June 6, 2007

Brownies and Beer

I've had several bottles of oatmeal stout sitting in my refrigerator for a couple of months. I originally bought them to mess around with real beer floats and I did come up with a formula I liked, but I still haven't tried it out on anyone else. Now I was left with four bottles of stout, and while I could just drink them, I remembered that I had a stout cake recipe tucked away somewhere. That got me thinking about baking with the stout and I ended up trying it out with some brownies.

Since I had just made a cream cheese brownie I decided to use that recipe as a base. I wanted to add a flavor to the cream cheese, but I thought that using stout in both components might be too much, so I settled on espresso for the cream cheese. The espresso and stout worked well together.

I made a half batch two weeks ago and took them to work. I did not come home with any brownies, so I took that to mean they were a success. I decided to try them one more time before posting, and an office social provided just the opportunity. They were a hit again and this time I got pictures. Alas, I cannot take credit for the photography for this post since Dana took all the pictures with the camera I gave her for Christmas. Nor can I take credit for the beautiful setting – the kitchen window and garden both belong to Martha, a master gardener and coworker.

As I was pursuing this idea I discovered a new blogging event – Miriam's browniebabe of the month – which had already happened once before. The whole idea is for a bunch of people to try out brownie (or blondie) recipes and submit them in a bid to have Miriam declare a favorite. Now brownies are a very personal food – some people are devotees of fudgy brownies (such as myself) and other people are major supporters of cakey brownies (I think you might as well eat cake, but cake is only worth eating with really good frosting all over it!). I love the idea behind this event and its a great way to find new ideas for your own kitchen. I know the matcha cream cheese brownies from the last round-up sounded really good to me.

Pick-me-up Brownies

I have given the metric and standard amounts for all the ingredients because I made the brownies in metric and the cream cheese mixture in standard – then I created approximations in both. I really do like weighing baking ingredients, but getting weight measurements in American recipes is all but impossible.

Brownie Batter

125 grams / 4.5 ounces dark chocolate (60-70%, I've made it with both and a mix)
85 g / 6 tbs unsalted butter
150 grams sugar (¾ cup sugar)
50 grams flour / ½ cup minus 1 tbs flour
¼ tsp salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup (80 milliliters) reduced stout from an 8 ounce bottle (I used an oatmeal stout)

Cream Cheese Mixture

8 ounces (226 grams) cream cheese
2 ounces (60 milliliters) espresso
2 tbs (20 grams) sugar
2 tbs (15 grams) flour
1 egg

1 10 inch square cake pan (about 25 cm)

Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C).

For the brownies:

Open the bottle of stout and pour into small saucepan and turn on medium heat. You'll need to watch it in the beginning as the carbonation may cause it to boil over even at a low temperature. You want to reduce it to about 1/3 cup which should take about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat when ready to cool slightly.

Place butter and chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat. Stir occasionally until evenly mixed. Remove from heat.

In another bowl beat eggs and sugar until well mixed and then add the salt. Stir into the chocolate mixture and then add flour and stir until just mixed.

For the cream cheese:

Beat softened cream cheese, sugar, and espresso until lump free. Add the egg and flour and mix well.

In a prepared pan (see note) pour enough brownie batter to just cover the bottom of the pan. Spread with a spatula as needed. Then pour a ripple of cream cheese mixture in thick lines until almost covering the brownie batter. Pour half of remaining brownie batter over the cream cheese and then the rest of the cream cheese, followed by the remaining brownie (a zigzag pattern looks nice, but is not necessary).

Place in oven to bake for about 30 minutes. You want the brownie set, but still fudgy. Remove from oven and rest on cooling rack until cool. Remove from pan and slice into small squares.


I like to prepare pans for baking by buttering the pan and then cutting parchment paper so that it covers bottom and sides of the pan. I cut the paper so that two sides stick up above the edge of the pan - it makes it easy to lift the brownies straight out of the pan that way.

Use your preferred method for layering the cream cheese mixture with the brownie batter. The batch that is featured in the pictures was layered by Dana and she made a nice drizzle pattern for the top, but that is definitely not necessary.