October 01, 2017

Cherry & Star Anise Dark Chocolate Brownies | Celia's Saucer

Recipe for sticky, jammy brownies adapted from Nigella Lawson

That's the thing about Nigella's brownie recipe - apart from handily requiring only one pan - you can add anything to it. Over the years I've done just that: nuts, seeds, spices, ground tea and, now, jam. This wasn't any jam mind you, since I'd gone to Margate to get it. The journey wasn't specifically for that reason but I always make sure to call upon the beautiful Simona at Bottega Caruso - an Italian speciality shop tucked away inside the Old Kent Market - to listen to her lovely stories and invariably leave with a host of ingredients hailing from her village in Campania, Naples. Last time I picked up the most incredible Colatura di Alici, which is an anchovy essence, but I didn't go putting that in any brownies. Brownies. Yes. And jam. Cherry and star anise jam to be precise. I tossed in some walnuts for texture, too (although almonds might have been more fitting). I'm not saying you have to use this particular jam though, no, why not have a play? Do consider the chocolate you're using, though. Mine was a particularly acidic but fruity number from Phil at LAND - Nicaliso, Nicaragua 71% dark chocolate - I thought that the character of this bar would simply extend that of the jam, but with a syrupy finish. 

All good brownies must go with tea (or coffee), so I selected JING (who else?) Red Dragon, which is an endearing black tea: ripe and tart, a malty aroma, notes of caramel, chocolate and black cherry and a thick texture. It was originally sought as an exclusive for Richard Ekkebus* but is now available through the website and it's an office fave. 

To the recipe then? Ok.

Makes approx. 36 brownies


375 g soft unsalted butter
375 g good quality dark chocolate 
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
500 g caster sugar
225 g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
300 g chopped walnuts 
Jar of your favourite jam


Prepare a tin measuring 33 x 23 x 5.5 cm and line with foil.

Preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 4.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large heavy-based pan. Don't overheat or the chocolate can become grainy.

When the chocolate and butter has melted take off the heat and let cool a while.

Meanwhile beat the eggs and sugar in the mixer or by hand.

Measure out your flour, add the salt and set aside.

Once your chocolate mixture has cooled, pour it into the beaten eggs, sugar and vanilla extract mix. Beat again until well combined.

Sift in the flour and ground tea, if using, and beat until combined.

Scrape out into your prepared tin, add blobs of jam across the surface of the mixture (as much or as little as you like) and run a knife through in a figure of eight to distribute.  

Bake for about 25-30 minutes. 

When cooked the top should have a dry, pale crust, but the middle should be super gooey and jammy. Bake for longer or less depending on desired consistency.

Remember that brownies will carry on cooking once removed from the oven. 

*Richard Ekkebus is the international culinary director for Mandarin Oriental 


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