One of the best things about a subscription to Draft magazine are the recipes that come in each issue, all involving beer as an ingredient. As I was looking through the dessert recipes in the holiday issue, two caught my eye—the Belgian ale bread pudding and the smoked porter bacon brownies. A batch of brownies never lasts long in my household so I decided to try the brownies first, after all how can you go wrong with something that involves chocolate, beer and bacon. My friend Tom asked me if I would share the recipe, so I figured why not post it on the blog for all to enjoy.
The recipe calls for a smoked porter, but I substituted a barrel aged baltic porter that had been in my cellar for about a year, Uinta’s Sea Legs Baltic Porter. It was a gift from my friend Tricia and this seemed like the perfect occasion to open it up. After all the recipe only calls for 120 mL (1/2 cup) of the 750 mL bottle, so most of the beer would be for drinking not cooking. More on the beer at the end of the post.
Here are the ingredients as given in Draft. I made a few substitutions and tweaks though. As mentioned above I used baltic porter in place of smoked porter, the butter we had was salted, and the paprika was plain paprika rather than smoked paprika. Finally I cut the sugar back from 2.33 cups to 2 cups.
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1.33 cups dark chocolate, roughly chopped (I used dark chocolate chips)
- 1/2 cup smoked porter
- 2.33 cups sugar
- 2 whole eggs + 2 additional yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1.25 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
1. Cook up the bacon and set aside. To get the right texture you want the bacon to be crispy not chewy. I bought center cut bacon and made sure to remove any chewy pieces of fat. After the bacon cools chop it up into small pieces. Use the bacon grease to grease a 9″ x 13″ baking pan (alternatively you could use a 9″ x 9″ pan for taller, thicker brownies).
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Add the butter and chocolate to a saucepan or double boiler. Heat and stir until just melted, being careful not to overhead and scorch the chocolate. Remove from heat and stir in the beer.
4. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar, and vanilla until well combined and fluffy. While whisking continuously, slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture; whisk until completely incorporated. Sprinkle the flour, cocoa powder, salt and paprika into the bowl and stir until just combined.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and sprinkle with chopped bacon from step 1. Sprinkle the top with some additional chocolate chips.
6. Bake for approximately 40 minutes in the oven at 350 F. The brownies are done when you can stick a knife in the middle and remove cleanly.
If you like dark chocolate brownies you won’t go wrong with this recipe. The bacon adds a savory note, the roasty malts from the beer and a touch of vanilla can be discerned above the chocolate. I quite enjoyed them, and Tom asked for the recipe after eating one brownie. However, I have to admit that the brownies did not go over that well with my 14 year old daughter who normally loves brownies. Her thoughts can be summed up in a 4 word review “they taste weird dad.” She did finish 2 brownies though so they must not have been too bad. The bottom line is that they are not necessarily something for everyone’s palate. Knowing the my daughter won’t be eating them next time I might add some chopped walnuts or pecans.
Since I’m at it let me say a few things about the beer I enjoyed while slaving away in the kitchen, Uinta’s Sea Legs Baltic Porter (8.0% abv). It’s a very dark beer, nearly black and completely opaque. The dominant flavor is rich, bittersweet, dark chocolate from the malts, but there are quite a few flavors and aromas that add to that base. You can’t miss the vanilla from the barrel aging, which nicely accents the dark chocolate. Further in the background I get some bourbon flavors and some oak from the barrel. The brewers have done a masterful job coaxing complimentary flavor accents from the barrel without letting it overwhelming the base beer. The mouthfeel is pretty standard for a porter, not the silky smooth texture that you sometimes find in bourbon barrel aged beers. I’m not sure if Uinta is still making this beer, which is part of their Crooked line, but if you see a bottle and like barrel aged porters don’t pass it by.