‘Here’s to a long life and a merry one
A quick death and an easy one
A pretty girl and an honest one
A cold beer and another one!’
I love St. Patrick’s Day.
I swear that in my past life I must have been a leprechaun, an Irish jig dancer, or a bottle of Guinness. Or even better, a leprechaun doing an Irish jig while drinking Guinness.
Sigh. What a happy image.
Why do I love St. Patty’s Day so much, you ask?
Come closer, pull up a chair. Have a pint and I’ll tell you.
You see, I come from a large family. A very large raucous family. They are fun-loving, generous, and good-spirited. I adore them and I’m proud to be affiliated with the lot of them.
We are Peruvian.
We cook a lot, eat a lot, dance a lot, and drink a lot.
The only exception would be lance a lot as we do not participate in the sparring.
Though, that would be an excellent idea for our next themed party.
So, you can see the common relationship between my family and that of a full-swing St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Family, friends, good food and drink, and dance go hand in hand. It’s a day of reveling with high spirits and joyful hearts.
This is why I love it.
For me, Guinness is synonymous for St. Patrick’s Day. It is quintessentially and irrevocably my favorite go-to stout. She’s toasty, nutty, and lusciously rich. She also has a nice dark and smooth espresso note to her that I love. As thick and creamy as she is, I can easily just drink a pint of her and call that my meal. Responsible? No. Healthful, even? Not at all. But, delicious? Hell yes.
So, as I got to thinking about making a dish for this blessed holiday I knew I wanted to incorporate this femme fatale into my plan.
My mind went straight to something sweet as I knew the dark chocolate undertones of Guinness Extra Stout would pair well with a rich dessert.
I was preparing dinner one evening with the Cooking Channel on in the background, as I often do, when I overheard Chuck Hughes, from Chuck’s Day Off, describe his chocolate stout cake. In his recipe, he incorporated a local stout brew to his bread pudding. I thought this was an ingenious idea and later adapted it slightly to include Guinness Extra Stout, Zingerman’s Irish soda bread (the best bread bakers on earth — no lie), and different ratios of sugar and chocolate chips.
He makes whipped cream to top his dessert but I wanted something more. Surprise, surprise.
What can be better with warm-out-of-the-oven bread pudding than homemade ice cream? Vanilla bean and brown sugar ice cream no less!
I topped it off with a dark sauce, which of course, included more Guinness Extra Stout.
This dessert is not for the faint-hearted. She is generously laced with flavors of fudge, espresso, and beer. The Irish soda bread I used is chewy and very nutty which really accentuated the carnal texture to the body of this dessert. And the ice cream on top? Oh, she’s quite lovely. When you taste her straight from the icebox she’s a tease. At first, your palate senses her smooth and delicate caress and then a second later you’re slapped by the earthy hit of brown sugar. It’s unscripted and you’re totally taken by surprise. But you find her tempting ways irresistible and dive in for more. When she’s nestled on the warm bread pudding, however, she slowly begins to melt and takes on the impression of a creme anglaise — soft and subtle, but seductive no less.
I prepared this in my kitchen with Pandora blaring a potpourri of Irish Pub Favorites. I can’t think of a better way to prelude one of the greatest holidays on earth.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Guinness Chocolate Bread Pudding with Dark Sauce
*Bread pudding recipe adapted from Chuck Hughes
For the bread pudding and dark sauce:
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour (for the bread pudding); 5 minutes (for the sauce)
For the bread pudding:
1 – 12 oz. bottle Guinness Extra Stout beer
½ C. heavy cream
½ C. brown sugar + 1 T. for topping
1 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ C. bittersweet chocolate chips
4 large eggs
2 t. vanilla extract
4 C. Irish soda bread; cut into cubes
For the dark sauce:
6 oz. (1/2 bottle) Guinness Extra Stout beer
½ C. heavy cream
¼ C. brown sugar
½ C. dark chocolate chips
Pinch of sea salt
For the bread pudding:
Optional: If your Irish soda bread is fresh, cut it into cubes and place in a 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes to make slightly crunchy and “stale.” This will make for a better bread pudding.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
Add the Guinness, heavy cream, and ½ C. brown sugar to a slow simmer in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and add in the semi-sweet chocolate chips. Use a whisk to combine and to help chocolate chips melt evenly. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla. Temper the egg mixture by adding in a small amount of the slightly cooled chocolate mixture. Whisk. Then, add the rest of the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture, using a whisk to combine thoroughly.
Add the bread cubes to the custard and stir to combine making sure the bread is soaking up the mixture. Transfer to a greased baking dish. If the mixture is really close to the top of the dish, place it on a baking sheet in case it bubbles over during cooking. Sprinkle the bittersweet chocolate chips over the top. Lastly, disperse the 1 T. brown sugar on top of the bread pudding.
Bake the bread pudding for about 1 hour or until the custard has set.
Allow to cool slightly before serving. Serve bread pudding with dark sauce and whipped cream or ice cream.
For the dark sauce:
In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the Guinness, heavy cream, and brown sugar, and bring to a slow simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in the dark chocolate chunks and a pinch of sea salt, whisking to incorporate thoroughly. Serve immediately with bread pudding.
Vanilla Bean and Brown Sugar Ice Cream
*Recipe very slightly adapted from Alton Brown
Prep Time: 5 minutes plus 24 hours inactive time
Cook Time: 5 minutes plus 30-45 minutes inactive time
2 C. half-and-half
1 C. heavy cream
1 C. brown sugar
1 vanilla bean; halved and beans scraped
*Special equipment needed:
Ice cream maker – Make sure the vessel is frozen prior to using it. Stick it in the freezer 24 hours prior and you should be fine.
In a medium-sized saucepan combine the half-and-half, heavy cream, brown sugar, and vanilla bean in its’ entirety, and bring to a very slight simmer (tiny bubbles) over medium heat. As soon as it comes to a simmer remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before removing the hull of the vanilla bean. Transfer mixture to a lidded container and put in the fridge for 24 hours to allow the flavors to meld.
The next day, set up your ice cream maker and place the mixture into the frozen vessel. Turn on the ice cream maker and allow to churn for approximately 30 to 45 minutes, or until ice cream has turned into desired consistency.
Fold ice cream mixture out into another lidded container and stash in the freezer for about another hour, though it’s ready to be eaten as soon as it’s out of the ice cream maker.
*Editor’s Note: 4/25/11 — I did not receive any compensation for mentioning Zingerman’s delicious breads. I’m an Ann Arborite and I so do love them to itty bitty crumbs. Amen.