Brownies with Christmas Ale
Quantity: makes 25 or 45 depending on thickness and size of the baking tray
Time taken: an evening’s work
Utensils: a deep baking tray, grease-proof paper, oven and a few saucepans
For the brownie: 300g butter, 425g dark chocolate (70%), 5 eggs, 125g coconut blossom sugar, 125g white sugar, 30g honey, 5g baking powder, 240g flour, 6g salt
For the chocolate ganache of caramel and Christmas beer: 120g sugar, a few tablespoons of water, 120g St.Bernardus Christmas Ale, 120g full-fat cream, 200g dark chocolate (70%)
For the salted caramel: 75g superfine sugar, 40g butter, 2 tbsp water, 4 tbsp cream, fleur de sel
1 handful of hazelnuts (skins removed)
BROWNIES WITH CHRISTMAS ALE
Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.
Melt the butter with the chocolate, au bain-marie, or otherwise, at a very low temperature.
Beat the eggs with the sugars and honey until it forms a ribbon (‘ruban’). This process may take some time.
Stir the mixture of melted and butter and chocolate into the egg-and-sugar mixture (the ‘ruban’).
Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Fold in carefully to make sure the mixture does not form lumps.
I was using a rectangular baking tray with a 4 – 5cm rim and covered the inside with a baking sheet. If you are using a deep oven tray, cover the bottom as well as the sides with baking paper. This will help you remove the brownies after baking.
Pour the chocolate mixture into the tray. Make sure it is distributed evenly and tap the tray on the worktop a couple of times to remove any remaining air bubbles.
Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Towards the end, insert a fork to test that the brownies are done. If the fork comes out clean, your bake is ready. I added another three minutes to the oven time and my brownies came out perfectly. Of course, this depends on the thickness, the size and the oven settings.
Take out of the oven and cool down.
In the meantime, prepare the ganache. Dissolve the sugar into a few tablespoons of water, melt on low to medium heat to achieve a brown caramel. Lower the temperature by stirring in the beer and cream. Then, whisk into a loose mixture.
Break the chocolate into pieces, add to the mixture, remove from the heat but continue to stir until smooth. Pour into a measuring jug and allow the ganache to firm up in the fridge for between 30 minutes to an hour.
Then, pour the ganache over the brownies – these should be lukewarm to cool by now.
Roast the hazelnuts in the warm oven until they take on a slightly brown hue. Cool down, chop and sprinkle over the ganache. Place the brownie in the fridge to firm up.
Now prepare the salted caramel. Heat the sugar with the water and melt until it forms a brown caramel. Add the cream to lower the temperature. Stir until dissolved and don’t forget to include the bits that stick to the bottom of the saucepan. Add the butter and the salt. Pour into a heat-proof spray can and cool down fully.
Pipe the caramel over the brownie. Carefully remove the brownie from the mould and cut into squares. Store in the fridge.
Serving tip: serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, Abt 12 ice cream or give it some extra freshness with mango or passion fruit sorbet.