I don’t drink much Guinness these days, which is a shame, but I have a deep, fond love for the stuff. It goes back to my college days when, tired of watered down $2 pitchers of Coors Light, my friends and I would save our pennies and splurge once in a while on Guinness pints or Black & Tan’s at our local Irish Pub. We’d eat bowls and bowls of free pretzels, play really bad games of darts and coerce Colin the bartender to do handstand push-ups on the bar. I loved that place far more than the cheaper pitcher joint packed with the pretty people. Quirky neighborhood joints with interesting clientele have always been more my thing.
Lately, especially around this time a year, I find myself adding Guinness to a lot of things. I must be getting old if I’m cooking more with beer than drinking it these days. Wonderful. I might have to do a little deeper self analysis as I’m not sure I’m OK with this but I’ve discovered some great things along the way in how much flavor Guinness can add to stews, candies, savory sauces, cakes. This recipe is a particular favorite because it emphasizes all the best parts of a stout – deep, toasty notes with caramel toffee butterscotch flavors. I could pour it directly into my mouth and be perfectly happy. And maybe I have.
This sauce, always over something deeply unapologetically chocolate, was often the highlight of beer themed dinners I catered, as it was so unexpectedly good. The combination of an unusually rich crème anglaise and a light caramel sauce with really great butterscotch flavors and none of the bitterness or sharp notes you’d expect from a dark beer paired with chocolate is tough to beat. One note of caution: the sauce is so good, so flavorful that you’d think, being a crème anglaise, it’d make a great ice cream. You would be wrong. The fat content from the cream and all those yolks is too high and gives the ice cream a strange, fatty, gritty texture. One day I’ll come back and work a good Guinness ice cream recipe out of this. Someday. Hold tight.
In the spirit of due diligence, I discovered via Google that the recipe I picked up from the catering company originally ran in Gourmet Magazine in 2005, only I was making it in giant batches. Scaled down it was exactly the same, which was a bit of a pisser, but a good recipe is a good recipe and in that spirit, I present it to you for St. Patrick’s Day. Enjoy.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: DRINK YOUR DESSERT – IT FEELS GOOD. If you play your cards right, you could build a whole dinner around a few pints of Guinness; a few more if you’re drinking them as well. Put it in the stew, work it into the Chicken Pot Pie Sauce, make this crème anglaise and it’ll be a really good night. Truth is, rather than being too gimmicky and forcing a theme, this is just really good food. At least make the anglaise for friends and family and serve it with something as simple as brownies then sit back, enjoy the company and laugh. That’s what’s really important. And have a good time drinking the remaining 3 beers you had to buy to get the ½ cup needed. There are worse things.
Four years ago: Parmesan Black Pepper Crackers
Three years ago: French Onion Soup
Two years ago: Liege Waffles
One year ago: Shaker Lemon Pie
Other Guinness recipes: Guinness Stout Ice Cream Floats, Guinness Chicken & Mushroom Boxty Pancakes, Lamb & Ale Stew (Guinness would be delicious in this one)
Other St. Patrick’s Day recipes: Irish Soda Bread, Irish Oatmeal Pudding, Soda Bread Apple Tart Tatin, Corned Beef & Potato Pancakes, Chocolate Banoffee Tart, Irish Whiskey Cakes, Reuben Knishes
GUINNESS CRÈME ANGLAISE from Gourmet Magazine
makes 1 ½ cups
½ cup Guinness (beer only – do not measure foam)
5 large egg yolks
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
pinch of kosher salt
¼ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
- Bring beer just to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, then remove from heat.
- Whisk together yolks, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl until well combined.
- Whisk in cream and vanilla, then add hot beer in a slow stream, whisking constantly.
- Transfer to saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a plastic spatula, until custard is thickened and leaves a clean trail on the spatula when you swipe your finger through (known as nape). Do not let boil. If you’re a precise type of person, this will be 175°F on thermometer. This will take around 5 minutes but texture/consistency is far more important than the time so watch it carefully.
- Place a fine sieve over a medium bowl and pour custard sauce through to remove any cooked egg bits.
- Set in a large bowl filled with ice water and stir until cool.
- Remove from ice bath and refrigerate, covered, until cold, at least 1 hour or up to 2 days in advance.
- The sauce is delicious served with anything deep and dark, like gingerbread or anything chocolate.