Diana's Desserts - www.dianasdesserts.com

Chocolate Pumpkin Pecan Swirl Loaf

Servings: Makes 1 (9 x 5-inch) loaf, 10 to 12 servings
It's amazing how well pumpkin and chocolate go together and in this delicious quick bread, chopped pecans, although optional, are added to give a bit of a nutty flavor and crunch. Bake some loaves during the holiday season and give as gifts to family and friends. They will love the taste of this wonderful loaf bread and also appreciate that you made a homemade gift especialy for them.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice* (see note)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick/4 oz./113g) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans, (optional)
4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into pieces

*Note - Pumpkin Pie Spice Substitute
If you don't have pumpkin pie spice, you may substitute it with: 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/8 tsp. ground cloves.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Butter and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, or butter loaf pan, then line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Butter and flour parchment paper.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt and whisk together.

3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until well blended. Add the pumpkin puree and vanilla, then add the flour mixture, beating just until well blended. Fold in the chopped pecans (using nuts is optional).

4. In the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until smooth, about 5 minutes. Or melt in a microwave-safe bowl in a microwave oven on HIGH for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until completely melted and smooth.

5. Spoon half of the batter into the loaf pan. Spoon half of the melted chocolate on top of the batter and swirl it into the batter with a wooden skewer. Repeat with the remaining batter and chocolate, making sure to swirl the chocolate into the batter well.

6. Bake in preheated oven for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of loaf comes out clean. Let the loaf cool in pan for 15 minutes on a wire rack, then invert onto the rack (remove parchment paper if used), then turn right-side up. If desired, drizzle loaf with Glaze (recipe follows). Cut into slices and serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 1 (9 x 5-inch) loaf, 10 to 12 servings.

If you'd like to use a glaze to drizzle over the loaf, try this easy recipe:

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
4 tablespoons cold water
1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 to 2 tablespoons hot water

Mix confectioners' sugar and cold water in a small bowl until the right drizzling consistency. Transfer half of the mixture to a separate bowl. Stir in the cooled melted chocolate and enough of the hot water to make the right consistency for drizzling. Drizzle white and chocolate glazes in a zigzag pattern over the loaf.

Date: November 5, 2006