[Edit: I made these again. Check out my other review of them as well.]
When I expressed my enthusiasm for Black and Tan Brownies to Alex, he made faces at me. I would have been somewhat enthused by a chocolate and blond brownie combination, but the addition of Guinness is what really intrigued me, and likewise is what dampened Alex’s enthusiasm. I’ve wanted to combine Guinness and chocolate for a while, but I never do in spite of the recipes I find, simply because I know Alex doesn’t really want to try them. I can’t blame him – there’s lots of things that I really don’t want to eat, and won’t. He’s a trooper because he does try the things that he isn’t so keen on, so I don’t push him when it comes to things he really doesn’t like.
I found the right opportunity to try the brownies when Alex went to a potluck that I wasn’t invited to. He took brownies – I decided to make brownies of my own.
First you make the tan layer. This is pretty straightforward. While you bake it, you make the black layer. You melt unsweetened chocolate and butter together, then add the wet ingredients (including Guinness), then add flour, and pour over the tan layer. I’m always a little apprehensive about adding colder ingredients to melted chocolate. I’m afraid that the chocolate will harden, or eggs that I add will cook a little. Tonight, the chocolate hardened. I tried mixing with a spoon, and then I tried a whisk. I finally grabbed the hand mixer again to get the chocolate mixed into the liquid. It worked alright, not perfectly, although adding the flour seemed to help. The batter seemed thin as I poured it over the tan brownie layer. I put the pan back in the oven, set the timer, and licked the spatula.
These brownies were almost a disaster. I was so preoccupied with mixing the liquid into the chocolate that I skipped the addition of sugar.
Moral of the story: always taste the batter or lick the spoon before you pour the batter into the pan.
Luckily, only about a minute had passed, so I pulled the pan out and poured as much of the batter back into the bowl. I scraped a little more out, trying to be careful not to damage the tan layer. I quickly stirred in the sugar with a spoon. I didn’t want to let the tan layer lose too much of its heat, because I was afraid it would make the brownies bake longer.
I poured all the batter back, spread it around, and tried to clean up the sides of the pan. The brownies look normal.
Black and Tan Brownies look pretty, at least, with their separate layers. The picture in the magazine actually didn’t have such clear-cut layers, though. There’s actually a very clear textural divide in my brownies, as well, which I assume comes from my near-disaster. I wonder if I actually mixed the chocolate with the other ingredients well enough, and whether I incorporated too much air into the eggs when I resorted to the hand mixer with the chocolate layer. I’m assuming that the hot tan layer should soak up some of the Guinness layer, incorporating it as it bakes. My tan layer is actually gooey and underdone, which I discover as I work my way toward the center of the pan. The tan layer is thickest around the edges, and is particularly thin in the center.
Does it taste like Guinness? Well, some, I think so. I think there’s an extra something there in addition to chocolate. I think I’d need to have another brownie to compare it to. Mostly what I can taste right now is sweet, from the gooey tan layer.
I’m disappointed, not in the recipe, but in my execution of it. I was pretty excited about these, and I can’t tell right now whether it’s a good recipe or not because of the flubs I made. I may have to update this later. I may also need to just try the recipe again, without making mistakes that I end up trying to fix.