When I volunteered for the August installment of The Sessions, I immediately decided upon the topic of desserts made with beer. I had recently purchased a copy of Sam Calagione’s Extreme Brewing [Amazon] and I had brewed Blood Orange Hefeweizen and I had made the Smoky Maple Porter BBQ Sauce so at that moment I was eager to try out a few of the dessert recipes.
I began my exploration of beer desserts not by making some desserts myself but by asking a friend of mine, chef Andrew Giddens of Muirwood Kitchen, his thoughts on beer desserts. I provided the beer, Anderson Valley Brewing Company’s Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout, and Andrew made a stout cake topped with brandied cherries in a rum sauce. The cake was fluffy and delicious and the flavor of the beer was discernible and added a nice roasty and sweet malt flavor to the cake. Thank you Andrew for the wonderful dessert!
Next on my list of beer dessert to sample was a recipe that I found on Epicurious.com for chocolate stout pudding with whipped cream. The original recipe is called Chocolate Guinness Goodness and according to Epicurious “was developed by Shane Philip Coffey, the chef at Alias restaurant on New York City’s Lower East Side” for a St. Patrick’s day menu. I decided that there are much more interesting flavors in almost any other brand of stout than Guinness so I opted for a bottle of Beer Republic’s Big Bear Black, a robust and flavorful imperial stout.
Another change that I made to the original recipe was to add about 1 tablespoon of sugar to the whipped cream. The recipe call to add reduced stout to the whipped cream and the flavor of the stout is so roasty and bitter that it needed some sugar to balance the bitterness. Finally, I used Sharffen Berger 70% cacoa chocolate to make this a California beer dessert in every aspect.
This is a very simple recipe to follow and the result is a rich dense pudding with e fluffy off-white whipped cream that makes it look like a small glass of beer. The taste has tons of chocolate goodness and a hint of roasty and malt flavor. I think the sugar and chocolate, however, overshadows the flavors of the stout a little bit. Next time I might try to use just a bit less sugar to see if that will bring out more of the beer flavor.
Last, but certainly not least, in my beer dessert adventures was a recipe from Extreme Brewing for Tripel-Poached-Pear Dessert, a wonderful and fairly simple dessert of poached pears in a sauce made of a Belgian-style tripel ale. Since I was leaving for Belgium 4 days after I made the recipe, I decided to try the recipe with a Canadian tripel, Unibroue’s La Fin Du Monde, instead of a Belgian-made tripel. I halved the recipe and used vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean. The recipe is as follows:
- 4 ripe pears
- 5 oz. La Fin Du Monde tripel
- 3 teaspoons honey (from Xinjiang, China)
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cinamon stick
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves
- vanilla ice cream
First, I made some incisions into the bottom of the pears. I’m not sure what this was for but I did it anyway. I dropped the whole pears into boiling water for 45 seconds, which should have been longer for my pears were a bit under-ripe. Next, I dried, pealed, and quartered the pears.
For the sauce, first I poured some of the La Fin Du Monde into a glass and sampled it. Delicious! Then I poured the amount for the recipe into the saute pan and heated a bit before adding the honey, sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon stick. When adding the sugar and honey, I made sure to dissolve it in the liquid before proceeding. I brought the sauce to a boil and then reduced it to a simmer. When the liquid was thick enough, I mixed in the pears and simmered for another 5-10 minutes and then I removed the pears. Next, I added the mint leaves and cooked those in the sauce for about 1-2 minutes or about long enough for them to wilt and release their aroma. I removed the mint leaves and the cinnamon stick and the cooking was done.
I served the dessert with vanilla ice cream topped by the pears with everything covered in the tripel sauce. This dessert was delightful. The beer added a bit of malt sweetness but more than that added a clove spiciness and a hint of banana that is so characteristic of Belgian-style tripel ales. Since I had a glass of the beer while cooking the dessert, it was unmistakable that the beer was essential to the flavors of this dessert. I highly recommend trying this recipe, just be sure to use ripened pears.