THE ISLAND COOK

NOT-SO-NAUGHTY BROWNIES

These taste rich and indulgent and yet they contain no added butter. Masquerading as the latter is a prune purée whizzed up using strong coffee, which curiously accentuates and complicates the chocolate flavour. The bar of chocolate I bagged was great value at under a pound – Tesco's 74% Ivory Coast plain. The nuts add a pleasing contrast of texture to the soft, fudgy cake but can be left out.

Makes 16

75g walnut halves
100g bar plain chocolate (70+% cocoa solids)
100g juicy prunes
about 90ml strongly brewed coffee, cooled
2 large eggs, beaten
75g dark muscovado sugar
100g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

STORECUBOARD SUBSTITUTES
• use pecans instead of walnuts
• use soft dried dates instead of prunes
• use orange juice instead of coffee
• use any brown sugar you have or prefer

FLOP FACTORS
• Don't let any moisture come into contact with the choc while melting it or it will turn stiff and grainy.
• Once you've added the dry ingredients to the wet, don't leave the mixture sitting about before baking or it won't rise properly.
• Don't bake for too long or you will lose the characteristic moist brownie texture.

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Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/Gas 4 and line a 23cm square baking tin (or rectangular one of comparable size) with baking paper. Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Leave to cool, then chop. (This is an optional step but it really does add to the flavour.)

Meanwhile, break your choccy bar up into a heatproof bowl and place over a small pan of hot water so that the base of the bowl sits clear of the water. Leave until almost all melted, then remove from the pan and stir a bit until smooth. If necessary, leave to stand further until fairly cool but not stiff. While the choc is melting/cooling, cut the prunes into small pieces with kitchen scissors into a jug/small blender, add the coffee (just enough to make the blades work) and whizz until you have a fairly smooth, nicely whipped purée. Spoon out into the melted chocolate, then add the eggs and beat well and stir in the sugar. Sift in the flour and bicarb and fold in with a large metal spoon, then fold in the nuts.

Pour/scrape the mixture into the baking tin and level the surface. Bake for 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with moist crumbs attached. Sit the tin on a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Lift out the brownie using the paper, peel the paper away from the sides of the brownie, then mark out and cut into 16 squares. These will keep for a few days in an airtight container somewhere cool.