When we first moved back to St. Lucia 16 years ago from the UK, we immediately began looking for a piece of land upon which to build our home. Our children were still young (10, 10 and 4) and we dreamed of creating a space that would in time become the family home of the Waters clan. There is no shortage of available land in St. Lucia, a lot of it with stunningly beautiful views. St. Lucia truly is beautiful. A friend of ours who was selling up and leaving to move back to the States had the most beautiful tract of land which we were compelled to buy. Problem was, it was a whole heap bigger than the original plot we had envisioned. Now, we were not just building our family home, we had become property developers.
This land had never been used since the second world war when an antenna was built on the highest point, so it was covered in scraggly bush about chest high. Mark hired a team of men to clear the land so we could see what in fact we had bought, but in quick time realised that they were taking advantage of his proper European manners, so he sacked them all. One little, wiry man who could barely speak English hung back and told Mark in a mixture of sign language and actual words that he could do the job on his own if given the chance. Mark agreed as frankly what was there to lose?
To cut a long story short, Nick, aka “Nick the bushman” moved onto the hill, a little house was built for him and Mark would bring him water and provisions as needed, and he did indeed succeed in taming the hill which is now a beautiful development of gorgeous houses.
The reason I have told you about Nick is that he always had a pumpkin vine on the go, somewhere out of the way and unlikely to be damaged by construction. The huge pumpkin I used in a creamy chicken curry recipe was given to me by him, along with various other treasures through the years. I thought of Nick when I sat to write this.
Gluten Free Brownies Recipe – Makes 18
400g (14 oz) pumpkin puree (drained if steaming fresh)
100g (3.5 oz) raw almonds
100g (3.5 oz) dates
80g (1/2 c) rice flour
70ml (6tbsp) maple syrup or coconut nectar
80g (8 tbsp) raw cacao
20g (1 tbsp) grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp salt
You need to work backwards from the pureed weight of the pumpkin. This is of course if you, like me, are starting with the raw vegetable. You will need about 4 cups raw pumpkin cut into cubes and then steamed. Once it is soft, tip into a strainer and let the water drain off. You might need to catch this for adding any needed moisture later and if not then for adding to a soup or stock as its all good.
While the pumpkin is steaming and then draining, start by chopping the almonds quite small in the food processor. You need to be a bit careful because if you go too far you will end up releasing the oil in the nuts and you’re halfway to making delicious almond nut butter. Not such a disaster but not the skill we want here. Add the dates and continue to blitz. Once you have an even “meal” add the maple syrup, cocoa, ginger, rice flour and salt. The consistency should be smooth and easily spreadable. If its looking a bit dry to you, then add some of your pumpkin water.
I used ready cut cake pan inserts of wax paper, but you could line your baking dish as you see fit remembering that the best result is achieved with some sort of lining rather than just greased.
Cook the brownies in a 180°C (350°F) oven for about 30 minutes until the top starts to get a lovely brownish caramel look to it.
Cut into squares (or indeed whatever shape takes your fancy) and enjoy with a cup of tea/coffee or maybe even a rum punch.