I asked you about St. Patrick’s Day desserts last month. I received a few requests for green desserts that aren’t necessarily mint chocolate. That one’s coming on Monday. (Any guesses??) But the outpouring of “anything with Guinness” convinced me to pick up a 6 pack and begin recipe testing. My kitchen smelled like a brewery at 9am on a Tuesday morning, but the result was well worth my boozy wake up call.
Before you run away at the thought of beer brownies, let me explain. These Guinness brownies do NOT taste like beer. Guinness stout, with its roast coffee and caramelized flavors, is often paired with chocolate in baking. They’re a natural duo because Guinness not only intensifies chocolate, but adds a malty background.
A quick internet search for “Guinness brownies” will spew out a million results. Even still, I wanted to try my hand at this popular dessert because even though brownies seem pretty basic, it’s difficult to maintain a desirable texture when you begin adding all sorts of stuff. And I was ready for the challenge.
LET’S TALK FLAVOR + TEXTURE
Dark chocolate comes to mind first. These Guinness brownies aren’t overly sweet, so you’ll find yourself grabbing another. (If it’s not the brownies that are addicting, it’s the frosting. More on that below!) If we’re talking texture, they’re very dense and very moist. In fact, they’re the moistest brownies I’ve ever baked… because they’re the only brownies I’ve ever baked with Guinness! Unlike my chewy fudgy homemade brownies, these Guinness brownies are not particularly chewy. They taste like fudge. A square of dark chocolate fudge.
HOW IT WORKS
To impart enough flavor into the brownies, we’d have to use a lot of beer. But adding liquid to brownies makes absolutely no sense. We’re not making fluffy cake. We’re making dense brownies. So let’s take what we learned from homemade strawberry cake and reduce the beer down on the stovetop first. The heat evaporates the liquid, but leaves the flavor. Little liquid, lots of flavor, won’t turn our brownies into cake. We also do this with champagne in mimosa cupcakes and these wedding cupcakes.
This step is really easy and requires zero effort from you. Pour an entire 12 oz bottle of Guinness into a saucepan. (The whole bottle! Nothing to waste!) Leave it alone to simmer for 20ish minutes, until it’s reduced down to 2/3 cup. This is less than half the liquid we started with, but triple the flavor!
We’ll use 1/2 cup of reduced Guinness in the brownie batter and the remaining 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons in the frosting.
The rest of the brownie ingredients are usual suspects. Butter, sugar, eggs, flour. Instead of cocoa powder, we’re using pure solid chocolate. Sometimes I use a combination of pure chocolate AND cocoa powder in brownies, but I wanted to keep things really simple since we’re taking extra time to reduce beer on the stove.
Besides Guinness, you know what else intensifies chocolate’s flavor? Coffee. I add espresso powder to both the brownie batter and frosting on top. It’s optional, but if you really want a deep dark chocolate brownie, don’t leave the espresso powder out.
Look at this gorgeous batter! Have I mentioned how rich these brownies are?
The brownies are great alone, but better with this frosting. Their decadent nature screams for something creamy! (That being said, eat one with a pint of Guinness in the other hand.)
This caramel colored frosting is an interesting flavor. Interesting in a good way! It’s mostly espresso flavored, though there are lingering notes of maple too. Not sure how it tastes like maple, but I suspect it’s the combination of reduced Guinness, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar. I’m not a beer expert, maybe there’s maple in Guinness?! Whatever the reason, it’s SO GOOD because it’s SO DIFFERENT.
While I urge you to make these Guinness brownies for your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, I hope you don’t limit them to March 17th. Both the texture and flavor are irresistibly decadent and unique, they deserve to be a year round treat!
- one 12-ounce bottle Guinness Extra Stout
- 3/4 cup (12 Tbsp; 175g) unsalted butter
- two 4-ounce bars (226g) semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped*
- 1 and 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- optional: 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups (240g) confectioners' sugar
- 2-3 Tablespoons reduced Guinness (from step 1)
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- In a small saucepan, bring the Guinness to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce to medium heat and allow to simmer until reduced down to 2/3 cup, about 20-22 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 (177°C) and grease a 9x9 inch pan or line with aluminum foil or parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the finished brownies out (makes cutting easier!). Set aside.
- Place the butter and chopped chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl. Melt in 30 second increments, whisking after each, until completely smooth. Whisk in the sugar and 1/2 cup of reduced Guinness until completely combined. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract. Finally, whisk in the flour, salt, and espresso powder (if using). The batter will be thick and shiny. Pour/spread evenly into prepared pan.
- Bake for 32 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. Keep checking every 2 minutes until you have moist crumbs. My brownies take about 35 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting or cutting into squares.
- Make 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 2 Tablespoons of reduced Guinness, the espresso powder, vanilla extract, and salt. Taste. Add the remaining reduced Guinness if needed. If you want the frosting a little thinner, add a splash of milk.
- Frost cooled brownies.
- Cover and store leftover brownies at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Make ahead tip: Freeze frosted or unfrosted brownies up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then bring to room temperature before serving.
*You can find 4 ounce chocolate baking bars in the baking aisle. I like using Ghirardelli or Baker's brand. You can use 8 ounces (heaping 1 and 1/3 cups) of quality chocolate chips instead, such as Ghirardelli brand.
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