Guinness Beer Brownies And [photos of] Babes

As Edwin mentioned on Friday, we were both out of town this weekend for a mutual friend’s birthday party (we had a good time – we went out for a great dinner and then later I beat Edwin in a sit-up contest!). This friend happens to enjoy his chocolate with a side of chocolate, so Edwin and I separately embarked on a mission to create some sinfully decadent chocolate treats for the birthday boy.

guinness brownie batter

I decided to make Guinness Brownies, thinking that the Guinness would add extra chocolately richness, making them even more intense. I found a surprising number of recipes for Guinness Brownies, right now I have four of them printed out in front of me from websites like Cookie Madness, Godiva and more.

When I began comparing them all they seemed fairly similar. I considered using agave nectar in place of sugar (as a slightly healthier alternative). I also bought some Wilton’s fondant in an attempt to make fondant Miis. But then I remembered a cardinal baking rule that I always violate and usually pay for – never try something new on short notice, especially when you’re making it for someone else.

guinness brownie batter in pan

So instead I made minor baking changes and finished the brownies off with silly decorations as a gag for my friend. I used half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose white flour, and I amplified the chocolate. I used very dark Ghirardelli chocolate bars and unsweetened cocoa powder.

In place of dark bittersweet chocolate I used 7 ounces of Ghirardelli “Twilight Delight,” which is 72% cacao. Just listen to this description:

Highly aromatic, this bar has mocha, blackberry and dark cherry notes with an intense chocolate flavor and silky smooth texture. This sensuous chocolate has a long finish and a delightful, lingering flavor.

guinness brownie

I also used 1 ounce of Ghirardelli “Midnight Reverie,” with 86% cacao. Both of these are seriously dark chocolates, but I wanted to work with the heavy taste of the Guinness. The sugar, white chocolate chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips sweetened the brownies and kept them from being bitter, but the very dark chocolate and Guiness kept them distinctive.

I sifted confectioners’ sugar over the brownies when done. This was listed as an optional component in the recipes I found, but I would suggest that it’s mandatory, especially if you’re using super dark chocolate.

guinness brownies with confectioners sugar

I recommend this brownie if you’re looking to intrigue the chocolate lover who thinks they have tasted it all before. You can’t really make out the Guinness, but the taste is definitely dark. The texture is also very different from a typical brownie – the batter tasted exactly like chocolate mousse, and they came out of the oven very fluffy and light instead of tough or dense.

And, don’t underestimate the power of silly toothpick photo decorations. I printed a few of my friend’s favorite things (yes, mostly this means women on tv that he finds attractive), attached the photos to toothpicks, popped them in the brownies before serving, and we all had a good laugh!

guinness brownies with toothpick decorations

Guinness Stout Brownies
from Cookie Madness

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Ghirardelli cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
7 ounces Ghirardelli “Twilight Delight” chocolate, chopped
1 ounce Ghirardelli “Midnight Reverie” chocolate, chopped
3/4 white chocolate chips (I just used Tollhouse)
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup plus 1/4 cup Guinness Stout beer at room temperature (also be sure before you pour it into the batter that you spoon off the foam)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (for sprinkled on top at the end)
Confectioners’ sugar for sifting over the brownies before serving

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper (with enough hanging out so that you can grab it to remove the brownies). Spray sides with non-stick cooking spray where parchment paper does not cover.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.

Cut butter into cubes. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave Twilight Delight, Midnight Reverie and white chocolate chips (all chopped) with butter for 20 seconds at a time. Stir between 20 second intervals to avoid burning your chocolate.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with a regular mixer), beat eggs and sugar on high for 3 minutes. Gradually add melted chocolate mixture. Beat until fully combined. Gradually add flour mixture.

Spoon foam off of Guinness and gently whisk the beer into the batter, then add vanilla. (The Cookie Madness instructions say that the batter will seem thin, but my batter was thick although fluffy like mousse). Pour batter in your baking pan and level with a spatula. Bake approximately 28-30 minutes in the center rack of your oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. The top of the brownies should be set.

Let brownies cool in pan for 10-20 minutes, then carefully lift brownies out of the pan by holding parchment paper. Allow brownies to cool completely on wire rack. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

If you heard a scream on Monday evening at around 10:40 PM, it may have been me.

You see, my husband and I were invited to a birthday dinner on Tuesday night, so on Monday I decided that I would bake something for the birthday girl. I’d been dying to make 101 Cookbooks’ Amazing Black Bean Brownie Recipe for a long time, but you know how my husband felt about that idea. Monday night, I hoped, was my chance.

Failed Black Bean Brownies

I ran to the grocery store after work to get the ingredients, and I finished dinner just in time to start baking during the first new episode of The Bachelor (yes, I watch The Bachelor and I like it!). I also made peanut butter frosting from the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Triple Layer Cake that Edwin and I made in November to frost the brownies. What could go wrong when you have peanut butter and chocolate?

black bean failure

Fast forward to over an hour and a half later, and I had a freshly cooked and cooled black bean brownie in my hand. They smelled a little beany, but since I was assured these brownies had no beany taste to them I didn’t worry. I took the first bite and……. BEAN CITY!


Wow, I thought, maybe I just have an uncultured palate? I ate another one and it was still a black bean extravaganza; I couldn’t believe it. I slumped on the couch and furiously typed away to Edwin, whining that I didn’t know what could have gone wrong. Then, as my eyes scrolled down the ingredient list, I finally caught the problem… the enormous, outrageous, glaring problem. It is with great embarrassment that I admit to you, DinnerCakes readers, that my tired, pre-occupied-with-The-Bachelor eyes mistook 2 cups of black beans for 2 cans of black beans. Yes, I doubled the amount of black beans.

If anyone would like to try some, they are still in my fridge. I can’t bear to throw them out.

failed black bean brownies

So at 10:40 PM on Monday night I could go to bed, forget the whole thing and hope that a simple birthday card would suffice, or I could try, try, try again. I decided to press on.

I found a simple brownie recipe, and I made some changes to include the things I’d hoped to accomplish with the black bean brownies (without the black beans this time). I used bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate only, both granulated and light brown sugar, margarine instead of butter (I know it’s a “no-no,” but at this point I’d run out of unsalted butter), peanut butter chips and Taster’s Choice instant coffee. I also added cream cheese to the batter to make the brownies a little more like fudge.

mocha fudge brownies being cut

I didn’t even try the brownies when I took them out of the oven. I was scared, worn out and very late for bed! But when I finally did frost and try them the next day before the birthday dinner, they were amazing! Hallelujah!

Mocha Fudge Brownies

Somehow, I’d made it from brownie hell to brownie heaven.

These brownies are excellent. They are dense, rich and fudge-like. The peanut butter frosting and instant coffee are a great combination that give these babies some kick. I may never make brownies without adding some instant coffee again. Say goodbye to dry, “ho-hum” brownies. And please, let’s never talk about black beans.

mocha fudge brownies with peanut butter frosting

Mocha Fudge Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting
adapted from Bon Appetit

5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli for both chocolates)
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup instant coffee (I used Taster’s Choice)
1/2 cup cream cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 F and line a 13×9 inch baking pan with parchment paper (leaving some extra on the sides so that you can carefully lift the brownies out when cooled).

Combine semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl with the margarine. Microwave on high for 15 seconds at a time, stirring between intervals until melted. When melted, stir in instant coffee.

In a large bowl, combine sugars, eggs, cream cheese and vanilla extract for about 5 minutes. Beat in flour and salt, then add chocolate mixture. Stir in peanut butter chips. Carefully pour into prepared pan.

Bake brownies for 30 minutes. Note that a toothpick inserted in the center will not come out totally clean, as these are fudgey. Transfer your pan to a wire rack and cool completely. When cool, remove brownies by lifting parchment paper. Do not cut and frost until your ready to serve, and cut over a cutting board for the cleanest edges.

To make the frosting, see the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Triple Layer Cake from November. Remember to halve the recipe; if you make it as shown for the cake you will have quite a bit extra.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

Next week my husband is beginning a new career that he’s very excited about, and he asked me to bake something to take in to his office as he says his good byes. I sent him a few recipes to choose from, including 101 Cookbooks’ Amazing Black Bean Brownie Recipe that I’ve been dying to try, but Morgan wasn’t having any of it. He said he wouldn’t want them to think, “Who’s this crazy guy bringing in brownies made of beans? We’re glad he’s leaving!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies, Chopped Chocolate

Back to the drawing board!

I can’t really argue with him – office culture is not the most welcoming environment for exotic new recipes. In fact, people in general can be incredibly wary of trying new things (I should be looking in the mirror as I say this; I’m sure Morgan will be incredulous that I’m even suggesting that I’m outside this category).

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies, Adding Cream Cheese to the Chocolate Batter

I remember a number of birthday parties growing up where my mom would amass enough food to feed an army, an assortment of all my favorite things including an amazing sherbert punch. But the sherbert punch contained a lot of different ingredients along with scoops of rainbow-flavored sherbert that would float to the top – this was clearly not Kool-Aid. And so the punch would go untouched. Hmpf, kids!

But I just couldn’t bring myself to make a chocolate chip cookie or basic brownie recipe this week. This week is different! Historic and amazing things have happened in my home state of Virginia and across the country. Electricity is in the air. If anything is possible, then maybe Morgan’s office will accept something ever so slightly off the beaten path?

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies, Fresh out of the Oven

I kept coming back to two recipes: Chocolate-Pumpkin Brownies from and Pumpkin Swirl Brownies from Smitten Kitchen (though I have to be honest, even I am almost pumpkined out for the season). The RecipeGirl brownies looked more chocolatey and had less pumpkin and pumpkin spices, and the Smitten Kitchen recipe looked great but Deb seemed a little unsatisfied. I decided to compromise and try to incorporate the best of both pumpkin brownie worlds.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

Ghost Baker’s verdict and suggestions for an irresistible medley of chocolate and pumpkin:

Deb at Smitten Kitchen said she kept wishing her brownies were either all chocolate or all pumpkin and the RecipeGirl brownies looked more chocolate than pumpkin. I tried to change the recipes so that one taste might slightly overpower the other. Being that I love pumpkin, I added a whole can of pumpkin along with cloves and more nutmeg. Sometimes I think brownies run the risk of being a little bland, but adding the extra spices really kicked them up a bit. I liked them even better after they set overnight.

Deb also described her chocolate batter as being too thick. To smooth it out and make it more pourable I included 1/2 cup of cream cheese. It was certainly not as thin as the pumpkin batter, but it did help.

I also used a 13×9 pan to keep the brownies from being too enormous and thick.

Update – Success! Morgan said these brownies were scarfed down at his office in no time.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies, Chow Down

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Recipe Girl

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 can solid-pack pumpkin

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 cup cream cheese, softened

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13×9 baking pan and line the bottom and two sides with parchment paper. Grease the paper as well.

Melt chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl for 50 seconds; stir to incorporate fully.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside. Combine sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand held mixer if you don’t have one). Beat until fluffy and pale yellow, approximately 3 minutes. Beat in flour mixture in two parts.

Pour half of your batter(about two cups) into a separate bowl and stir in the chocolate mixture. Add the softened cream cheese and stir unti combined.

In the other bowl, stir together pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Transfer half of your chocolate batter to the prepared pan and smooth and level with a rubber spatula. It will be relatively thin. Top with half of the pumpkin batter. Repeat with another layer of the chocolate batter followed by the last layer of pumpkin. You have to work relatively quickly to keep the batter from setting.

With a butter knife, marble your two batters – make sure you take the knife all the way down to the bottom of the pan.

Bake approximately 27-30 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, then remove brownies by lifting parchment paper and cool completely on your wire rack.

Makes about 36 brownies.