Guest Post from Inspired2Cook

16 Mar

Our friend Andrea over at Inspired2Cook is guest posting for us today. I love it when she does that! She’s sharing a beautiful meal idea for St. Patrick’s Day… Guinness Beef Stew and Chocolate Stout Cake. Thank you, Andrea for sharing with us!

Beef stew of any kind is always a winner in my house! So with St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, I thought I’d give Guinness Beef Stew a try. Even if you’re not a fan of the famous dark Irish beer, you’ll still love this stew! The Guinness Draught beer makes the stew rich and chocolatey without giving it an overly beer-y (is that a word?) taste. It’s really delicious!

Instead of using the slow cooker, I cooked the stew in the oven. First, I browned the beef in two batches in my dutch oven, set the browned beef aside in a separate bowl, then browned the onions in the dutch oven. I then added the broth, Guinness and the rest of the ingredients to the dutch oven, covered it with the lid, and baked the stew in a preheated 350° oven for 3 hours. When the stew was finished cooking, I removed it from the oven and placed it on a burner set at medium-high heat. I then added the flour/beer mixture and stirred it into the simmering stew, letting it continue to simmer for about 10 minutes. Garnish with parsley and enjoy!

Guinness Beef Stew
-recipe from Cook’s Country Magazine

Test Kitchen Discoveries
-When we enhanced the beer’s complex coffee/chocolate flavors by adding bittersweet chocolate to the slow cooker, our testers raved about the beefy, stout flavor.
-We added the Guinness in two stages to get the best of its flavor—at the beginning for a base flavor and at the end for a fresh kick.
-SHOP CAREFULLY: When cooking, choose the mellower Guinness Draught rather than Guinness Extra Stout. Straight from the bottle, both beers have their merits. But after nine hours in the slow cooker, Guinness Draught was the clear winner. Tasters noticed the “clean, toasted taste” of the stew made with Guinness Draught, while the stew made with Guinness Extra Stout, although still acceptable, was noted for having a slightly “tannic, bitter” aftertaste.
-Make sure to buy large chunks of stew meat. Trim meat of excess fat, as necessary, and cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces. Be gentle when stirring in the flour in step 3—the fork-tender beef will fall apart if stirred too aggressively.

Serves 6 to 8.

4 pounds boneless beef chuck stew meat  
2 tablespoons vegetable oil  
2 onions, chopped 
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth  
1 1/2 cups Guinness Draught  (not Guinness Extra Stout)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar  
1 teaspoon dried thyme  
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate , chopped 
2 bay leaves  
5 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks 
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks 
1 1/2 pounds baby red potatoes, scrubbed 
1/4 cup all-purpose flour  
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves  

1. Pat beef dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook half of beef until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker insert and repeat with additional 2 teaspoons oil and remaining beef.

2. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil, onions, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to skillet and cook until onions are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add broth, 1 1/4 cups stout, sugar, thyme, chocolate, and bay leaves and bring to boil, using wooden spoon to scrape up browned bits. Transfer to slow cooker insert.

3. Add carrots, parsnips, and potatoes to slow cooker insert. Cover and cook on low until meat is tender, 9 to 10 hours (or cook on high for 6 to 7 hours). Set slow cooker to high. Whisk flour and remaining 1/4 cup beer until smooth, then stir mixture into slow cooker. Cook, covered, until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir in parsley, season with salt and pepper, and discard bay leaf. Serve.

Make Ahead: You can prepare the recipe through step 2 the night before the ingredients go into the slow cooker. Refrigerate the browned beef and the onion mixture in separate containers. In the morning, transfer the beef and the onion mixture to the slow cooker and proceed with step 3.

This Chocolate Stout Cake is moist, rich and very chocolatey. Need I say more?

For some reason, some of the cake stuck to the pan when I unmolded it (probably user error because that didn’t happen last time I made it). Husband, however, had a cunning plan. He joked that I should spackle it together. We had a good laugh but then I took his advice and stuck the loose cake chunks back on the cake. The cake is moist enough so it worked. I then covered the newly spackled cake with the ganache. See…chocolate fixes everything! 

Chocolate Stout Cake
-recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine

Rich, dark, and toasty stout beer plus deeply flavored molasses give the chocolate flavor of this cake some wonderful nuance. With this recipe, you can bake one big beautiful cake, perfect for entertaining, or a dozen irresistible miniature bundt cakes, perfect for gift giving.

Yields 1 large bundt cake or 12 miniature bundt cakes.

For the cake
1-1/4 cups stout, such as Guinness (don’t include the foam when measuring)
1/3 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
7-1/2 oz. (1-2/3 cups) all-purpose flour
2-1/4 oz. (3/4 cup) unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed); more for the pan
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
10 oz. (1-1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature; more for the pan
1-1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped

For the glaze: (optional)
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 oz. semisweet chocolate

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Butter a 10- or 12-cup bundt pan (or twelve 1-cup mini bundt pans) and then lightly coat with sifted cocoa powder. Tap out any excess cocoa.

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the stout and molasses to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand while preparing the cake batter.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With a stand mixer (use the paddle attachment) or a hand mixer, cream the butter in a large bowl on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs one at a time, stopping to scrape the bowl after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the flour and stout mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Stop the mixer at least one last time to scrape the bowl and then beat at medium speed until the batter is smooth, about 20 seconds. Stir in the chopped chocolate.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan (or pans), spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula. Run a knife through the batter to eliminate any air pockets. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 45 to 50 minutes (about 35 minutes for mini cakes). Set the pan on a rack to cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack and remove the pan. Let cool until just barely warm.

Make the glaze, if using:
Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute and then whisk until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Drizzle the barely warm cake with glaze and then let cool to room temperature before serving.

Make Ahead Tips:
Wrapped tightly in plastic, the cake keeps for up to a week, or you can freeze it for up to a month. If you’re making the cake ahead, wrap it while still barely warm without the glaze. If you plan to freeze the cake, don’t glaze it until you’re ready to serve it or give it away.

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