Chocolate Stout Brownies with Whiskey Ganache

I'm fairly certain that some of the first words I learned to say were "Jack Daniels manhattan, up."

And no, I was not raised in a bar.

For as long as I can recall, a manhattan made with Jack Daniels whiskey and served straight up has been my dad's cocktail of choice.  He never drinks them at home, only in restaurants at the beginning of a meal.  When my dad orders a manhattan, it is a sign that he is ready to call it a day and ease into a nice long dinner.  Menus are set aside without so much as a glance at the appetizers, and the server is usually told "no hurry", which I'm sure they just love.

And dad is very particular about the quality of his manhattans.  We watch with baited breath as he takes that fateful first sip.  I always try to gauge from the depth of the drink's amber color whether or not the composition is up to par.  An incorrect vermouth to whiskey ratio will find that sucker on its way back to bar, while a properly concocted drink is granted dad's signature slight nod of satisfied approval.

Once, in Aruba, after several failed attempts from the bartender, my dad actually ventured behind the bar and made his own manhattan.  Oh yeah, he'll go there if need be.

I can't remember exactly how old I was, but at some point I decided that I needed to see what all of this manhattan hype was about.  Surely this must be one incredibly smooth cocktail, right?  I've never been one for strong "it'll put hair on your chest" drinks, but if my dad enjoys it that much.....

Blech!  Gack! Wincing from burning throat caused by what might be the most awful thing that I have ever tasted.

The word "vile" immediately came to mind.

This is what all of the hoopla has been about?  Are you freaking serious?  Why would you subject me, your only adoring daughter, to such torture?  Why-eeeeeeee???

And P.S., I don't want hair on my chest.  Why would I want hair on my chest?  That should have been my first clue right there.

While my dad and I are alike in many ways, preference of cocktail is clearly not one of them.  I should have considered the fact that I have never seen my dad drink a chocolate martini before I abused all of those taste buds.

So, no, you will never see me sporting a tee that says "Whiskey's #1 Fan."  It's just not my thing.

Except of course when it comes to ganache (there's always an exception, and it usually involves chocolate.)  Whiskey in ganache is a very good thing, and it is most definitely my thing.  Especially when that ganache is resting on top of a super-fudgy, guaranteed-to-get-your-hands-dirty, rich brownie made with reduced stout beer.  Beer in a brownie might seem unconventional, I know, but it actually adds depth by intensifying the chocolate flavor.  Trust me, it doesn't taste like your are biting into a chocolate Coors Light.

For the record, I don't like beer either, unless of course you put it into a brownie.

Here are some extra tips for making these double-spiked sweets:

  • Feel free to either substitute walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts for the pecans or omit them altogether.
  • Grand Marnier, Chambord, Kahlua, or cherry brandy (kirsch) would all be good substitutes for the whiskey in the ganache
  • This brownies will keep well, tightly wrapped and chilled, for several days.  They may also be wrapped and frozen.
  • If you want to omit the ganache altogether, you can simply dust the chilled brownies with some powdered sugar.

Chocolate Stout Brownies with Whiskey Ganache

Printable Recipe

Serves 16


16 ounces stout beer (such as Sam Adams Cream Stout or Guinness)

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 sticks (8 oz) butter, in pieces

5 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 ¼ cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 ¼ cups cake flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup pecans, lightly toasted and chopped

For the ganache

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

⅔ cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons butter

2-3 tablespoons Irish whiskey

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.  Butter a 13X9-inch baking pan.  Line the pan with foil or parchment paper so that there is a 2-inch overhang.  Butter the foil/parchment.

Pour the stout into a medium saucepan and set it over medium-high heat.  Bring the stout to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and allow the stout to reduce down to ¾ cup, 10-15 minutes.  Allow the stout to cool slightly.

Melt the chopped chocolate with the butter in a large metal bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth.  Remove the bowl from the saucepan and gradually add the eggs, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens to a pudding-like texture.  Whisk in the sugar until fully incorporated, then whisk in the vanilla.

Sift together the cake flour, cocoa, and salt into a medium bowl.  Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture in 2 additions, alternating with 2 additions of the reduced stout, stirring until fully blended.  Mix in the pecans.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top is set and a toothpick inserted emerges with a few moist crumbs attached, 24-30 minutes.  Place the pan on a rack to cool.

Prepare the ganache:  Melt the chocolate, cream, and butter in a metal bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth.  Remove from the heat and stir in 2-3 tablespoons of the whiskey, depending on personal taste.  Allow the mixture to cool to lukewarm, then spread it over the brownies in the pan, smoothing the top.  Chill the brownies for at least 2 hours before cutting.

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  1. Perfection! Look forward to trying out this recipe. The beer part is sure intriguing.

  2. Thank you, Brandy Girl, and apologies for the delayed response!  We have been on vacation for the past several days, so I feel like I am way behind responding to emails and comments (and Facebook.)  I will have plenty of catching up to do when we get home!

  3. Yikes!  I dont know how this was missed--thank you!!  Bake them at 350F.  I will edit this very soon (so mortified!)

    Regarding the eggs, no, I never need to temper them.  I know that sounds odd and against typical technique, but I just whisk very quickly as soon as the eggs are added, one at a time, until fully incorporated.  I have not had a curdling experience, and the batter always seems to thicken to a pudding-like consistency nicely.  That said, you certainly can take the tempering route as a safer alternative.

    Hope I reached you in time!

  4. SO. My friend and I are currently trying to make these brownies. Let me say that we were VERY EXCITED TO TRY THESE; however, at what temperature do you bake them??? There's no baking temperature! ALSO.. As per my friend's suggestion (and the apparent curdling experienced) were the eggs supposed to be tempered?? You may want to add this as a tip!



    HELP US JULIE. While we wait for your reply we will drink the rest of this stout. Should you not hear from us again, consider our drunken sorrow for future recipe posts.

  5. Your story reminded me of the first time I decided to try ginger brandy that dad liked to drink. It about killed me it burned so bad and I was branded the nickname "brandy girl" for quite a while after that. Made me never want to touch it again!

    LOVE how fudgy and rich and yummy those brownies look!

  6. Thank you, Janet!  So great to hear from you.  I havent made that orange walnut cake in awhile -- I might need to do that soon.  We have a Valencia orange tree in the backyard, and the fruit is ripe!

  7. These look deeelicious! Next weekend I am making your orange walnut cake (one of our all-time favorites)for a friend's BD and will make these brownies for the chocolate crowd. Wait, I am going to serve brownies with stout and whiskey in them to my grandkids??? No wonder they love Nanny!

  8. Your brownies look so yummy! I love the idea of incorporating beer and whisky into them.

  9. Thank you, Lisa!  Its nice when experiments turn out well.  Hope you have a delicious Super Bowl weekend 🙂

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