Home With the Lost Italian: Embrace fall with Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Pumpkin bread is baked with chocolate chips. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Pumpkins are in season, and this week, I’m sharing the recipe for one of my family’s favorite fall-time treats: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread. This seasonal quick bread is full of flavor, ultra-moist and easy to make.

The wonderfully moist texture of this bread comes not just from the pumpkin puree but from the vegetable oil, too, which also helps to extend the shelf life of the bread. Four eggs give the bread its richness and volume, and cinnamon and nutmeg are added to enhance the fall flavors.

I prefer the intense chocolate flavor of semisweet or dark chocolate chips for this recipe, as milk chocolate can be too cloying for this rich, sweet bread. You could also use a good quality baking chocolate and cut it into small chunks.

The batter takes only about 10 to 15 minutes to prepare before baking in a 350-degree oven for about an hour. My recipe yields two large loaves or at least four to five mini loaves, depending on the size of your pans. The recipe can easily be halved, but you might as well use up that whole can of pumpkin and fill your freezer with the extra loaves.

Instead of simply greasing the loaf pans before adding the batter, I also dust them with a light coating of flour to ensure the bread’s easy removal once baked. Additionally, I toss the chocolate chips in a little flour before adding them to the batter, as this step helps prevent them from falling to the bottom of the loaf as it bakes.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread is great on its own, but it’s even better when served with homemade Maple Butter, which you can whip up in the time it takes the bread to bake. Much to the delight of my maple-loving men at home, there are myriad ways to enjoy maple butter — on toast, melted over pancakes and waffles, spread on a scone or just on a spoon, for example. Plus, it will keep in the refrigerator for at least two weeks, if it lasts that long.

With just four ingredients (pure maple syrup, butter, cinnamon and salt), making maple butter is an easy process but does require the use of a candy thermometer as the syrup needs to cook until it reaches 240 degrees, also known as soft-ball stage.

For some reason, candy thermometers can intimidate folks enough to make them walk away from a good recipe. But this handy tool is affordable, easy to find and takes all the mystery and stress out of cooking sugar. If you don’t have one, go get one because it’s almost the season for making toffee and brittle.

For more great pumpkin recipes, check out past favorites, including Sarello’s Pumpkin Soup, Maple Glazed Pumpkin Cookies, Candy Corn Pumpkin Scones, Grandma Sunny’s Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie and Pumpkin Spice Macaroons. Then, fill your freezer with this easy and delicious Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread.

“Home With the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Makes: 2 large loaves (9x5x3), or 4 to 5 mini loaves

3 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin

2/3 cup water

4 eggs

3 1/3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cup chocolate chips

1 to 2 teaspoons flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour the baking pans, shaking off any excess flour; set aside.

Place the sugar, oil, pumpkin, water and eggs in a large bowl. Use the paddle attachment of your stand mixer (a hand-held mixer also works) and beat on medium speed until well combined.

In a separate bowl, use a whisk to combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

In a small bowl, lightly toss the chocolate chips with 1 to 2 teaspoons of flour, just to coat, shaking off any excess. This will help keep the chips from falling to the bottom of the bread as it bakes.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix on medium speed until combined, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

Pour the pumpkin batter into the prepared loaf pans until about two-thirds full. Place pans in the center rack of the oven and bake, 1 hour for large loaves or about 45 to 50 minutes for small loaves. Insert a toothpick into the center of each loaf to check for doneness — if it comes out crumb-free, the bread is ready.

Remove from oven and cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing loaves to a wire rack to cool completely.

To store, wrap well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a week, or place wrapped loaves in a plastic freezer bag and freeze for several months.

Maple Butter

Makes: about 1 cup

1 cup pure maple syrup

1 cinnamon stick or ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ cup butter (1 ½ sticks), cut into small pieces for quicker melting

¼ teaspoon salt (if using salted butter, skip this step)

Place the maple syrup and cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. If using ground cinnamon, stir in to combine and then don’t stir again.

Once the syrup comes to a boil, use a candy thermometer and continue cooking over medium-high heat until it reaches 240 degrees (soft-ball stage), about 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove pan from burner, discard cinnamon stick and stir in butter until fully melted.

Transfer mixture immediately to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low and gradually increase the speed as the mixture thickens, until high speed can be used without splatters. Beat for at least 8 to 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick and creamy and an opaque, pale maple color.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for at least 2 weeks. Best enjoyed at room temperature.

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