Butter and rice flour to dust the pans
24 plums, halved
4 tbsp armagnac or cognac
65g icing sugar
60ml buttermilk or yoghurt
60ml sunflower oil (or some other mild oil)
1 large egg
50g light brown sugar
2 tbsp treacle
125g all-purpose flour or 40g each of sorghum flour, brown rice flour and tapioca starch
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
A pinch of salt
2 tbsp cocoa powder
140g dark chocolate, chopped
For the syrup
70g icing sugar
2 tbsp armagnac or cognac
1 Preheat the oven to 100C/200F/gas mark ¼. Spread the plums in a single layer on a baking sheet, sprinkle with 1 tbsp each of the icing sugar and the Armagnac and bake for a few hours, shaking the pan once or twice an hour. When half-dried remove from the oven and set aside. Reserve the juices for the glaze.
2 Increase the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Butter 12 muffin tins and dust lightly with rice flour.
3 Warm half the plums in a small saucepan with the remaining booze, then set aside. Puree the remaining plums with the buttermilk or yogurt and the oil until you have a light, shiny paste.
4 In a large bowl, whisk the egg, sugars and treacle into the plum and buttermilk puree. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and cocoa powder.
5 Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet with a spatula. Fold the chopped chocolate into the batter. Pour the batter into the muffin tins so that it is evenly divided. Press a booze-soaked plum into the surface of each cake.
6 Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Be careful not to over-bake them! While the cakes bake, make the syrup by dissolving the sugar in the reserved plum liquid along with the additional 2 tbsp of armagnac.
7 When the cakes are done, allow them to cool a bit. Unmould the cakes and drizzle them with the syrup. Allow the cakes to soak up the syrup before eating.