Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Just Add Baileys

There are certain things in life that just don't get a fair shake, like Thanksgiving, non-athletically inclined college students in West Texas, and brownies. But somehow, if you add booze to all three, people really seem to enjoy them so much more. Well, I can't speak for the rest of my fellow West Texas klutzes that never made football or cheerleading because both of their feet refuse to function at the same time, but it worked for me. We may not know the glow of Friday night lights and football mania, but we certainly do get a nice glow ourselves after a glass of wine. Anywho, back to my point. Brownies seem to be one of those desserts that function better as a part of something bigger than themselves: hot fudge brownie sundaes and chocolate chip cookie dough brownies for instance. Brownies are usually more of a serving platter in the dessert world, but I wanted to make brownies that would stand tall above the rest. Brownies with wow factor. And if there's one thing I've learned as the boozy baker, it's that Baileys makes everything better. Guinness doesn't hurt, either. Enter the Baileys brownie with Guinness ganache:
Are you drooling? Because it's totally acceptable if you are.
I love fudgy brownies. I only eat brownies that are so dense that TSA wouldn't let a pan through airport security because it could also function as a hefty weapon. They may weigh five pounds, but these melt on your tongue. They also travel well. We took this batch on a seven-hour drive to San Antonio to visit my in-law's for Father's Day and my mother-in-law's birthday. I couldn't very well show up without a dessert for such an occasion! These made the trip without getting weird or melty or eaten by the dogs (or more realistically, me). So if you've got a trip coming up and you want to remind people why they should enjoy your presence so much, bring a pan of these bad boys. It works! You also get the added bonus of being able to throw these together with a few simple ingredients in a short amount of time, but things still look bakery quality without the added fuss (and cussing) that usually comes along with it!
See, I wasn't lying.
Since these brownies were traveling, I placed them in an 8x8 foil pan that was greased very heavily. You can go this route or spray an 8x8 pan with a borderline ridiculous amount of Baker's Joy and/or Pam. Preheat your oven to 350 and gather up:
  • 1 cup of butter 
  • 2 cups of semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar (I used dark for added richness)
  • 2 eggs (preferably at room temp for easier blending)
  • 1/2 cup of Baileys (I used original, but salted caramel would probably take these to a whole new level)
Start by dumping the butter and chocolate chips into a medium bowl and melting in the microwave for a minute. Stir until everything is evenly melted. If you need more time in the microwave, only go in 20-30 second intervals, stirring between each one. Set this aside to cool off. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder. In your stand mixer bowl, mix the sugar, eggs, and Baileys on low until well incorporated. Add in half the dry mix, blend, and then add in half the butter/chocolate mix and blend. Scrape the bowl before adding in the rest of the dry mix blending, and the rest of the chocolate mix. Blend until things are nicely mixed.
Do I have to bake them? Mmm, brownie batter.
Dump the brownie mix into your greased pan. If using a flimsy foil pan, place your pan on top of a cookie sheet before baking. A regular pan will be fine without the extra support. Bake in the middle rack of your oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean.
Here's where the real magic happens.
Once cooked, remove and place on a cooling rack. Take a 1/4 of a cup of Baileys or a little less if you're not as obsessed as I am with the stuff. Brush the Baileys on top of the warm brownies until they achieve this look:
I call this the "drowning in booze" look.
At this point, move the brownies to the fridge to cool for an hour or to the freezer for 30 minutes. Wait until they are fully cooled to top with the ganache.
I bought so many bags of chocolate chips for this recipe. Wildly over compensated.
Okay, I've had this one bottle of Guinness in the fridge for months waiting to bake these brownies. I even had to label it so my husband wouldn't drink it. Don't worry, he got to drink the remainder of what was left which was about 3/4 of a Guinness. He didn't have to suffer. And he got some boozy brownies out of it, too, so don't feel too badly for him. To make your own ganache you need:
  • 2 TBS Guinness stout or regular
  • 2 TBS of butter
  • 3/4 cup of chocolate chips
  •  1/4 cup of powdered sugar
This is super difficult. Reread these steps at least ten times before trying to make the ganache. Are you ready? Can you handle it? Here we go...

Dump the Guinness, butter, and chocolate chips in a bowl. Microwave for a minute, stir until everything is melted, and whisk in the powdered sugar.

Still with me? Told you. Super difficult. I apologize for how hard that must have been for you.
Dump your ganache on top of the brownies and use a rubber spatula to smooth out.
You could be done at this point, but nothing says festive like glitter sprinkles, so I highly advise throwing some on top of your ganache before it sets.
I'm really into the wow factor this week, what can I say.
When baking for your in-law's, you really want to prove to them their child has not married some heathen, so use glitter sprinkles as a gentle reminder that their son or daughter is in good hands. Anyone who takes the time to work with glitter sprinkles must be a fun and loving spirit, right? That's what I'm going with, anyway. Plus, pretty! These made the brownies look that much more decadent because they literally got stamped with gold stars for approval:
Can thin, wimpy, non-fudgy brownies say the same? No. No they cannot. But Texas sheet cake cookies certainly can, too.
I died a little when I ate these. They're just that good. I couldn't believe I went all my life without thinking to add Baileys to brownies and topping them with Guinness-laden ganache. Luckily, I had these brownies to comfort me in my time of sadness. My grief over waiting almost 30 years to eat brownies this good lasted literally a millisecond until the next bite. I wanted to sit down and eat them four at a time, but that probably would've given me a terrible gut bomb and made a less-than-thrilling impression on my in-law's. "So she's not a heathen, just a glutton." I was more than happy to share. I thoroughly enjoy hearing the "yum" noises people make when they bite into my desserts. I feel this is an involuntary noise people make without even being aware of it, so it's a good method of judging how things turned out. This, immediately followed by silence until plates are cleaned equals a winner. Needless to say, I will be using this recipe as my staple brownie formula from now until the end of time. There's no overwhelming alcohol taste--Baileys is so perfect for complementing the flavor of chocolate that it's simply amazing. The Baileys also helps to keep things nice and moist, cause let's face it, brownies this fudgy and rich will take a few days to devour. And that grueling, time consuming ganache? We all know the only way you can improve a Baileys/chocolate combo is by adding Guinness somewhere into the mix, too. Move over cakes, varsity players of the dessert world, brownies have finally come into their own! 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!
Finally, a brownie that won't leave you wondering what else is at the dessert table!

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