Brownies are the mainstay of my baking repertoire for good reason: they’re quick and easy to make; they’re infinitely adaptable; everyone loves them. I’m very happy to spend hours in the kitchen, tinkering with an elaborate recipe for a multi-layered celebration cake or a complicated dessert with a ridiculous number of elements. But really, what everyone wants – what I am asked to bake more than anything else – is brownies. There’s something uniquely satisfying about a dense, fudgy slab of rich, intensely chocolatey brownie that seems to eclipse more refined pleasures. Still, much as I love them, everyone needs a little variety, and I’m forever trying out new combinations, if only to entertain myself. This spiced rum, fig, and white chocolate concoction has been pronounced a winner. The warmth of the rum marries happily with the sticky fruitiness of the figs, the whole thing studded with creamy white chocolate to complement the dark, rich brownie. A perfect square of comfort for these colder months as the nights draw in and we all fancy a little treat to brighten up our days.
150g dried figs, cut into large pieces
75ml spiced rum
200g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
140g salted butter
225g golden caster sugar
2 eggs, plus 1 extra egg yolk
100g plain flour
Pinch of sea salt
100g white chocolate, broken into chunks.
1. Pop your figs in a bowl with your rum and cover. Ideally you’d do this at least an hour before you start cooking (or the day before, if you’re feeling organised) to let the figs soak up some of your tasty alcohol.
2. When you’re ready to start baking, break your chocolate into pieces and chop your butter into rough cubes. Place them both in a glass or metal bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and leave them to melt, stirring occasionally. Preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line a 20x20cm square baking tin.
3. While your chocolate and butter melt, weigh your sugar, and mix your eggs with your extra yolk. When your chocolate and butter have completely melted, beat in your sugar (I use an electric hand whisk, but a spoon or spatula is fine too), followed by your eggs. Add your flour and salt to the mixture and beat that in too. Stir through your rum-soaked figs and any rum left in the bowl, and finally fold in your white chocolate.
4. Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and smooth the surface. Bake for around 20-25 minutes, or until the brownies have risen and started to crack a little round the edges – they will still be soft in the middle. Let them cool completely to firm up before portioning.