Brownie Showdown: Frosted Guinness Brownies

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When it comes to brownies I want them dark and bittersweet, which could explain that unfortunate goth phase in college. I am also of the firm opinion that beer enhances just about everything, likely also a holdover from the college daze.

After trolling the Internet for recipes that combined my two loves, this modified version of Peggy Trowbridge Filippone's Guinness Stout Brownies is my new go-to.

(recipe after the jump)

Since these bars are so rich and indulgent, I whipped up a batch of silky frosting to up the decadence and add a little extra sweetness. Naturally, it also contained a hefty amount of beer. Even if you aren't a fan of Guinness, don't let that keep you from trying this recipe. All of the alcohol is cooked out of the brownies and the flavor is masked by the deep chocolate taste.

Brownie Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (I cleaned out my cabinet and ended up with Ghirardelli's 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chips and half a Ghirardelli's 70% Extra Bittersweet Baking Bar)
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
10 ounces Guinness Extra Stout beer, room temperature
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. When measuring dry ingredients that tend to settle (like flour and cocoa powder) stick a whisk or fork in the container and stir it around to fluff up the contents. You'll get a perfect measure and never have to sift another cup of flour again.

2. If you have a double boiler, you're an overachiever that probably has an even better recipe for Guinness brownies on the back burner. Congratulations. If you're like the rest of us, balance a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. Viola. Double boiler.

1. Melt the butter, bittersweet chocolate and white chocolate chips using a double boiler (or the ghetto-fab alternative). Whatever you do, don't step away from the double boiler to take a phone call or soothe a crying child. Crying develops character. There is absolutely no salvaging burnt chocolate. After the chocolate mixture is completely melted, set it aside to cool.

2. Using a hand or counter-top mixer (or thirty minutes of sheer stubborn manpower) whisk the four whole eggs and cup of sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about three minutes. (Your arm will feel like burning hot hate if whisking by hand at this point.)

3. Add the chocolate mixture to the sugary eggs. It will sink to the bottom. Gently fold until the chocolate is fully incorporated. Ignore the recommendation to fold if you prefer a denser brownie.

4. Freak out because you forgot to pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Do so. Take a swig of the left over Guinness to fortify your nerves. Grease a baking pan. 9 x 13 inches is standard, but really any size will do. Just check more frequently for done-ness.

5. Add your perfectly whisked and measured flour, cocoa, and salt to the chocolate mixture. Fold until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Don't go crazy with the mixing or you'll over activate the gluten and end up with tough, gut-bomb bricks instead of brownies.

6. Add the room temp Guinness and gently stir to incorporate. Observe the loose, runny quality of the brownie mix and question whether you correctly measured everything. Toss in the semi-sweet chocolate chips and walnuts.

7. Pour brownie mix into your greased baking pan and plop it into the (hopefully) pre-heated 375 degree oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. A few moist, chocolaty crumbs sticking to the toothpick are a-okay.

8. Allow the brownies to cool completely. Seriously, if you don't wait until completely cool when you apply the frosting it will melt into a buttery mess. This is the annoying voice of experience speaking.

Guinness frosting:
10 ounces of Guinness Extra Stout beer
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

1. Simmer the Guinness in a small sauce pan, stirring frequently, until it has reduced in volume to several tablespoons of liquid. You will have cooked away all the evil alcohol and be left with Guinness concentrate at this point.

2. Cream the butter and vanilla extract with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.

3. Begin adding the powdered sugar in small increments to lessen the inevitable "poof" of sugar once you start the mixer. Accidentally inhaling that sugary sweet cloud may start as a novelty, but everyone knows it leads to more hardcore baking fixes down the road, like snorting unrefined turbinado sugar.

4. Add the Guinness concentrate whenever the frosting mixture starts to get too dry. Taste often and use as little or as much of the Guinness flavor as you like.

5. Frost the brownies and enjoy with a tall glass of milk Guinness.

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