Monday, May 27, 2013

Irish Whiskey Espresso Brownies

After picking up a few groceries the other day, my last stop was the liquor store, where I grabbed a bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey for these brownies, as well as a bottle of Cupcake brand chardonnay to drink with our dinner of steamed mussels and Thai tuna burgers that evening.

The guy at the counter looked at the bottles, then at me, and said, "That's a weird combination."

And, ironically enough, I realize after looking at the plate I chose to photograph the brownie on - a white, lacy-edged plate - that it might also be an odd choice for a dark chocolate, whiskey-laced brownie.  But maybe it's completely appropriate, considering the unlikely pairing of chardonnay and whiskey bottles I brought home.

Maybe chardonnay sippers like me are unlikely to pour a glass of whiskey to enjoy after dinner, or maybe that's just a stereotype.  Well, the truth is, I can't stand whiskey on its own - it tastes like medicine and makes me feel like I must be sick and it's time for me to go to bed.  But, like bourbon and scotch, I suspected that the flavor of whiskey would be pretty good in something baked, so I paired it with dark, dark chocolate brownies with a generous dose of espresso powder.  The whiskey, chocolate and coffee made such a fantastic combination, and we topped our brownies with a scoop of ice cream.  Because that's simply the best way to eat a brownie.

Now, if you're not a whiskey drinker, and you're not sure you'd even like it in these brownies, then I beg you to make this recipe anyway, and just use milk instead of whiskey.  Aside from the whiskey, the brownies, their texture, their richness, their gooeyness... are possibly the most perfect ones I've ever made, and it's a recipe I will be making again very soon, in many variations.

I'm imagining it with coconut, with mint, with salted caramel, with a mocha buttercream, with peanut butter cups...

One Year Ago:     Popcorn Peanut Cookies with Grapefruit Soda
Two Years Ago:   Date Swirl Cookies

Irish Whiskey Espresso Brownies

·         6 tablespoons unsalted butter
·         2/3 cup granulated sugar
·         1/3 cup Special Dark cocoa powder
·         1 egg
·         1 teaspoon vanilla
·         ¼ cup milk
·         ¼ cup Irish whiskey
·         1 tablespoon espresso powder
·         ¾ cup all-purpose flour
·         ½ teaspoon baking powder
·         1/8 teaspoon baking soda
·         1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
·         ½ cup chocolate chunks
·         ½ cup chopped pecans

·         1 cup powdered sugar
·         2 tablespoons Special Dark cocoa powder
·         1 tablespoon espresso powder
·         1 tablespoon Irish whiskey
·         1 teaspoon dark corn syrup
·         ½ teaspoon vanilla
·         2 tablespoons hot water

Note: The espresso powder and whiskey are optional.  The espresso powder can simply be left out, if desired.  And for a non-alcoholic version, simply substitute milk for the whiskey.

Preheat the oven to 350 and spray a square baking dish with non-stick spray.

In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat just until melted.  Stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and remove from the heat.  Whisk in the egg, vanilla, milk, whiskey and espresso powder.  Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl and stir into the batter just until moistened.  Stir in the chocolate chunks and pecans.  Spread batter into the pan.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the top is cracked and the edges are set but the center still looks slightly wobbly, then cool on a wire rack.

While the brownies are cooling, prepare the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, whiskey, corn syrup and vanilla, drizzling in just enough hot water to reach the desired consistency.  Drizzle glaze over the warm brownies.  Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Yields 8-10 brownies.

Recipe adapted from Key Ingredient

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