Now you’re cooking with Guinness!

“From stews, to breads, to fish fries, to oyster fests, to desserts, Guinness…

Now you're cooking with Guinness! 1
Now you're cooking with Guinness! 2

By Robin Watson
 |  Special to The Detroit News

On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone’s Irish. And thirsty.

Not surprisingly then, sales of Guinness stout — often called Ireland’s national drink — rise up from 10 million pints on an average per day worldwide to around 17 million pints on St. Patrick’s Day, according to Guinness Brewery Ambassador and certified cicerone, Jimmy Callahan.

‘Tis a fine thing.

But, sure and begorra, to only drink Guinness is to miss out on another great way to hoist a pint — cooking and baking with it. Think of Guinness stout as a sort of Hibernian helper.

“From stews, to breads, to fish fries, to oyster fests, to desserts, Guinness makes its way into dishes throughout Ireland,” Callahan notes. “Guinness ticks off the boxes for nearly everything your tongue can taste — sweetness from the malt, bitterness from the hops, sourness, acidity and umami from the roasted barley. The depth of flavor and balance of Guinness Draught, Guinness Extra Stout and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout are why they’re such favorites in the culinary world. There isn’t one note that dominates the others. The roasted barley offers a special characteristic because of the chemical Maillard reaction you also get from browning, caramelizing, searing and roasting food.”

In the U.S., using stout in baking goes way back.

Some of the oldest cakes in our country used stout because that’s what was available,” says Anne Byrn, food historian and author of “American Cake” and “The Cake Mix Doctor.”

Baking with stout added a yeasty power boost — the bread and butter of good bakes — at a time when leavening sources were scarce. The more than a century old Guinness yeast strain does even more.

“The yeast used in a beer can contribute up to 78% of its flavor,” Callahan says. “Since Guinness yeast is unlike any other beer yeast, it will create flavors you can’t achieve with anything else.”

Tapping into cooking opportunities

Looking to add Guinness to a favorite recipe or swap stout when a recipe calls for regular beer? Go for balance.

“The main consideration when cooking/baking with Guinness is what type of intensity you’re looking for,” Callahan explains. “For marinating, braising or stewing, use Guinness Extra Stout or Foreign Extra Stout because of the depth of flavor they provide. If you just want more of a hint of Guinness, use Guinness Draught.”

So, match intensities. For example, hearty, savory fare and intensely chocolaty desserts stand up well to the intensity of robust stouts.

For a rarebit with Guinness, use strong, grainy mustards and mature cheddar or farmhouse cheese, but not creamy or blue cheeses.

“Use Guinness in place of coffee or other strongly flavored liquids for a cake mix or a recipe,” says Byrn, whose “A New Take on Cake” is due out this fall. “I would add some complementary flavors such as buttermilk or a hint of cinnamon or ginger to a recipe if I were developing it.”

For chocolate desserts, Byrn adds, “Guinness, like other stouts, brings flavor and depth to baked goods. It goes especially well with chocolate because of the similar color and deep, complex flavor.”

For a chicken chili or beer bread prepared with white flour, malty, bitter, dark stout can be overwhelming, so use a lighter one, or use less.

Keep in mind that, often, a little Guinness goes a long way. And you know what that means … Sláinte!

 A Guinness Guide

Guinness Draught. The nitrogen bubbles soften the bitterness and offer more delicate flavors.

Guinness Extra Stout. This has more pronounced bitterness, plus richer chocolate, coffee and toffee flavors.

Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. This elevates dark chocolate, espresso and butterscotch flavors, as well as the fruitiness of some red wines.

Guinness Baltimore Blonde. Crisp, citrussy, bubbly, it’s ideal for beer batters.

Chocolate Guinness Stout Cake

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

For the ganache frosting

1½ cups  heavy cream

1 pound   bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

For the cake

 Butter and flour for prepping the pans

2 cups  Guinness stout

2 cups   unsalted butter

1½ cups  unsweetened cocoa powder

4 cups  all purpose flour

4 cups  granulated sugar

1 tablespoon  baking soda

1½ teaspoons   salt

4  large eggs

1½ cups  sour cream

For the frosting

Place the cream in a medium size heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Stir in the chopped chocolate and stir until it has melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour the frosting into a stainless steel bowl and set aside for up to 3 hours in advance until you’re ready to frost the cake.

For the cake

Place a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 round 8 inch cake pans that are at least 3 inches deep. Shake out any excess flour. Set the pans aside.

Place the Guinness stout and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and stir until the butter melts, about 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk in the cocoa until smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Place the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside. Place the eggs and sour cream in a large bowl and blend with an electric mixer on medium speed until just combined, about 1 minute. Add the chocolate and butter mixture and blend until just combined. Fold in the flour mixture and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans and place them in the oven.

Bake the cake until the tops spring back when lightly pressed by your finger, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and place the pans on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pans, give the pans a gentle shake and invert the layers once and then again so they cool completely right side up, about 1 hour.

To assemble the cake, stir the frosting until it’s smooth enough to spread. Place 1 layer on a cake plate and spread with about 2/3 cup of frosting. Top with the second layer and spread with another 2/3 cup of frosting. Top with the third layer, then spread the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Slice and serve.

Adapted with permission from “American Cake” (Rodale) by Anne Byrn.

Cranberry Walnut Irish Soda Bread Muffins with Whipped Maple Butter

Yield: About 20 muffins

For the muffins

½ cup dried cranberries

1 cup  Guinness Extra Stout

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

₁⁄₃ cup granulated sugar

1   egg

1 cup buttermilk

6 tablespoons Irish butter, melted

½ cup chopped walnuts

To taste turbinado sugar

For the muffins

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the cranberries and stout in a bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute, then set aside to cool.

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk and melted butter. Combine the dry and wet ingredients and stir until just blended together. Do not overmix. Gently fold in the walnuts and the cranberries with their soaking liquid.

Liberally spray muffin tins with cooking spray or line them with baking cups. Fill each section about ¾ full. Top with a liberal pinch of turbinado sugar.

Bake for about 18 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins from the tin and place on a wire rack to finish cooling.

For the whipped maple cinnamon butter

1 cup    Irish unsalted butter at room temperature

½ cup   maple syrup

1 teaspoon   ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon  kosher salt

Whip all the ingredients together to thoroughly combine. Place in a covered container. Refrigerate any unused portions.

Adapted from a recipe from  Guinness.

Guinness Colcannon Shepherd’s Pie

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

For the stew

3 pounds  lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1½ inch pieces

To taste   salt

To taste   ground black pepper

3 tablespoons   olive oil

2   medium yellow onions, diced

4   large carrots, diced

2   celery stalks, diced

6   cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

3 tablespoons  tomato paste

¼ cup all purpose flour

1½ cups  Guinness Draught

4 cups  lamb or beef broth

1   lemon, zest only

To taste sea salt

To taste  freshly cracked black pepper

1 cup   frozen green peas

For the colcannon

5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1¾ pounds), peeled and roughly chopped

To taste  kosher salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

2  leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved, lengthwise; sliced thinly, crosswise

2   garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 packed cups  shredded Savoy cabbage, divided

1¼ cups  milk

½ cup  heavy cream

To taste  freshly cracked black pepper

For the stew

Pat the lamb dry and season liberally with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in batches if necessary, brown the lamb on all sides. Remove and set aside.

Add the onions, carrots and celery to the olive oil and browned bits still in the pan. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook until the veggies are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then stir in the rosemary and tomato paste. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the lamb with its juices back to the pan and sprinkle with the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is absorbed, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the Guinness, broth and lemon zest. Use a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, then bring the mixture to a boil. Season with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Cover the Dutch oven with a lid, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 1½ to 2 hours, or until the lamb is falling apart. Add the peas and warm through. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

While the stew simmers, prepare the colcannon. Cover the potatoes with water in a stockpot and season with salt. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until they’re easily pierced with a fork, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until it’s fragrant and the leeks are just beginning to brown around the edges, about 3 minutes. Add 1 cup of cabbage and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted. Add the milk and cream and bring to a simmer. Add the potatoes and the remaining 1 cup of cabbage, then coarsely smash with a potato masher. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Dollop the colcannon over the stew. Leave open spaces or spread to cover the surface completely. Top with cracked pepper to taste, then transfer to the oven. Bake, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top of the colcannon has started to brown. Serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of Dennis Prescott.

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