Fall is my favorite season, and the moment temperatures begin to drop, I find myself craving the pumpkin flavor and aroma that define autumn. It seems pumpkin is everywhere you turn this time of year — on every porch, in every latte. That popularity extends to baked goods, too, with plenty of recipes spotlighting everyone’s favorite gourd.

So it came as a surprise to me that when I set out to find my perfect pumpkin bread formula as a college student, I was unable to track down a version that had everything I desired.

I was looking for a bread with prominent pumpkin flavor in every bite, a blend of fragrant spices to fill my home, and a dense and chewy interior with a crackly crust — one accomplished in this recipe with bites of caramelized sugar and cinnamon that make for a satisfying crunch. I wanted the recipe to be simple enough for my sad college kitchen with minimal counter space and baking tools.

And, finally, I wanted chocolate. Lots of it.

After scrolling through dozens of recipes to no avail, I set out to create this elusive treat myself. My roommates, always eager to eat pumpkin and chocolate, were willing participants as I worked through dozens of iterations until I landed on the equation that follows. It has been a staple of my chilly-weather baking ever since.

Though I graduated from college years ago and left that dilapidated kitchen firmly in the past, I still prefer my baking projects to be relaxed and require minimal cleanup. That’s why this recipe requires only two bowls. While I now use a stand mixer to make this bread, it can also be made with a hand mixer or simply mixed by hand.

If you think chopping a portion of the chocolate feels like an unnecessary extra step, trust me when I say it’s worth it. The finer pieces, speckled throughout the batter, melt into the bread, while the bigger chips retain their shape to provide texture and an addictive chocolatey bite.

But perhaps my favorite thing about this bread, as with other quick breads, is that the spice measurements are so customizable.

Not a fan of cloves? Leave them out. Want to add some nutmeg? Feel free. Love cinnamon? Go crazy! And while you’re at it, sprinkle some more over top before popping the bread into the oven — then sit back and enjoy the pumpkin-spice bliss.

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Recipe from Dayana Sarkisova

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