A Real Bastard of a Brownie
Is it just me, or is it often difficult (read: impossible) to taste the beer in many so-called beer foods? I’ve had cheddar beer soups, beer brownies and cheesecakes, beer can chicken, beer battered everything, etc. and honestly, the most I’ve ever tasted is the smallest hint of malt or hops. It’s almost always a disappointment. There are exceptions to this rule, sure, but generally, I don’t think people are letting the beer shine through in their cooking. I’m going to make it my personal goal with this blog to make the beer a costar in the recipes, not just a supporting character.
Enter Double Bastard Brownies. Actually they’re Triple Double Bastard Brownies. (Does that make them Sextuple Bastard Brownies?) And they are spectacular. 2009 Double Bastard is one hell of a beer, and I was not about let mere chocolate overpower the creamy, caramely, buttery notes of that most Arrogant of strong ales. If I wasn’t going to drink it, I still wanted to taste it. So I endeavored to amp up the beer profile in this brownie, bring it to a whole new level.
Step one, put beer in the batter. Easy enough, but a bit tired, a bit obvious. How else to beerify the brownies? What does a good brownie need? Nuts. Yes, I am the part of the 50% of the population that insists on nuts in my brownies, and I don’t want to hear it from the rest of you. Your judgement is flawed. Anyway, I decided on beer-toasted walnuts for the batter. I took about half a cup of walnut pieces and soaked them in some Double Bastard for about 5 minutes. Then I drained them (into a glass–why dump out good beer just because it’s touched some nuts? [That’s what she said]), spread them on a cookie sheet, sprinkled them lightly with sugar, and toasted them in a 350 degree oven for about 7 minutes, just long enough to lightly caramelize the sugars on the nuts. Perfection. Well worth eating on their own. Maybe I’ll try that with raw almonds sometime, just for an awesome snack…
Finally, I decided on a Double Bastard Caramel ribbon to swirl into the brownies. I know, madness right? I googled “perfect caramel recipe” and was unexpectedly subjected to multiple doctoral dissertations on the temperamental qualities of caramel, the differences between wet and dry caramel, the finer nuances of candy making, etc. Maybe on an ordinary day, this may have been acceptable, but I was impatient to move these brownies from the theoretical/development stages to the hole in my face, so I abandoned my search and made up my own caramel recipe. I combined 1/2 cup Double Bastard with 1 cup sugar in a saucepan. I heated it over medium heat until it looked dissolved and caramelly. Oh, and I threw in 2 tablespoons of butter, just for good measure. Mmmmmm, butter. It didn’t get too thick, but it did thicken a little bit.
Time to put it all together.
Triple Double Bastard Brownies
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup Double Bastard
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup Double Bastard nuts
1 recipe Double Bastard caramel
Fold in nuts. Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper. Pour batter into prepared dish and smooth with a rubber spatula, making sure to fill the corners of the dish. Pour the caramel gently in vertical stripes across the top of the batter. Then use a butter knife to cut horizontally across the surface of the batter to create little swirlies of caramel on the top of the brownies. Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (just don’t stick it in a caramel spot!).
These brownies are incredibly rich, malty, chewy and sticky. The longer they cool, the less sticky they get, so if you’re going to serve them warm, make sure you’ve got plates and forks handy.
The Double Bastard really shines through on these brownies. The chocolate pairs with the malty sweetness to strike a delicate balance. And the nuts add amazing flavor and texture. Friends and coworkers seemed to like them too. I got resounding votes of approval on these. If anyone tries this recipe with anything other than Double Bastard, I’d be very interested to hear if the beer stands up to the chocolate. I think it is a combination of the multiple beer elements in the brownies along with the strength of the Bastard’s flavor that makes the beer such a pronounced flavor in the recipe. Anyway, happy baking everyone!!!