Black and Tan Brownies

After nine fantastic days away from the office, Shane went back to work this morning.  Returning to reality after vacation is never easy.  To soften the blow, I wanted to bake him a treat to bring into the office and share with his coworkers.  As I flipped through recipes looking for inspiration, I kept coming back to the idea of baking something with Guinness.  It’s one of Shane’s favorite beers, and the chocolate stout cake I made incorporating it a few months ago was a giant hit.  Once I’d decided to make a boozy dessert, these black and tan brownies popped into my head.  They’d been on my radar since I came across them back in March while searching for St Patrick’s Day recipes, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally try them.

If you’ve never come across a Black and Tan, it’s a drink made with a pale ale (usually Bass) and a dark beer such as a stout (usually Guinness).  The Bass is added to the glass first, and then the Guinness is slowly poured over a spoon onto the Bass.  If done correctly, the beers won’t mix – the Guinness will instead sit on top of the Bass, so you end up with a layer of tan on the bottom and black on top (hence the name).

Black and Tan Brownies

Just like the drink that inspired them, these brownies have two distinct layers – on the bottom, a tan blondie-like brownie, and on the top, a chocolate brownie infused with Guinness.  The top layer was rich and fudgy, with just a hint of bitterness from the Guinness.  It paired perfectly with the sweetness of the brown sugar in the bottom layer.  I don’t like Guinness at all, but I still enjoyed these brownies; I think they’d be perfect with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!  My only minor complaint?  I had a bit of trouble getting them out of the pan.  It’s definitely easier if you refrigerate them overnight (you’ll get cleaner cuts that way too).  I might also line the pan with parchment or foil next time I bake these.  Shane enjoyed a few Black and Tans while we were in Vegas, so hopefully these brownies were almost like a little slice of vacation to bring back to the office today.

Black and Tan Brownies
from Cooking Light, March 2010

Tan Brownies
1 cup (4 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Black Brownies
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Guinness Stout, at room temperature
1 cup (4 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F with a rack in the lower third. Spray a 13×9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

To make the tan brownies: Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla, beating until well combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients, beating just until combined.

Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan. Use an offset spatula to spread the batter in an even layer (it will be a thin layer). Bake for 15 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack while you make the black brownies. Maintain oven temperature and move a rack to the center of the oven.

To make the black brownies, add the chocolate and butter to a large heatproof bowl. Microwave at 50% power in 30-second bursts, stirring in between, until the mixture is melted and smooth. Whisk in the granulated sugar. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and Guinness and whisk until well combined. Stir in the flour and salt until the batter is uniform (it will be a thin batter). Pour the black brownie batter over the tan brownies in an even layer – don’t pour in the center and attempt to spread it or you’ll end up marbling the black and tan layers.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool the brownies completely in the pan. Cut into squares before serving (I highly recommend refrigerating the brownies for a few hours before cutting them, it makes life easier).