall.

I like leaves. I like temperate weather. I like scarves. I like pretending that leggings are pants. I like being able to wear layers in an attempt to hide my pale and significantly less toned school year bod.

But most of all, during the fall season, I really, really, really, like to bake.

If you have never spent any time baking, you have no idea how rewarding it is. You don’t know how thrilling it is to crack an egg without getting any shells in the batter, how satisfying it is to secretly lick a spoon or bowl or pan, how amazing it is when some weirdly colored, seemingly random combination of ingredients comes out of the oven and immediately induces saliva production among observers.

Baking is amazing. And even though more Americans would prefer to watch other people bake, I am challenging you to combat that stereotype and bake something basic this fall. Because who doesn’t love a healthy combination of butter and sugar! Unless you are a vegan or a diabetic, what you really ought to be doing is enjoying the fatty-carbs this season has to offer. So this is me giving you a recipe (don’t worry, I made it an easy one) that is so hashtag fall and delicious, you won’t be able to resist the urge to bake. You’re welcome world.

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies (adapted from Betty Crocker) 

For the Brownies:
1 box brownie mix
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
1 egg

For the swirl:
1 package cream cheese, softened
½ cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:
-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease the bottom of a 9-inch square pan. In a small bowl, beat all of the swirl ingredients together with an electric mixer (or a spoon if you’re super strong) until smooth. Set aside.

-Make brownie batter as directed on the box. Spread ¾ of the batter in your greased square pan. Then spoon the “swirl” mixture on top of the batter. Make sure it is dispersed evenly. Add the remaining brownie batter (again, disperse the batter evenly). At this point you should have a greased, square pan with an even layer of brownie batter, an even layer of “swirl” mixture, and a thin, even layer of brownie batter. Make random “cuts” in the batter to give your brownies a marbled look.

-Bake for 40-45 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick that emerges from the pan clean. Cool completely and store covered in the fridge if you don’t eat the entire pan in one night.

Erin's favorite Pumpkin Swirl Brownies, courtesy of Betty Crocker!

Erin’s favorite Pumpkin Swirl Brownies, courtesy of Betty Crocker!

~Erin Dugan

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