Chocolate Fig skillet brownies (sugar free — naturally sweetened)
Here’s a delicious and simple skillet dessert giving you the ultimate brownie experience. Rich, decadent double chocolate brownie is baked to perfection in a cast-iron skillet. It’s refined sugar free and naturally sweetened using fig paste and just enough flour (spelt in this case) to hold it together, keeping the centre super-rich, gooey and fudgey.
How to make fig paste?
You have heard of using date paste to sweeten baked goods but have you ever tried making fig paste with dried figs? It’s so easy to make and is the most perfect way to sweeten these brownies without using refined sugar or any other sweetener. Dried figs can already be soft right out of the package but it’s always a good idea to soak them for a few minutes in hot water before turning them into paste. If they are on the drier side soak them for up to 15 minutes. Drain them and then chop them coarsely (your food processor will thank you) place them in a food processor and process until smooth, pausing every once in a while to scrape down the sides of the bowl. If fig paste is too thick, add hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time until completely pureed.
Why use fig paste in baked goods?
I made these brownies in partnership with Valley Fig Growers and if you visit their website at Valleyfig.com you will get all sorts of cool facts about figs and many recipes using dried figs too. A few facts on their website have to do with using figs and fig paste in baked goods. Using dried figs is a delicious and great way to sweeten baked goods, and can also be used to replace fat in them too. Using dried figs in baked goods naturally helps hold in moisture in baked goods, keeping them fresher longer.
Benefits of eating dried figs
Apart from them being a tasty snack and naturally sweetening baked goods, dried figs have health benefits. They are an excellent source of dietary fibre, loaded with essential minerals such as potassium, iron and calcium, and rich in health-promoting antioxidants and complex carbohydrates. Ounce for ounce, figs have more fibre than prunes and more potassium than bananas. For more benefits check out Valleyfig.com.
Growing up we often had friends and family over and always had dried fruit and nuts (ξηρους καρπους) to serve with a drink. Dried figs and sultanas were the dried fruit of choice so my love for dried figs runs deep - along with my love for fresh figs as well. I was excited for the opportunity to work with Valley Fig Growers to create a recipe using their dried figs in a tasty bake up. Their figs are California grown. The two most common varieties of figs grown in California are the amber-coloured, slightly nutty-flavoured Golden and the dark purple, sweet Mission. California produces 100% of the nation’s dried figs and 98% of the fresh figs. I loved using their mission dried figs which I found to have a more intense sweetness to them. They were perfect in the fig paste. I used a combination of their Mission Dried Figs and Golden Dried Figs to top the brownie with and they added texture to the brownies and a pleasing design on top.
Speaking of texture, figs naturally have texture in the flesh. I learned something pretty cool about what makes up that texture. You will never see blossoms on a fig tree. The fruit is the blossom— and it’s actually an inverted flower. At maturity, the interior of the fig contains only the remains of the flower, including the tiny crunchy seeds that you taste when you eat figs. This naturally gets incorporated into the brownies— a little unexpected texture which we loved. The chocolate chips add more obvious texture to them which I also love and strongly recommend you not leave out.
Let’s talk about how to eat this delicious skillet brownie. We love it straight out of the oven, warm and a bit gooey with a few scoops of ice cream over it. It’s kind of a great family dessert— scoop out what you want and put it in a bowl or eat it right out of the skillet. To get a much chewier and fudgy texture I recommend chilling the brownie and slicing after it’s chilled. You will get the fudgiest results that way. The key to making a skillet brownie is making sure the brownie is slightly underdone so it’s ooey gooey yet still firm. The great thing about making it in a cast-iron skillet is that they hold and distribute heat super efficiently, making for a truly perfect brownie. If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, no problem, it will still bake up deliciously in an 8x8 square baking pan. If you are looking for a naturally sweetened brownie recipe I know you will love this one - especially if you love figs as much I do!
I have partnered up with Valley Fig Growers to bring you this fabulous recipe, but all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Olive & Mango.
Recipe is for one 9 inch round skillet or 8x8 baking dish
- 1 cup dried figs (I used Sun-Maid California Mission Dried Figs or use Orchard Choice Mission Dried Figs)
- 1 cup hot water
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup spelt flour (or whole-wheat flour)
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips plus ¼ extra from sprinkling on top
- ½ cup of sliced dried figs to place on top (I used a combination of Orchard Choice Mission Dried Figs and Golden Dried Figs)
Place dried figs in a small bowl and pour in hot water. Soak for 10 to 15 minutes to help them soften enough to process.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease your skillet or line with parchment paper.
Drain figs. Chop coarsely and transfer to a food processor. Pulse until figs are completely smooth, 1 to 2 minutes, stopping a few times between to scrape the sides of the bowl. If fig paste is too thick, add hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time until completely pureed.
Add softened butter to the food processor and pulse to combine, about 30 seconds. Add eggs and vanilla extract and process until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
Add spelt flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Pulse until mixture is just combined, about 30 seconds. Remove blade and gently stir in chocolate chips by hand. Pour batter into the prepared skillet.
Bake in the preheated oven until edges just begin to set, 20 minutes. Allow to cool and serve right out of the pan.