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I thought I knew about the destruction and havoc that natural disasters could wreak.

I’m familiar with snowstorms that come bearing five-foot-high-walls of snow, and personally knowing people (dear family and friends) who have been snowed onto the highway for two or three days straight, with little or no food or water, no place to go to the bathroom, and no way to contact loved ones once their cell phones die.

And I lived in Florida for three years during law school, so I’m no stranger to hurricanes either.

But this was a real wake-up call.

Hurricane Sandy has affected so many people, in ways that are just unthinkable to most of us.I’ve heard stories of destroyed homes. People who have been without power since the storm and have no real idea when their power will be restored. Take a moment and really think about what it is like to lose power…maybe no heat, no refrigeration, no hot water, no way to shower, no way to wash your clothes, and the list goes on…it’s life-altering in a million different ways.

Looting, flooding, people going hungry and unable to buy food or gas.

Despite all the negatives, there are positives too. Times like this teach us not to take anything for granted. People band together to help each other. Neighbors reach out to help people they don’t know. The best of humanity also shines through.

At some point in time, we’re all going to be the ones who need help from someone. Right now, those in need are the people living with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. How can we help? The most efficient way I can think of is to donate money to the organizations that have made it their job to make a difference. For starters, the Red Cross is a fantastic organization doing a lot of good (here’s the link to donate, and here’s the link to look into giving blood). Direct Relief International is another great organization doing a lot of good.

And there are companies out there who are committed to helping too. From Macy’s website: “Beginning Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012, customers in all Macy’s stores nationwide will be able to contribute $1.00 or more to hurricane recovery efforts. Contributions can be made at the registers in all Macy’s stores and online at Contributions will be accepted through Nov. 30, 2012. The company will match customer donations on a dollar-for-dollar basis, up to $500,000, in an effort to give more than $1 million. All funds will be donated to the American Red Cross.”

If you’re able, please do what you can to help those in need.

So, about these brownies…they are a sweet, comforting treat offered in the spirit of supporting those who need our help. If you’re looking for a classic fudgy brownie, this recipe isn’t the one for you. These brownies are completely delicious in their own right though.

I tried to pare down a bit on both the fat and sugar content. (I’ve seen recipes that make the same amount of brownies as this recipe, but use up to 2 sticks of butter and 2 cups of sugar! That seems like a crazy lot to me.) I added pumpkin puree, which of course bumps up the nutrition, and I used whole wheat flour too. The end result was delicious, rivaling many of my favorite bakery-style brownies. You know the brownies I mean…the ones that are dense and moist, full of deep chocolate flavor with a fudgy frosting on top. The brownies that pair so well with a cold glass of milk.

Hope you get to share a sweet moment with a loved one today. And please take a little time to make someone else’s day a little sweeter too.

I took the photo above with my iPhone and edited it with Instagram – not too shabby, right?

Bakery-Style Frosted Brownies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 1 (8X8-inch) pan; about 12 servings
  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate (about ⅔ cup good quality semisweet chocolate chips will work), melted in a double boiler or microwave
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease the pan
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree (canned is fine; look for solid-pack pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon fine salt
  • 6 oz semisweet chocolate (or about 1 cup good quality semisweet chocolate chips)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch instant coffee powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk (any kind you like)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F; grease an 8 by 8-inch pan with butter.
  2. Whisk together the melted chocolate and butter until smooth, then whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla. Once incorporated, whisk in the eggs and then the sugar. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined, being careful not to over-mix.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool completely.
  4. Wait to make the frosting until the brownies are cooled and ready to be frosted, because this frosting should be spread on immediately. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler or microwave. Whisk in the vanilla, coffee powder, and salt, then stir in the powdered sugar and enough milk to reach your desired consistency. If the frosting isn’t smooth, re-heat it briefly in a double boiler or microwave until smooth and lump-free, then immediately spread it on the cooled brownies.
  5. Let the frosting set before cutting the brownies and serving.
Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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    1. Sylvie, Thank you so much, you totally made my day! I’ve been a BIG fan of yours for a long time now! :)

  1. Just made a batch of these (minus the frosting) and they are fabulous! By far the best healthier brownies I’ve ever had. Great recipe, and lovely post, Faith :).

    1. Lauren, Oh, you totally made my day!! So happy you enjoyed the brownies! And thanks so much for your kind words about my post.

  2. Wow. Don’t know why I haven’t found your blog before. Very inspiring and gorgeous photography!

  3. sneaky girl, slipping pumpkin into these glorious brownies! i love that frosting recipe–thanks for sharing it!

  4. Faith, I just found you at Bev Cooks; I must have been living under a rock!
    These brownies look amazing and I love that you replaced some of the fat with the pumpkin puree. I can’t wait to see what else you have it store!

  5. I can’t believe I am just finding your blog! It’s truly a joy exploring it. These brownies looks perfect, and I love you added pumpkin puree. Nice “meeting” you ;)

    1. Welcome, Ashley! Thank you so much for stopping by…I’m heading over to check out your blog right now!

  6. Nice post Faith. Watching the news and viewing all the devastation in a city that so many live and visit is horrifying. I know we’ve had our share here in Missouri of flooding and tornadoes over the past few years and it’s awful dealing with what mother nature sends our way especially when it involves the loss of lives.

    As for your brownies – these look incredibly moist and chocolaty, just what my tummy likes at 8:30 in the morning.

  7. Great post Faith. It is so rough, some of my friends still don’t have power as well and are displaced. I wish I was closer to help more for sure!

  8. Watching Sandy’s effects on TV was terrifying….When it is nature there is nothing you can do to stop it. We are helpless. All this really does make you feel grateful for all the conveniences we have. My cousin lives in New Jersey and I was so worried about her. The didn’t have power for a few days but now they are fine. With this cold weather I hope everyone gets their power back soon.

    Brownies looks delicious…I had to read the recipe twice to make sure I read the correct amount of butter..WOW! Definitely have to give these a try soon! The iPhone picture is really good too..would never have known if you didn’t say anything!

  9. Nice post Faith…and this frosted brownies look amazing…sinful!
    Thanks for this awesome recipe and hope you are having a wonderful week :)

  10. Lovely post – beautiful photos – your brownies look absolutely amazing! I love that you’ve used fruit puree to increase the nutritional value, I do that too as it helps reduce the overall amount of sugar that you need too.

  11. These brownies look dangerously delicious! Love that you added pumpkin to “healthify” them a bit :).

  12. Urban Wife says:

    Well written and thanks for the link info on how to help. My heart definitely goes out to those who are still in great need.

    I love healthier brownies. Makes it more acceptable to eat an extra slab, right? :)

  13. I can’t even imagine what it’s like on the east coast after Sandy came through. My heart goes out to everyone. Thanks for sharing the information. Your brownies look sinful yet healthy which is the perfect combination!

  14. Genevieve says:

    These brownies look amazing … like everything else on your site. And I think this is a wonderful cause, I lost power for several days after Tropical Storm Irene, and after the winter storm a month later. My experience wasn’t even close to what some people are dealing with after Sandy; they could use all the help we can muster!

  15. Lora @cakeduchess says:

    So many that just received power lost it again from the blizzard they just got hit with. Beautiful post, Faith. Your brownies look divine. :)

  16. it sure brings so much perspective, doesn’t it? yes, there are many people still without power, and that is awful; I certainly cannot imagine losing everything…

    I hope our #WeCare reaches far and wide!

    wonderful post, thank you :)

  17. So true…very scary. I have a lot of family in NJ and they have been devastated by this storm. We have sent money and yesterday I donated blood. Locally, my development in SC is putting together supplies and driving them up to NJ.

    The brownies look amazing! Yayy for lightened up goodies

  18. hurricane Sandy really was so remarkably destructive. Ugh. So awful.

    But these brownies! LOVE. Especially the way you healthified them up. :P

  19. Happy to see a baking recipe on here! These brownies look lovely….and guess what tomorrow is?! WOO HOO! I’m still waiting for my cookbook to arrive. Life is hard…

  20. Love the fact these are healthier versions! Another recipe for my “Faith binder!”

  21. These are the kind of brownies my family begs me to bake…mmmmmmm…. And a wonderful call for support for Sandy victims, too!

  22. Sinful! those brownies look very tempting.



  23. Thank you for sharing this, I added the badge to my side bar! Your brownies…wow, I never woulda guessed they were a healthier version! They look so good. And yeah, your iphone pic using instragram is tremendous! I think I just need to get an iPhone and stop buying these cheap cameras, they seem to take better pictures, plus you can use them as a phone! win-win.

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