I made these brownies to take to a Super Bowl party in my new neighborhood; you know that game last Sunday with my beloved Broncos? Well, that sure didn’t go well did it? My congrats to the Seahawks and their fans…they sure deserved this one and if we had to lose, I was glad it was to a team that had never had a Super Bowl victory before; that was exciting and I was actually happy for friends from that area. Still, I love the Broncos; they had a great season and I’m proud of the boys. I have to admit I’m especially enamored with Peyton Manning. Beyond his obvious talents he has been a great addition to this community and by all appearances is just a great guy. I would make these brownies for you anytime Peyton; call me, maybe?
I even named my new cat Peyton. Or re-named him I guess. My daughter’s cat originally, she had named him Weaselby; it’s the Harry Potter lover that she is. In 2013 she made the difficult decision to find a new home for him. As sweet as he is and as much as he wants human companionship; it was unfair to have him live out his days with Emily’s Corgi; the sweet but very active Ginny. She thought he was her personal toy; however he did not like the ‘chase the kitty’ game like Ginny did so he had reverted to spending every moment under a bed in a room with a gate. Poor Kitty.
Several months ago Emily found him a new home and all things seemed to be good. Then she moved to North Carolina the first week of December and the woman who adopted him decided to move a couple of weeks ago and not take the cat with her. So she contacted Emily; who now lived on the other side of the country. Long story short, he came here. I thought for some interim period until a new owner could be found but that little guy has wormed himself into my heart. His anxiety is so great that the progress I’ve seen (took 2 weeks for him to take that walk into the kitchen!) makes it clear he needs a lot of loving patience and the absence of a lot of noise and ruckus. I love seeing him start to come out of his shell. While he has nothing to fear from my dog Abbie…he knows when she is kenneled and comes out in the main part of the house only then. I hope eventually he will realize Abbie is so not Ginny and visit me in other than nighttime hours! In the meantime I will soothe my own frazzled nerves with chocolate.
Soooo…back to brownies. REALLY good brownies. These brownies are from America’s Test Kitchen…I don’t think any of their recipes have ever failed me; this one included. I just wanted to pump up the volume a bit with some booze in their recipe and then I added a frosting with more bourbon and a bourbon drizzle. More a dessert bar so they would stretch and feed lots of people. There were kids there too so I took some plain ones for them…these are definitely adult only’ brownies! I decided to cut them and decorate each square with the frosting but it can also be smeared on top of them while in the pan; totally your call.
I had a bottle of Belle Meade Bourbon Whiskey calling my name for these brownies; with a nose that strongly hints of caramel and finishes with more caramel and vanilla it was seemingly meant to be. The distillery that produces this premium bourbon, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery has a rich history in the making of bourbon and at one time their production was more than ten times that of Jack Daniels but in 1909 Prohibition forced them to close their doors. Heirs of the original owners became interested in resurrecting the brand and in 2009, one hundred years after closing, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery was back in business. Kicking off their resurrection with the release of Belle Meade™ Bourbon! Originally produced by Charles Nelson in conjunction with Sperry, Wade & Co. this bourbon was known for its bold character and smooth finish. Charles Nelson bottled and sold Belle Meade™ Bourbon in his day and now his great-great-great grandsons are doing the same. The owners have hand-selected barrels to create this unique family blend and have come up with something they know would make their ancestors proud.
I loved the story of the horses on the front label; they have a history that goes back to the days of the famous Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville, Tenn. The horse on the right-hand side of the label is Bonnie Scotland, one of Belle Meade’s leading sires. Some of Bonnie Scotland’s descendants include War Admiral, Man O’ War, Seabiscuit and Secretariat, along with most of the horses that run in the Kentucky Derby today. Appropriately enough, one of Bonnie Scotland’s fillies was named Bourbon Belle. The horse on the left-hand side of the label is Brown Dick, whose great-great grand sire was simply named Whiskey.
The response was to these was perfect…everyone loved them! I think the best compliment was that no one thought them overly boozy. Perfect…the whiskey is supposed to enhance the components but not overpower them. We all had such a great time meeting each other that the game as secondary. Good thing huh? 🙂
Whiskey Brownies with Buttercream and Whiskey Sauce
For the Brownies
- 1/3 cup (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (optional)
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup bourbon whiskey
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 large eggs plus 2 large yolks
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
For the Bourbon Syrup
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup Jack Daniels Honey Whiskey
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For the Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 2-3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 2-4 Tbsp Jack Daniels Honey Whiskey
- 2-4 Tbsp heavy cream (as much as needed to get correct consistency)
To Make the Brownies:
- Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13X9 inch baking pan with foil leaving a one inch overhang on all sides. Grease foil and set aside.
- Combine water and bourbon and microwave until just boiling. Whisk cocoa, espresso powder, and boiling water/bourbon together in large bowl until smooth. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted.
- Whisk in oil and melted butter.
- Combine eggs and egg yolks and whisk together. Add to chocolate mixture with vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth and homogeneous. Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated.
- Whisk together flour and salt in small bowl and then mix into batter with rubber spatula until combined. Fold in bittersweet chocolate pieces.
- Transfer batter to prepared pan; spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.
- Transfer pan to wire rack and let cool for 1 and 1/2 hours.
- Remove brownies from pan using foil. Return brownies to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut brownies into 2 inch squares and cover. (Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.)
To Make the Bourbon Drizzle:
- Add all ingredients together in a small pan, bring to a boil and boil for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool before drizzling on cupcakes.
To Make the Buttercream Frosting:
- In a large bowl, combine butter, bourbon, and powdered sugar. Mix on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add cream until the desired consistency is reached. The frosting should hold it’s shape, but easy to spread.
- Pipe or dollop frosting on top of each brownie; drizzle with the Bourbon syrup.
I was provided with a bottle of Belle Meade Bourbon Whiskey to sample but all opinions are my own.