Recipe development is probably one of the most compelling aspects of my job.
Sure, it has a boring name, but it makes up for it in style.
This recipe took a few tries. Four, to be exact.
Achieving a similar density between the blondie batter and the brownie batter was a challenge. And then I had to make sure the beer flavor was well-balanced as part of the dessert, and not too overpowered by the chocolate.
To top it off, I realized that it needed something salty. Not just plain old run-of-the-mill pretzel salty, though. I sprinkled these chocolate-dipped pretzels with some homemade Centennial Hop Salt. The perfect amount of bitterness and aromatics. Even suitable for the faint of hop in your life.
Style: They call it an American Brown Ale. Its depth of flavor is unmatched by most others in this style. Aged in an enormous tank made from the wood of the Palo Santo tree, this beer is really something special.
Tasting notes: Deep and complex from the uniqueness of the wood, this beer is usually a sipper for me. It tastes of super-dark cocoa and smoky vanilla. It’s sweet, and not as hot as you would expect for being 12% abv.
Other beers that would be appropriate:
Allagash Curieux: I originally wanted to make this recipe with Curieux. I thought I had a bottle stored away in the cellar, but it turns out I did not. Sadly, Allagash stopped distributing to WA, so I’ll have to wait until I can procure another bottle. Curieux is a bourbon barrel aged Belgian tripel. It’s sweet and citrusy, nicely malty, and super bourbon-forward. I’ve always thought it tasted amazing with chocolate, so this recipe is a no-brainer for it.
The pastry recipes:
Palo Santo Marron Black and Tan Brownies
(make a ¼ sheet batch of brownies)
The tan part:
|8 oz||white chocolate, chopped|
|1.5 sticks (6 oz)||butter|
|½ C + 2T (5 oz)||granulated sugar|
|⅓ C (3oz)||brown sugar, packed|
|¼ C + 1 T (2.5 oz)||Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron|
|2 C (10 oz)||AP flour|
|¼ t||baking powder|
1. Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a ¼-sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper.
2. Melt the butter, sugars, and beer all together in a saucepan over medium heat. While this is melting, measure the white chocolate into a medium-sized bowl.
3. Once the butter and sugar mixture is melted and bubbling, pour it over the white chocolate and whisk until everything is melted.
4. Add the 2 eggs and whisk to combine. Add in the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk until uniform.
5. Dump into the prepared pan and spread in an even layer with an offset spatula.
The chocolate part:
|3 oz||semisweet chocolate chips|
|¼ C (2 oz)||butter|
|⅓ C (3.5 oz)||granulated sugar|
|1 T (0.5 oz)||Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron|
|¼ C + 1 T (2 oz)||AP flour|
|¼ t||baking powder|
|⅓ C (2 oz)||semisweet chocolate chips|
1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the 1 T of beer (or water, if you like), and the sugar and whisk until bubbling and hot.
2. Pour over the 3 oz of chocolate chips (in a medium bowl) and whisk until melted. Add the egg and vanilla and whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients and whisk until uniform. Fold in the 2 oz of chocolate chips.
3. With a large piping bag, pipe 5 stripes along the top of the tan blondie batter. Drag a paring knife at a 90° angle across the pan, back and forth, to create the design. If you’re not comfortable with piping, just drop spoonfuls of brownie batter on top of the blondie batter and swirl randomly with a knife.
4. Bake for 40 minutes, rotating the pan once at the halfway point. Check that a knife inserted in the center comes out clean before you remove the brownie.
5. Once cool, run a knife around the outside, invert, and cut into 2.5-inch squares and garnish with chocolate-dipped pretzels sprinkled with hop salt (info below).
Chocolate Dipped Pretzels with Hop Salt
(makes 20 chocolate dipped pretzels)
|20 ea||mini pretzels|
|5 oz||dark chocolate, chopped|
|2 ea||Centenniel hop pellets|
|½ C + 2 T||kosher salt|
1. Melt the chocolate in a metal bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water (I call this a bain marie sometimes).
2. Meanwhile, process the hop pellets in the food processor with 2 T of the kosher salt until fairly well-combined. Mix with the remaining ½ C of kosher salt and store in an airtight container for up to 2 months. I used Centennial hops for their super-citrusy flavor and aroma. They are quite bitter, though. So you might want to go with a lower AA hop if bitterness isn’t your thing.
3. When the chocolate is melted, dip each pretzel (i only dipped half of each) and lay on a sheet of parchment. Sprinkle with hop salt and allow to sit at room temperature until set.
Next project? Either a shortbread with hops I’m working on for NHC treats, or a beer-infused creme brulee.