Guest Post: Hungry Games: The Beer Brownie Battle—A Quest for the Best Guinness Brownie Recipe

One of my work besties, Stellar, possesses a talent for baking that is out of control. This girl has a KitchenAid and, holy crap, she knows how to use it. A couple weeks ago, she approached me with a terrible dilemma, and she needed my help. Her boyfriend had asked her to make some Guinness brownies for a party, and she did not know which of three recipes she should use. She is one of those rare women who does not like chocolate. Could I possibly help her with a taste test of these recipes? Ummm…YES PLEASE! And thus, the Beer Brownie Battle was born!

One afternoon post-work, another work besty, SZ Who, joined Stellar to help bake, while I documented the epic event. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll just show you the first reason why this was a good idea:

(I don’t know how the Heath chips snuck in there. They weren’t actually used in any of the recipes, but they look good, right?)

The Contenders:

Recipe 1: Guinness Stout Brownies
from Home Cooking on About.com

The original version of these brownies was developed in Ireland. The malt in the Guinness stout beer intensifies the flavor of the chocolate in these delicious brownies. The texture is an interesting combination of fudge, mousse, candy, and traditional brownies. Although decadently chocolate, they are surprisingly light due to the eggs. You won’t taste the beer at all. Great for St. Patrick’s Day or any day.

(Note from HG: These brownies did taste like Guinness, which I thought made them unique amongst the competitors.)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted room temperature butter, cut into cubes
  • 8 ounces dark bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup superfine or granulated sugar
  • 1-1/4 cups (10 ounces) Guinness Extra Stout beer (see Note below)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/8 cup (about) confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with nonstick foil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt until evenly combined. Set aside.

Melt butter, bittersweet chocolate, and white chocolate chips in a double-boiler over very low heat, stirring constantly until melted. Remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add melted chocolate mixture, beating until combined.

Beat reserved flour mixture into melted chocolate mixture. Whisk in Guinness stout beer. The batter will seem a bit thin. Drop semisweet chocolate chips evenly on top of batter (some will sink in).

Pour into prepared baking pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes on center rack in the oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean.

(Note from HG: Our batch took longer than 30 minutes to bake. After 30 minutes, we kept them in the oven and rechecked them at 5-minute intervals. I think it took an extra 10-15 minutes before they were done. Be careful, though! You do not want to overcook these brownies.)

Let brownies cool, uncovered, to room temperature. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Note: The Guinness should be at room temperature. This recipe uses a little less than a standard 12-ounce bottle of Guinness stout beer. Do not include foam in the measurement. Either spoon off the foam or let it rest until the foam subsides.

Yield: 36 to 48 brownies, depending on cut size

Recipe 2: Guinness Brownies
From Gastronome Tart blog, adapted from Bon Appetit February 2012

The hubby has officially called these his favorite brownies and he doesn’t even drink! You would never guess that Guinness is in the batter as well as the icing. The Guinness gives the brownie a depth of flavor that wouldn’t be achieved otherwise.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Guinness
  • 16 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped, divided
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

Directions:

1.Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9x9x2″ metal baking pan with foil, leaving a 2″ overhang. Bring stout to a boil in a medium sauce- pan; cook until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 12 minutes. Let cool. Reserve 1/4 cup stout.

2. Stir 12 oz. chocolate and 1 cup butter in a medium metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth.

3. Whisk sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in chocolate mixture, then 1/4 cup stout from pan. Fold in flour and 1 1/4 tsp. salt. Pour batter into prepared pan.

4. Bake brownies until surface begins to crack and a tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 35–40 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool for at least 20 minutes. Stir remaining 4 oz. chocolate in a medium metal bowl set over a sauce-pan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Add reserved 1/4 cup reduced stout, remaining 2 Tbsp. butter, and 1/4 tsp. salt; whisk until well blended.

5. Pour warm glaze over brownies. Let stand at room temperature until glaze is set, about 40 minutes. Using foil overhang, lift brownie from pan; cut into squares.

Recipe 3: Guinness Brownies
From Heather Christo Cooks [hyperlink “Guinness Brownies”

makes 36 brownies

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz dark semi-sweet chocolate pieces
  • 1 cup, plus 2 Tbs butter, soft
  • 3 cups sugar
  • ½ cup Guinness Beer
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 6 Tbs dark cocoa powder
  • 10 oz semi sweet chocolate chips

Brownies:

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2) Take a 12×16″ sheet pan, (a cookie pan with sides) and put a sheet of parchment paper down on the bottom of the pan. I then spray the top of the parchment, and the sides of the pan with non-stick baking spray.

3) Take the chopped chocolate and microwave it for 90 seconds.

4) Whisk the chocolate until very smooth. Set aside to cool.

5) In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, whip the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy. Add the beer and beat until well combined.

6) Beat the eggs in one at a time, until they are completely mixed in, then slowly beat in the cooled melted chocolate.

7) Sift the flour and coco together, and then slowly add it to the batter, mixing in until it is just combined.

8) Add the chocolate chips, and mix until just combined.

9) Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and spread evenly to the edges.

10) Bake the brownies at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Do not over bake!

11) When the brownies are finished, let them cool completely before cutting into them for the cleanest cut.

The Baking!

There was a lot going on in the kitchen as Stellar and SZ Who baked up three different recipes almost simultaneously. I learned a few awesome tips from the master, though, as I watched her skills in action.

Tip #1: If you don’t have a double-boiler, you can make one by filling a saucepan about halfway up with water and setting a bowl over it to melt the chocolate.

Tip #2: Take the bowl of melted chocolate off the saucepan to cool before you add it to the sugar and egg mixture. You do not want the hot chocolate to cook the eggs.

Tip #3: “Beat the sh*t out of the sugar and eggs.” That’s a direct quote from Stellar. We had that KitchenAid going for quite awhile, but the sugar and eggs ended up super creamy. It took a little longer for recipe 3 (pictured below) because there was sooooo much sugar. It didn’t get as creamy as the others.

Tip #4: Use parchment paper instead of foil to line the baking dishes. Stellar had a super awesome trick for doing this. She buttered the baking dish before lining it, so that the parchment paper would stick. She put one piece of parchment down to cover the bottom and two of the sides. Then she buttered that paper before using a second piece of parchment in the opposite direction to line the rest of the dish. If that doesn’t make sense, here are some pictures to help:


Tip #5: When reducing the beer for recipe 2, make sure to watch the saucepan, so that the beer doesn’t boil over.

Tip #6: Use an offset spatula to glaze the brownies in recipe 2. If you don’t have one, a rubber spatula or butter knife will work.

The Results!

We invited over two of Stellar’s neighbors for the initial taste test (I’d like to move into her building if this is a regular occurrence).

We all agreed that brownie recipe 2 was a clear winner. Its fudgy texture and rich flavor was out of the world. All it needed was a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some garnish of berries and drizzled chocolate to make it something from a fancypants gourmet restaurant.

It was a toss up between recipe 1 and recipe 3, so we took them into the office to administer the taste test to more people.

Surprisingly, not everyone found recipe 2 to be the clear winner we all thought it was. People with a sweet tooth preferred recipe 3 to all others (it had the most sugar and tasted the most like a regular brownie). And, people who liked the flavor of the beer in the brownie and the light, fudgy texture preferred recipe 1.

In this battle, I think everybody was a winner. But, if I’m ever making brownies to impress, I’ll choose recipe 2!

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