So... my best friend Cortney is pretty much the greatest person ever. She's the only person I've ever met who feels the same way I do about baking. If I have a love language, it is definitely baking. It's the way I express all of my emotions... happy, sad, bored, worried, frustrated. Everything is better when I bake something! Cortney and I communicate a lot of the time by discussing our latest baked goods in detail... and our husbands think we're totally crazy. And maybe we are. But in any case, sometimes by collaborating, we come up with something amazing. Such was the case with these blondies!
Cortney has been making cream cheese blondies for ages, and they are super yummy. So when she said she wanted to try a pumpkin version, I was totally psyched! We discussed a couple of different strategies, and eventually she came up with these. I had originally planned to just take pictures of the blondies she brought me when she succeeded, but they mysteriously disappeared before I could do so (I think it's her fault for making them so delicious and irresistible). The only solution was to make my own batch so I could take pictures. They turned out so good! Definitely a new family favorite!
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Blondies
from my best friend Cortney, adapted from Martha Stewart
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the pumpkin cream cheese swirl:
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, allowing a 2-inch overhang. Spray with cooking spray; set pan aside.
Whisk together 1 2/3 cups flour, the baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, and set aside. Put 9 tablespoons butter and the brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla; mix until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, mix, scraping down sides of bowl, until well combined. Transfer to baking pan, using an offset spatula to smooth the top.
Put 2 tablespoons butter, 1/4 cup sugar, cream cheese, pumpkin puree, egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 3 tablespoons flour, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice into the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat on medium speed until just smooth.
Pour half the blondie batter into prepared pan, and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Spoon two-thirds of cream-cheese mixture on top, and spread evenly. Drop dollops of remaining batter on top (spacing about 1 inch apart), and spread. Top with remaining cream-cheese mixture. If desired, sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar.
Gently swirl cream cheese mixture into batter with a butter knife, running the knife lengthwise and crosswise through layers. (It may be weird and sort of lumpy looking, but don't worry! All will be well!) Bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, 45 to 47 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares. Blondies can be stored between layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days.
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