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Brownie Showdown: Chocolate Stout Brownies

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When we heard about the 26-page Pentagon brownie recipe published recently, we couldn't resist trying to bake them. Emphasis on trying. What better time for the next Chow Bella Showdown? We gathered the staff and got them baked -- er, baking.
So far, we've had the
Pentagon brownies; "Joy of Baking" brownies, Guinness brownies and Sister's Fudgy brownies. Whose cuisine will reign supreme? Tune in all week to see who baked what and learn who won in a final post by New Times food critic Michele Laudig.

Guinness is the most popular choice for adding sweet, sweet alcohol into your brownies, but the Irish import is by no means the only beer that works. If you really want to get your chocolate on, try baking with one of the many deliciously fudgy chocolate beers American craft brewers are cooking up.

The beer and egg yolks make these brownies super moist, with a silky texture that connotes decadence. The beer also provides the perfect semi-sweet kick -- a subtle tangy chocolate bitterness that's only noticeable if you're really looking for it. I quote Hank Hill: "Is there anything beer can't do?"

Zach's Tips:

For the beer, I used Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence, a stout brewed with Belgian chocolate which can usually be found in the valley's finer beer stores (I got mine at AJ's Fine Foods) and comes with the added benefit of being distributed in a 750 ml bottle -- meaning there'll be plenty left over for sipping while your brownies cook. 

I also added nutmeg because it's my philosophy that any baked good can be exponentially improved through the addition of nutmeg. It's not for everyone, however; my cousin remarked that my brownies tasted like a spicy Mexican Christmas. Take that as you will.

Chocolate Stout Brownies

Makes 16 brownies

1 tablespoon cocoa powder
½ cup unsalted butter
4 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup chocolate stout
¾ cup sifted flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts (such as macadamia, pecans or almonds)
2 teaspoons nutmeg (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a 9-inch metal baking pan by buttering it well and dusting the inside with 1 tablespoon cocoa powder. Set aside.

In 2-quart saucepan, melt the ½ cup butter over low heat. Add chopped chocolate, stirring often, until melted and smooth. Remove saucepan from heat and let cool to lukewarm (still liquid but not hot).

Stir in sugars and mix well 1 minute. In large measuring cup, beat together 2 eggs, yolks, vanilla and stout until smooth. Sift flour with salt into a separate bowl. Stir stout mixture into saucepan in thirds, alternating with flour by 1/3 cupfuls, and stirring after each addition until batter is just blended. Stir in nuts if desired. Do not overbeat.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven about 50 minutes. Let cool to lukewarm before slicing.

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