I have to admit, I have a weak spot for St. Patrick’s Day. But not in the whole excessive drinking bar crawl way (though I did do a pub crawl one year when I was abroad). I find venturing out on St. Patrick’s day to be a somewhat miserable experience (drunks. kiss me, i’m irish t-shirts. college students.), but I love the opportunity to indulge in specific types of alcohol (guinness! jameson!) and various irish-y food stuffs pretty great. And I like to listen to Irish punk on repeat for a day or two. So that’s awesome.
This year, some poet friends and I opted for a quiet evening in, playing Settlers of Catan (which. . . amazing.) Two of my guy friends made beer battered fish (!) so I offered to bring dessert. The only rule I made for myself in deciding what to make was that it had to include Guinness.
I love Guinness. It’s so rich and dark and amazing, and it pairs so well with chocolate. One of my favorite undergrad memories is touring the Guinness factory in Dublin. It was like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, but with more hops.
But what to bake? I have had Stout cupcakes before, and they are wonderful, but I don’t love making cupcakes for a crowd. I only have one pan, and icing them is a pain, and besides, everyone’s had cupcakes. But then I found this recipe. For Guinness BROWNIES. And you guys, they were so amazing. Sweet, but not super sweet. Very chocolatey, but with this subtle, almost smokey depth to them. Amazing. Be warned: these are fudgey brownies, the rich and slighty gooey variety. They are super addictive, but also so very satisfying (much like Guinness itself.) You also get a pretty big tray’s worth on this recipe (about 3 dozen), but they stay edible (if you keep them in tupperware) for like a week. But unless you’re all alone in the house (and even then) I don’t think they’ll last that long. . .
8 oz dark semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1 cup, plus 2 Tbs butter, soft
3 cups sugar
½ cup Guinness Beer
1 1/3 cups flour
6 Tbs dark cocoa powder
semi sweet chocolate chips (the original recipe says 10 oz. but I just used what I had in my fridge, which was probably closer to 5 or 6. I’d say go on personal preference)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12×16 inch tray with parchment paper. The size of the tray is fairly important here, because you want a sort of thin brownie. I didn’t have that size, so I bought a disposable foil tray at Safeway. That worked pretty well (I still lined it with parchment paper), but be warned. . . those things are not super stable and this batter/ these brownies are kind of heavy. If you go the disposable route, carry your tray accordingly (aka with the weight evenly distributed and with extreme caution over very short distances. The original recipe also suggests spraying your parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray. I was out, so I just didn’t do that, but it’s probably not a bad idea, especially if you want to cut them into neat squares and not just bring the whole tray to be picked at by your friends (which is what I did!)
2. Melt your 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate by microwaving it for 90 seconds and then whisking it until it is very smooth. I used our old friend, baking chocolate.
If you remember, in my chocopocolypse cookie entry, I mentioned my distaste for chopping chocolate. So dear readers, I’m going to make a confession: I just didn’t bother this time. I broke the squares in half, dropped ’em in a bowl, and called it a day. And you know what? They melted just dandy. So for this sort of project, I’m kind of over chopping chocolate just to melt it up.
Lace and Lemons: advocating kitchen shortcuts wherever we can find them!
Make sure you set your chocolate aside to cool a bit after this step.
3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugar until it’s fluffy. The fluffiness is important for good textured brownies later, so let your mixer work for you.
4. Add the beer. This recipe only calls for 1/2 a cup of Guinness. So what you do with the rest is up to you. I find a beer in the kitchen to be pretty awesome, but you know, to each her own.
(A note about the beer, which may seem obvious, but is worth saying. It will be foamy. I opened my beer at the beginning of the recipe, but it hadn’t got anywhere near flat by the time I needed to measure it. If you’re a plan ahead type, you can give it time to flatten, but I pretty much just measured so that the dark liquidy part hit the 1/2 cup mark and then tried to keep most of the foam out. I’m not sure I did an amazing job of keeping the foam out, and the brownies turned out great, so I wouldn’t give yourself too much anxiety about it, but if you have too much foam, your measurements won’t be right.)
Once you’ve got the beer in there, beat until well combined.
5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until they are completely incorporated.
6. Slowly beat in the melted chocolate (at this point, you’ll start to truly appreciate the awesomeness of these brownies. The beer and the chocolate make this incredible smell. mmmm.)
7. Mix the flour and cocoa together (again, the original recipe suggests you sift these together. If you’re the type who usually sifts your ingredients, it absolutely can’t hurt, but I never bother. I just added my cocoa powder to the flour and stirred it up with a fork to combine them). I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder, which I’m really bummed had not been a part of my life before this recipe. It’s amazing. I want to put it in everything!
8. Add your flour and cocoa mixture into the batter, stirring until just combined. I highly suggest you do this by hand, as cocoa powder, at least in my experience, seems specially designed to explode into an uncleanable cloud of chocolate dust when introduced to the KitchenAid.
9. Add the chocolate chips and mix until combined.
10. Transfer your batter to the pan you prepped earlier, and spread evenly to the edges. Be patient. This batter is a bit sticky and heavy, so take your time.
11. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick (or chopstick, if you’re me and couldn’t find the toothpicks) comes out clean. Don’t overbake these, but don’t panic if yours take a smidge longer than 30 minutes to cook (mine did and were still nice and fudgey.)
12. When the brownies are finished, let them cool completely before you cut them. I baked these too close to my departure time for the St. Patrick’s day shindig, so I ended up just taking the pan and we didn’t really bother cutting them into neat little squares, but they seemed like they would definitely have fallen apart if they were cut too soon.
I really can’t overstate the yumminess of these brownies. They are excellent with Guinness, of course, but would be equally heavenly with red wine, or milk, of course. And they’re a perfect dessert brownie, rich, but not overpowering. They were a big hit at the party.
My mom was going to try them for this weekend, so hopefully she’ll comment and let us know how they turned out for her (hint hint, Mom!)