Beer will always go with food. Pairings as fancy as the “fresh” dinners at Stone Gardens (amazing. So amazing) to the basic beer and enormous greasy pizza or breakfast burrito at 11pm at night. Where there is beer, there is most always good food. Or passable food. But as good as just eating with beer is; cooking, baking, barbecuing with beer is maybe better. Get the beer into the recipes!
Beer bread has been done (Beer Bread is a simple & tasty recipe). Many recipe books are out and about (my favorite being a San Diego native is this one, try the Older Viscosity Stout Cake!), and plenty of barbecue inspired beer options. So many recipes all around the books and web!
A favorite for our household remains a random that I found on a late night (mildly inebriated, perhaps?) search for beer based sweets. Out of eggs, flour, and other basics for a normal go-to of cake, the answer was beer brittle. So few ingredients, looked so delicious, I was sold!
Turned out great, and I’ve made it numerous times since! One of the few desserts or treats I make that my non-dessert-loving husband will devour. I’ve undercooked it (too chewy), overcooked it (not advisable), but in general it is about as simple and straightforward as anything. Turns out hard, crunchy with a solid beer taste (make sure you use a good one, please!). Toffee is with loads of butter, while brittle is fat-free aside from the nuts. This is essentially health food.
The beer brittle ingredients really are SO easy.
Beer, sugar, corn syrup, salt, vanilla, nuts.
That’s it! And probably just the first 3 would do it, but not quite as good as having all 6 parts.
For the nuts, I most often use almonds, although macadamias turned out good and was a second favorite. Using a cup, though you can do more or less depending on preference. Toast them first under a boiler in the oven. They burn fast, so keep close eye with oven door open. Once done, set aside.
Grab a pot. This cleans up easily, so no need for a fancy non-stick one. Lots of foam & bubbles as the magic is created, so make sure you go large. In this, toss in 1/2 cup of a good dark stout. The flavor of whatever you pick will be the only noticeable taste other than the sweet of sugar & corn syrup, make sure you pick well. Doesn’t have to be an expensive stout, just one with good base flavor. For this batch I used Bourbon County Brand Stout. While I usually wouldn’t go this fancy, we ended up with a LOT, hoarding it as we found it in shops, worried there might be a shortage any day. Another reason to pick a good one, you only need a half cup…the rest you’ll be drinking while this cooks. I had an IPA for drinking beer (hooray for Bell’s now distributing to California!). The 20-30 minutes that this takes, it’s approximately a 2 beer activity.
Add to the beer a cup of sugar and a tablespoon of corn syrup. This cooks on medium to medium-high until all liquid is essentially gone. Stir some, scraping bottom, and either use a candy thermometer to get to 310*F or test for it to be at the hard-crack stage, using this guide. It will take a while, be patient, it will be worth it (if you get bored, grab a 3rd beer).
As soon as it hits 310, remove from heat, add half a teaspoon of vanilla, a pinch of salt, and the nuts. Moving quickly as it gets hard to stir as it cools fairly fast, pour onto a lightly sprayed foil lined baking sheet. Spread thinly and allow to cool.
Chocolate chips can be added on top while still hot, spread around and they’ll harden as the brittle cools. Other things that can be added in: pretzels (at very end, alongside nuts, we don’t want them soggy!), chili powder for those that enjoy the beers with a little kick (Westbrook Mexican Cake, anyone?), really anything.
Original recipe I found on that drunken night a few years ago:
- 1/2 dark beer
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup toasted nuts
- Line a rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil and grease lightly with cooking spray.
- In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the beer, sugar and corn syrup. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a good simmer (watch that the mixture does not boil over, stirring occasionally if needed). Cook until a candy thermometer inserted reads 310 degrees, then remove from heat.
- Immediately stir in the salt, vanilla and nuts. Be careful, as the mixture will steam. Quickly pour the brittle over the prepared pan, spreading it thin. Cool the brittle completely, then break into pieces.
Article by: Annie Wilcox