You might have noticed that I am a bit obsessed with baking brownies. They're my go-to bake when I want to whip up something quick and easy. Brownies really are so easy - they're a one bowl, one bake, handful of ingredients recipe and once you've got it down then you can practically make them in your sleep. They're also a great vehicle for all sorts of other flavours and textures - gooey marshmallows, crunchy biscuits, tart raspberries and more-ish caramel. The possibilities are endless (almost). So when I was asked to take one of these rum gift sets at Alexander and James and do some cocktail-inspired baking, I turned to my faithful brownie.
As you know, I am more of a gin drinker, but Paul is a rum man so he was particularly excited when this Ron Zacapa 23 turned up in the post, nestled inside an impressive purple gift box. This rum is deep, dark and intense. I almost feel like it's too good to be mixed into a cocktail, or baked into a brownie - it's the most sophisticated bottle of alcohol I've ever had in the house (although I think that says more about me than it does about this rum...). You don't have to use such fancy rum, of course, if you're making these brownies but it does make them feel special. And if there's one thing I've learnt it's that doing things to make the everyday special is most definitely worth your while.
The rum is obviously the star of the show here - although you only need a dash here, otherwise you'll be getting drunk off brownies, which sounds fun but is not my intention. The rum is for flavour, paired with some sweet but fiery ginger and a little hint of lime reminiscent of a 'Dark & Stormy' - Paul's favourite cocktail. He declared me a very good pre-wife on eating these, which given his usual fussiness when it comes to food was quite the triumph. You can eat them as soon as they've cooled down, of course, but if you leave them in a sealed tin overnight and save them for the next day, they're so much better. I'm no scientist so I'm not sure what happens in there, but the flavours really intensify with time. It's good stuff.
- 200g dark chocolate (the best you can afford)
- 165g unsalted butter
- 2 and a half tablespoons Ron Zacapa 23 rum (or another dark rum)
- 325g caster sugar
- zest of 1 and a half limes
- 3 eggs
- 125g plain flour
- 3 1-inch pieces of stem ginger in syrup
1. Line your brownie tin with baking paper or grease with butter and set to one side. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.
2. Break up the chocolate and place in a heat-proof bowl above a pan of simmering water. Cut up the butter and add into the bowl. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Leave to cool for a few minutes.
3. In a separate bowl, rub the lime zest into the caster sugar using your fingertips.
4. Stir the rum into the bowl of chocolate and add the sugar. Stir until incorporated.
5. Add the eggs one at a time and mix vigorously until each is well combined.
6. Finally, sift in the flour and fold in to the mixture until just combined - over-mixing is a brownie's downfall!
7. Pour into your prepared tin and smooth the top with a knife. Place in the oven to cook for 25-30 minutes. Your brownies should still be soft and squidgy when it comes out.
8. Leave to cool before cutting into pieces. Enjoy immediately or place in an air-tight container overnight and enjoy even more in the morning!
Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Alexander & James