These grown-up brownies are perfect for the festive season and not only will they fill your entire home with a delicious, spiced chocolatey fragrance, they also make a lovely gift… of you can part with them.

These festive brownies should come with a warning.

OBSCENE – ENTER WITH CAUTION

The smell when your baking them is worth all the effort alone. All I can say is I’m glad I did one of Joe Wick’s HIT sessions when I got up this morning to counter balance the grotesque amount of raw brownie mix I devoured whilst making these.

I actually made them to take to Delilah’s nursery tomorrow as a gift for the staff – whether they make it or not is another thing – especially as my mother is due round any minute. Bye-bye brownies.

The base brownie recipe comes from Nigel Slater, I’m not sure how delighted he’d be with my bastardisation of it but it is Christmas and I do love a festive bake.

 

Chocolate and Amaretto Gingerbread Brownies –

200g golden caster sugar
250g butter – room temperature
250g chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids)
3 large eggs plus 1 extra egg yolk

4 tablespoons of amaretto
60g flour
60g finest quality cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 teaspoons ground ginger

 

You will need a baking tin, about 23cm x 23cm, preferably non-stick, or a small roasting tin.

Set the oven at 180°C/Gas 4. Line the bottom of the baking tin with baking parchment.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy – I’d definitely recommend getting the electric mixer out.

Meanwhile, break the chocolate into pieces, set 50g of it aside and melt the rest in a bowl suspended over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water. As soon as the chocolate has melted remove it from the heat.

Chop the remaining 50g into gravel-sized pieces and add to a bowl with the sifted flour, cocoa, baking powder and all the spices and a mix together with a pinch of salt.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly together with the amaretto.

With the food mixer running slowly, add the egg mixture a bit at a time, speeding up in between additions. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently mix in the melted chocolate. Lastly, fold in the flour and cocoa, gently and firmly, without knocking any of the air out. Scrape the mixture into the prepared cake tin.

Now, the baking time will vary depending on how fudgy you like your brownies and the size of tin you use … smaller tins will mean deeper brownies which will take longer to cook. My first batch (yes I made them twice) were in for 25 minutes and this was a little too long. Although still delicious they weren’t as fudgy as I’d planned. I’d recommend checking every 2-3 minutes after about 18. The second batch I baked for 20 minutes. Better. Gooier.

The cake should have risen slightly but still be soft in the middle. A fork into the middle of the cake should come out sticky, but not with raw mixture. It’s an artform but one that is worth mastering. And remember it will continue to cook a little more after coming out and solidify during cooling.

Some people plunge the tray into an ice water bath at this point to prevent them cooking any further – I’ll leave that decision up to you.

Enjoy!