They’re not pretty. In fact, they’re pretty ugly. And they’re the butt of many a joke. Just the word ‘prune’ can make people laugh out loud.

But despite all that, Brits are reinvigorating their love of the wrinkled fruit as sales of California Prunes in the UK reaches new heights. Partly due to celebrity fans like Heston Blumenthal and other high profile food retailers and manufacturers, who are using prunes in a wide variety of products – but mainly because Brits have suddenly cottoned on to the power of prunes as a super healthy snacking food.

Award-winning artisan chocolatier Paul A Young – who has three high profile boutiques in London – and is acclaimed for his unusual and indulgent use of ingredients and his handmade tempering techniques – is so excited by the quality and flavour of California Prunes that he has developed two show stopping new recipes: The California prune, caramel and black pepper brownie and a boozy prune and porter truffle recipe which will be available in all three Paul A Young boutiques for the beginning of Chocolate Week – 14October 2013.

“Rich, flavourful and delicious, California Prunes are renowned for their quality and versatility as a cooking ingredient.I am really hoping to inspire people to use them more indulgently in their cooking and enjoy them for the amazing flavour they have,” says Paul A Young.

And it is astonishing how versatile prunes are as an ingredient. Their density works incredibly well for baking as they are neither completely dry nor slimy nor do they have a hard skin. They naturally hold moisture, making them a perfect ingredient; puree them and they will provide a fantastic texture. On top of this – and obviously the health benefits (prunes are rich in vitamin K, vitamin B6 and potassium) – the California Prunes have a wonderful caramelly, deep muscovado sugary taste that gives conventional dishes an interesting, fruity twist.

The old-fashioned view of only reaching for prunes when necessity requires seems woefully out-dated, seeing how sexy prunes can be!