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One of my favorite BBC cooking shows is Cook Yourself Thin. I'm constantly running to the kitchen to make something I've just seen on the show. One of my most favorite flavor combinations is chocolate and peppercorn, and this recipe has just the right amount for me. Don't let the pumpkin in the brownie recipe put you off, it lends a lovely, rich sweetness to the recipe and makes it heart-healthy and low calorie as well.
- 400 g pumpkin, peeled and cut into smallish chunks (any variety is good except butternut squash)
- 150 g dark cooking chocolate (at least 70 per cent cocoa)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 200 g ground almonds
- 50 g cocoa powder
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 medium eggs
- 1 teaspoon pink peppercorns, crushed (to garnish) (optional)
- Preheat a conventional oven to 160degrees Celsius Grease a 27 cm x 20 cm tin lightly with vegetable oil and a brush (I just use parchment paper and skip the oil).
- Pop the pumpkin in a heatproof bowl with a small pool of water (you don't even need the water, the pumpkin will release plenty of liquid on its own) and cover with good quality cling film, before heating in the microwave on medium high for 8 minutes.
- Remove from the microwave, drain the liquid and re-cling before blasting it once again, this time on high for 3 minutes. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, measure out the cinnamon, ground almonds, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Bash up the chocolate inside its packet so that it is left in biggish chunks.
- In another bowl, whisk up the eggs, honey, maple syrup and vanilla extract until pale and full of surface bubbles.
- When the pumpkin is out of the microwave, drain all the water out again and whisk until the chunks have turned to a puree.
- Add the broken chocolate and leave to melt.
- Once mostly melted, add the egg mixture to the pumpkin and chocolate and beat until fully incorporated before adding the almond and cocoa powder concoction. Mix thoroughly.
- Pour into the prepared tin, sprinkle over the roughly ground pink peppercorns (if using) and place in the middle of the oven for 35 minutes exactly. Allow to cool in the tin before serving.