Chocolate Guinness Brownies
Last week's chocolate tasting in some friends' backyard could be described as extreme low key, and it carried on the St. Patrick's Day pairing of beer and chocolate. The recipe comes from Margaret M. Johnson's The New Irish Table: 70 Contemporary Recipes.
Grace Neill's Chocolate and Guinness Brownies
3/4 cup superfine or granulated sugar
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups Guinness Stout
Confectioners' sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 375 degrees [Fahrenheit]. Butter an 11-by-7-inch rectangular pan. In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar until they are light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the bittersweet chocolate, white chocolate and butter, stirring until the mixture is smooth.
Remove the chocolate from the heat and beat it into the egg mixture.
In a bowl or on a sheet of parchment or wax paper, sift together the flour and cocoa powder and beat them into the chocolate mixture.
Whisk in the Guinness.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out almost clean.
To serve, dust the cake with confectioners' sugar and cut into squares.
I thought the white chocolate, melted in with everything else, was unnecessary so I substituted more bittersweet (for a total of 12 ounces). I also simplified the recipe by leaving off the confectioners' sugar. I was tempted to follow my impulses and cut up the hot brownies in the pan straight out of the oven, but I held back while I let the baked brownie cake cool on a rack, and then I sliced it into squares with a sharp knife about half an hour later. Good idea--the edges were sharp, without a crumb in sight.
Brownies are a homey dessert--and a good opportunity to let the everyman of chocolate have his day. I used Nestle's "cooking chocolate," available in 200g bars from the supermarket. The only problem I had was that the molten chocolate turned into a thick paste instead of a glossy liquid. I was prepared to take the blame for being careless and allowing the chocolate to seize--until I read this commentary from Britain's The Observer. So Nestle's 40%-cacao concoction may indeed be harder to work with than the pure stuff, but in the end the uncomplicated flavor made my brownies smooth, consistent, and easy to enjoy. There's no greater tribute to the patron saint of the Irish than a bottle of Guinness, and the cup used here imparts the finished product with a touch of heartiness. And in the spirit of the holiday, local Melbourne bottle shops are giving away Guinness footballs with every eight cans.