I am in a scotch and cigar club and occasionally I’ll bake something for the crew. Last week I decided to make stout brownies with a stout frosting. These were such a hit that I was politely told that they had replaced my usual chocolate chip cookies at the top of the favorites list.
For those who are not that familiar with stout beer, stout is a dark beer commonly associated with undertones of coffee or chocolate. The word stout itself was first used in 1677 in the “Egerton Manuscript” and implied a strong beer. You may have heard the term porter which—for much of history was used interchangeably with the word stout—and was used to describe a dark beer. The word porter was first used in 1720 to describe “the thick and strong beverage…consumed by the working class.” Nowadays, in an age of craft breweries, there is a distinction between the two: brewers have come to a consensus that porters are made with malted barley while stouts are brewed with unmalted barley. Historically, stouts were the strongest of beers, 7-8% alcohol by volume (ABV) but don’t have to be! Guinness Draught, the world’s best-selling stout is 4.1-4.3% ABV.
This recipe calls for you to reduce the stout (Guinness or any other type of stout) to 2/3 of its original volume. I made these in the morning before work and I thought this wouldn’t take very long but I was late to work that day on account of slowly simmering beer for longer than expected at 7:00am.
- one 12 oz bottle stout beer (you could use Guinness, I found Founder’s Breakfast Stout at Grove Market)
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter
- 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chunks (I like the kind from Trader Joe’s)
- 1 and 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- optional: 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2-3 Tablespoons reduced stout (from step 1)
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
In a small saucepan, bring the stout to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, lower to medium heat and allow to simmer until reduced down to 2/3 cup, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes. You will use 1/2 cup in the brownies and the rest in the frosting.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9x9 inch pan and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the finished brownies out. Set aside.
Place the butter and chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl. Melt using the microwave on high in 30 second increments, whisking after each, until completely smooth. Mix in the sugar and 1/2 cup of reduced stout until completely combined. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract. Finally, whisk in the flour, salt, and espresso powder. The batter will be thick and shiny. Pour and spread evenly into prepared pan.
Bake for 35 minutes, then test the brownies with a toothpick. Insert it into the center of the pan. If it comes out with wet batter, the brownies are not done. If there are only a few moist crumbs, the brownies are done.
Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting and cutting into squares.
The frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the confectioners' sugar, beating on low at first then increasing to high speed. Once creamy and combined, beat in the remaining reduced stout, the espresso powder, vanilla extract, and salt.
Taste. If it’s too thick, you can thin it out with a bit of milk. If it’s too thin, add more powdered sugar. Frost cooled brownies.
Cover and store leftover brownies at room temperature for up to 1 week but if your friends are anything like mine, you won’t have any leftovers.
Sally Baho is passionate about life and living it richly. She is a writer, researcher, and recipe developer. Sally enjoys running, food, the outdoors, travel, good conversation, reading, and poetry among many others. She lives in Monterey, California.