Monday night, as the featured speaker at the Sunnyvale Public Library, I thought I’d have some fun with the audience members.
After all, if you’re going to talk about food writing, people are bound to get hungry, right?
So, I baked home-made fudge brownies for everyone, using a new recipe I recently came across. As folks nibbled away, I asked if anyone could guess the secret ingredient in these brownies.
Don’t even think it was some kind of controlled substance, though one guy did venture that guess. Other folks struck out with guesses of avocado, tofu, prunes, vinegar, black beans, red bean paste and even soy sauce.
In the end, after giving folks a hint that it was a “liquid” ingredient, one woman finally guessed the correct answer to win one of my very snazzy Food Gal aprons.
Of course, you guys reading this post have it easy. The photo above is a complete giveaway. The secret ingredient in these brownies? Guinness Stout.
“Guinness Brownies” is a recipe from the new cookbook, “Tate’s Bake Shop: Baking for Friends” (self-published), of which I recently received a review copy. The cookbook, which features more than 120 recipes, is by Kathleen King, the owner of Tate’s Bake Shop in Southhampton, NY.
After baking the initial batch, I decided to tinker with the recipe. The original recipe calls for baking the brownies in a 9-inch square pan. I only had an 8-inch square pan, so that’s what I used. Even though it was close in size, it still made for a very tall brownie, about 2 inches high, that took quite awhile to bake — about 10 minutes longer than the instructed 50 minutes.
I also found the brownies a little too gooey in texture, almost like a flourless chocolate cake, even though there is definitely flour in this recipe.
It calls for quite a bit of Guinness — 1 1/4 cups — which makes for a very liquidy batter, too.
So, for the next batch, I decided to use a 9-by-13-inch pan instead, which worked beautifully. I also added a little bit more flour to thicken up the batter ever so slightly.
This time, the brownies were fully baked in about 40-45 minutes. The texture was nicely fudgy, but not too ooey-gooey as before.
The Guinness definitely creates a moist texture. It also adds a subtle bitter edge just on the finish, which plays nicely with the earthy flavor of the chocolate.
You might not detect it right off the bat, as my audience members had a hard time doing so, too. But close your eyes, take a bite, and you’ll start to notice its presence.
The best way to enjoy these brownies? By listening to a podcast of my library talk, of course. I call it ”the good, the bad and the ugly” of food writing these days — an honest, no holds barred account of how I got into food writing and what this challenging industry is like today.
Cut yourself a big slab, then sit back and listen by clicking on here.
(Makes one 9-by-13-inch pan)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) salted butter, cut into tablespoons, plus extra softened butter for the pan
12 ounces high-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup plus 4 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup natural cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup finely packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups stout, preferably Guinness (this is 1/4 cup short of a 12-ounce bottle)
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
Powdered sugar for dusting the tops (optional)
Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom and 2 opposite sides of a 9-by-13-inch pan with a large piece of aluminum foil, pleating the foil to fit, and letting the excess foil hang over the sides. Lightly butter the foil.
In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Remove from heat, add milk chocolate, and let stand for 1 minute. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Scrape into a medium bowl and let cool slightly.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt. In a large bowl, beat eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer set on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Add milk chocolate mixture and mix on low speed until combined. With the mixer still on low speed, add flour mixture, followed by the stout, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Pour evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the batter.
Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with moist crumbs, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely. Run a knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the brownies. Lift up the foil “handles” to remove them from the pan. After completely cooled, dust with powdered sugar, if you like. Cut into squares.
Note: Because these brownies are quite moist, if you make them in the summer, it’s best to refrigerate any leftovers. Bring to room temperature before enjoying.
Adapted from “Tate’s Bake Shop: Baking for Friends” by Kathleen King
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