Going Stout Instead Of Green For St. Paddy’s Day

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on March 10, 2012


When it came time to think about what desserts to make for St Paddy’s Day, I didn’t want to do the more traditional ones of the green variety…don’t get me wrong, they’re fun to make and eat, but there are some other great flavors out there that are enjoyed by many, but not always so commonly used to make sweet treats.

The one in particular that I’m referring to is the deep dark flavor of a great stout beer. This flavor is not something that is truly appreciated by the younger crowd, but rather enjoyed by a more mature audience who have outgrown many of the pale ales of their youth and who are now looking for beers with more flavor and character.

I say this, tongue in cheek, because I include myself in that category. In my younger days, the flavor of a dark beer was simply too bold and assertive for me and I just could not get past the first few sips…but these days, I will take a good, dark heady beer or stout over anything else.

So, my choice for dessert was simple…I was going to make something with stout…but what?

The more traditional use of stouts is in chocolate cakes since the dark and bold roasted malt flavor compliments anything with chocolate, caramel or coffee flavor.

My dessert was finally starting to come together…chocolate stout cake with stout caramel sauce and vanilla bean semifreddo…

My next decision was deciding on what type of stout to use. The dry stout is dark black and often has a coffee like taste with a roasted flavor character. The majority of stout produced in Ireland is of the dry variety. The alcohol content in these varies, and Guinness which is one of the more popular brands has less alcohol than most American beers.

Milk Stouts also have a dark color and have even less alcohol than dry stouts. The main difference is that they have lactose (milk sugar) added into the brewing process, making the stout sweeter and smoother.

Imperial Stouts are usually more of a dark brown than black in color and these have a higher alcohol than the others which is evident, and was brewed for consumption in countries with colder climates.

The last one is an Oatmeal Stout which is similar to a milk stout, but even more sweet and silky. It usually has a bittersweet finish because of the oats and it makes a good companion for many desserts.

Well, my choice was pretty simple…I was going to try to find a good oatmeal stout, and if I could find a good chocolate oatmeal stout that would be even better. So off I went to my local liquor store that is managed by my friend Billy to pick his brain on what would be best to use.

I got lucky…there were a few chocolate stouts available. The first was Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, a product from the UK and the other was called Heavy Seas, Siren Noire from a Maryland brewing company called Clipper City. Both were delicious to drink but the local Maryland brand was almost $10 per bottle and the other was half the price. Billy suggested the less expensive product for my baking needs and felt that it would yield an exceptional tasting product…that’s why he’s my ‘go to’ man…he’s honest AND smart…

I ended up using the very delicious chocolate fudge cake recipe that I highly recommend for everyone to try, and instead of using water, I used the stout but also added a good quality instant coffee (I only use Medaglio D’oro instant espresso) to really bring out the coffee notes.

The resulting flavor of the cake is very chocolaty as it always is, but it definitely has a wonderful finish at the end that really lingers from the addition of the beer. I also made a delicious caramel sauce by reducing the rest of the beer that remained (by half) then added some sugar and finished it with some heavy cream and a bit of butter.

You will NEVER guess what the sauce tasted like…Are you ready? It tasted like buttered toast! Totally unexpected but absolutely fabulous and delicious in every way…The cake, sauce and semifreddo were OUTRAGEOUS together…So if you are going to be doing some reveling on this St. Paddy’s Day, make sure to pick up an extra bottle of stout…this cake with the accompanying sauce is something everyone must experience…

Chocolate Cake (2-9” cake layers)

¾ cup dutch cocoa powder (3 oz), sifted

1 cup imperial double chocolate stout beer (8 fl. oz or 7 oz by weight), heated in microwave

1 cup buttermilk (8 fl. oz or 7 oz by weight)

1 tablespoon Medaglio D’Oro instant espresso coffee (I only use this)

2 cups granulated sugar (15 oz)

2 large eggs (3.6 oz)

½ cup vegetable oil (3.5 oz)

1 tablespoon vanilla

1¾ cups flour (9 oz)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

Add the sifted cocoa powder to a medium sized bowl and pour in the cup of hot stout then whisk until completely dissolved. Next add the buttermilk to cool down the mixture, then add the sugar and whisk until all is combined. Add the eggs, oil and extracts and mix again. Sift together all of your dry ingredients and then whisk this into the wet mixture until you no longer see any lumps. The batter will be thin, so don’t worry. Pour it into 2-9” greased cake pans and bake at 350°F for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean and the cake springs back when touched in the center. Allow to completely cool before cutting.

Caramel Stout Sauce (makes about 1 ½ cups)

1 cup imperial double chocolate stout

½ cup sugar

1 cup cream

1 teaspoon butter, add last for shine

Put the 1 cup of stout into a small pot and heat until reduced by half. Add the granulated sugar and stir well then continue to cook until it you begin seeing a slow bubble, which will tell you that it is at the hard crack stage (about 10 minutes). Once it has come to this stage, remove the pot from the heat and add the 1 cup of cream. Stir the cream in quickly with a wooden spoon to incorporate well. This will thicken slightly as it cools. Add the butter last into the sauce for shine while the sauce is still warm but not hot.

Vanilla Bean Semifreddo

6 yolks

¼ cup powdered sugar (add to yolks, powdered sugar yields a firmer product)

1 tablespoons vanilla extract

1 split vanilla bean (about ¼ teaspoon of paste)

1 ¼ cups heavy cream

¼ cup powdered sugar

First, add the cream and the powdered sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer and whip until the cream is firm, then put this into another bowl and refrigerate. Separate the yolks and put them into the bowl of your stand mixer then add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and vanilla bean and whip together right away. Never let sugar sit on top of egg yolks for any period of time because it will ‘cook’ the surface of the yolk. Set this bowl over a double boiler with slowly simmering water, but do not allow the bowl to touch the water or it will cook the yolks. Whip this mixture for approximately 10 minutes, continually whipping the mixture until it is pale yellow. When ready, feel the yolk mix with your fingers and it should be very warm but not hot. Remove the bowl from the double boiler and put this to continue whipping on your stand mixer, until it cools completely and has become pale and slightly thick. At this point, add the yolk mixture into the whipped cream and fold in well. Place it into your serving ramekins or into a large bowl so that you can scoop out portions right before service. Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight for best results. The texture of the semifreddo is very delicate, smooth and creamy, and can be molded into different shapes…however it does not get extremely hard.  If you are going to mold them into shapes that you will invert onto a plate, I recommend using silicone molds that have been lightly oiled, so that the ice cream can pop out easily.

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