PHILADELPHIA, November 20, 2013 – The holidays are all about great desserts. That’s why when a recipe as original as it is delicious comes along, like spiced beer cake with hazelnut beer brittle and barleywine caramel mascarpone mousse created by Chef Sean Z. Paxton, AKA The Homebrew Chef, it’s worth mastering.
There are multiple steps to this dessert, which reads more complicated than it actually is. There are four distinct components to the recipe that can be prepared at three different times, as early as three days in advance.
First, prepare the cake, then the brittle, and on the last day you can finish by making the caramel and mousse before assembling the dessert.
Spiced Beer Cake - Hazelnut Beer Brittle, Barleywine Caramel Mascarpone Mousse
Craft beer caramel mixed into a mascarpone mousse, layered with a fall spiced beer cake, garnished with hazelnut beer brittle.
Serves: 8-12 large slices
Spiced Beer Cake Ingredients:
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
¾ tsp sea salt
½ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ cup butter, unsalted, preferably organic
2 ¼ cup sifted cake flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ cup sour cream, room temperature
½ cup beer, Sly Fox Christmas Ale or Harpoon Winter Warmer
¾ cup brown sugar, golden
½ cup honey, wild
2 each eggs, large
1 tsp vanilla extract
Spiced Pumpkin Ale Cake Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Take two 8-inch cake pans and coat with a non-stick spray or grease with butter. Set aside.
In a bowl, add the cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, pepper and clove; mix well. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, add the butter. Tilt and rock the pan until the butter has melted and starts to foam. Keep a close eye on the butter. Once the foam starts to breakdown and turn a light caramel color, the butter will start to smell almost like toasted nuts. This is browned butter. Remove from the heat and add the spice mixture, mixing well, letting the spices toast and flavor the butter. Set aside the pan to cool, while the rest of the ingredients are measured out.
In a bowl, sift the cake flour with the baking powder and soda. Set aside. In a liquid measuring cup, add the sour cream and Christmas Ale or Winter Warmer. Mix together and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the brown sugar, honey and cooled browned spice butter. Using a whisk attachment, whip until the mixture is combined and sugar is almost dissolved on high speed for about 3-4 minutes. Add one egg at a time, beating the mixture well. Add in the vanilla, mixing for another 30 seconds. Turn the speed to low, add the flour mixture and sour cream porter liquid. Mix until just combined, leaving no lumps or wet patches. Divide the cake batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Place into the center of the oven and cook for 25 - 30 minutes, or a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Remove from the oven, let rest for 15 minutes. Then using a knife, trace the edge of the inside cake pan, to loosen it. Invert the cake onto a wire rack and let cool completely. This cake can be made 4 hours to 3 days ahead. Once fully cooled, wrap in plastic wrap.
Hazelnut Beer Brittle Directions:
½ cup butter, unsalted
2 cup sugar, organic
½ cup beer, Sly Fox Christmas Ale or Harpoon Winter Warmer
1 tsp salt, sea
1 cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted and chopped coarse
Lightly grease a baking sheet with butter or use a Silpat® mat and set aside.
In a large saucepan, combine butter, sugar, beer and salt, stirring over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved, do not stir or the brittle can become grainy. Bring to a boil and cook to a hard crack stage, 300-310°F (148.8 – 154.4°C) and up to 325°F (163°C) for a darker color. Remove from heat and stir in toasted hazelnuts pouring onto prepared sheet tray, spreading evenly. Let cool to room temperature, then crack into bite size pieces. Store in an air tight container for up to 1 week.
Barleywine Caramel Directions:
1 ½ cup beer, DuClaw Devil’s Milk Barleywine
1 ½ cup maple syrup, grade b
¾ cup sugar, organic
In a large pot, add the Barleywine, maple syrup and sugar. Place the pot over a medium flame and whisk to dissolve the malt powder. As the syrup comes to a boil it will foam up; whisk to deflate the bubbles and prevent a boil over (another reason to use a large pot for the extra volume). Let the syrup simmer (adjusting the heat) for 15 - 20 minutes, or until a thick consistency is reached and the temperature is 240°F. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Mascarpone Beer Caramel Mousse Directions:
8 ounce mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 pint cream, heavy whipping
In a metal bowl with whisk, whip the mascarpone until it is smooth. Add in the cream and about 4 – 5 tablespoon of the Barleywine Caramel. Whisk until the mixture is smooth, fluffy and has the consistency of a thick whipping cream. Transfer the mousse into a pastry bag or large Ziplock style bag and cut off a small corner.
Take half pint glasses or wine glasses (have 8 ready to go) and using a 9thglass, cut out the cake rounds into disks. Layer a little bit the Mascarpone Beer Caramel Mousse in the bottom of the glass, then a disk of cake, followed by a drizzle of the Barleywine Caramel, then some of the small pieces of Pumpkin Seed Ale Brittle. Repeat this pattern 3 times in each glass. Top with some of the mousse and a drizzle of the beer caramel with a larger shard of brittle sticking up and out of the glass.
Refrigerate until ready to serve. Pair this dessert with a malt forward seasonal craft beer.
For more cooking with beer ideas, visit The Better Beer Society. Cake pictured differs from recipe presentation.
Bryan J. Kolesar travels the world for great beer and food. He writes from his native Philadelphia region.
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