Saturday, March 1, 2014

Let's Go Crazy! - Part 1 - Dessert

Hi there!

While I probably need to lose 20 pounds to feel like I'm not gigantic these days, it doesn't stop me from going a little overboard in the kitchen every so often. I can't help myself, I'm a loonie sometimes. To be fair to myself, when you look at cooking as an art form, and I do, well, sometimes you want to write the Great Canadian Novel with your spatula. Unfortunately, it's hard to do that without being a little calorie-indulgent because, let's face it, the tastiest things are usually *not* the lightest. So with that, I'll be taking a few posts to look at some of the crazier recipes I've made recently.

Being a grown-up, I'm starting with dessert, so there, neener-neener-boo-boo. It was one of those quiet Mondays at home: baby Olivia was asleep, WWE Raw was on the tube (I'm a wrestling nerd, deal with it) and Kari and I had just enjoyed a lovely dinner of Jambalaya. But dammit, I wanted something dessert-y. I'm not sure *how*  brownies came to the table, but once they'd been suggested, that was that, I was making brownies! I've made brownies once before, I think, but it had been a while, mainly due to my aversion to baking - there's something about the precision and inflexibility of it that scares the bejeezus out of a free-form culinary thinker like myself. That being said, there are forms of baking that are a little more forgiving than others and brownies are one of them; you can botch a recipe slightly and still have pretty tasty brownies. Do that with a loaf of bread and you're screwed.

As for the brownies, I was inspired to shake things up a bit by the beer I was drinking which had a fantastic richness and depth and wanted to add some grown-up flavour to dessert. So BOOM! Let's get to 'er!

Beer and Bourbon Brownies

Oatmeal Stout Brownie

Basically, I made this recipe, except I added walnut pieces and Smoked Oatmeal Stout from Trafalgar Ales and Meads. But I'll reproduce it anyway:

Makes 12 brownies, or 2 servings of ridiculous gluttonous decadence...


- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder (best quality you can find; I used the PC Black Label Cocoa Powder)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking powder

Added bonuses:

- 1/4 cup walnut pieces
- 1/2 cup Smoked Oatmeal Stout beer (or some other inferior dark beer)


- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan.
- In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, beer and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, walnuts and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan.
- Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook. NOTE: using the beer made the brownies a little bit moister than brownies are, traditionally. They were a little bit more like a cake/brownie fusion. If you want a "drier", more traditional brownie, bake an additional 5 minutes.

Hey look, I baked something!

Now, as you may have noticed if you checked the link, the original recipe calls for a simple chocolate frosting. I, however, made a Bourbon Caramel to top it, because I'm insane and want all the sugar and booze. Also, while baking might be an exact science, caramel's a little more loosey-goosey. Basically you cook up sugar and butter with a few other flavours and it usually turns out pretty damn tasty.

Bourbon Caramel


- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract

Next stop, a shot glass... (kidding... not kidding)


- In a saucepan, melt butter on medium-high heat.
- Stir in sugar and bourbon and bring to a boil. Add vanilla.
- Turn heat down to medium and keep stirring until caramel thickens.
- Remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes.
- Spread caramel over brownies.

The finished product and a reminder that I need a new camera, because the phonecam isn't doing the trick.

Now, if you're smart, you'll wait for the brownies to cool for a half hour before digging in. If you're me, you have one right out of the pan...

... and then, whilst the sugar demons of boozy-chocolate-caramel-awesome-ohgodthatssofrakinggood are having an orgy of blissful flavour-sex in your mouth, decide to grab the pan and a fork and eat two-thirds of it with your wife before anything has a chance to cool down... Oops.

Needless to say, these are some tasty, tasty brownies, but the real star was the Bourbon Caramel. I'm going to start putting that on my toast. And in my coffee... and maybe bring a jar to take spoonfuls from during the day... Now excuse me while I go buy a muumuu...

And there you have it! Just one way you can lose your mind in the kitchen! Don't worry, this is series is by no means over yet. Just. You. Wait. *insert ominous evil genius music* Mwa-ha-ha-ha-haaaaaaa!!!!!!


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