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Lucy Saunders
4230 N. Oakland #178
Shorewood WI
53211 USA
@ site name

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If the Belgian monks who brew beer call it "liquid bread," then for Valentine's Day, think of it as "liquid cake." Beer and chocolate make wonderful partners.

The feel-good combination of fermented cocoa beans and fermented barley malt is popular across North America. In Vancouver, Canada, the Honorable Joyce Murray, who is the Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection (ministry responsible for parks), recently held a "Beer and Chocolate" fund raiser at the Oland Beer Institute in Yaletown. What a way to capture the hearts and minds of voters!

And in Portland, Oregon, brew guru Fred Eckhardt takes his popular pairings to the Rogue Ales Public House on NW Flanders for a St. Valentine's Eve Chocolate and Beer Massacre. He will reprise his famed Stout Float...as well as the proper pairing for a chocolate kiss.

"Chocolate releases the same dopamine chemicals in the brain as romantic love does," says Rogue Ales Public House manager Russ Menegat, "and beer tends to reduce social inhibitions. If that doesn't sound like the makings of an interesting evening, I don't know what does..."

Not just any beer, mind you. The best possible matches, in keeping with the sweet spirit of the day, are harmonious, melding complementary flavors of roasted cocoa beans and roasted barley malts, and perhaps just a bit of heat from a peppery nose of alcohol.

I love barleywine with bittersweet dark chocolate desserts, since that big alcohol nose cuts through the toasty aromas and intense, fermented flavors in the darkest chocolates. Porters and stouts seem to me to taste best with milk chocolates or desserts that blend chocolate with nuts, caramel or other berry fruits. Fruit beers, such as cherry or raspberry lambics, are also good choices.

In San Diego, Jer's Handmade Chocolates pairs Stone Brewing Co.'s Smoked Porter with pretzels dipped in bittersweet chocolate, to the delight of patrons at fundraisers such as benefits for the Leukemia Society. "We also work with Amore Cheesecakes to create our special anniversary party dessert - a Smoked Porter Cheesecake which is unbelievably decadent and delectable," according to Stone Brewing Co.'s Chris Cochran.

Pete Slosberg, former brewer now incarnated as Cocoa Pete, dubs Belgian strong ales such as Westvleteren 12 to be the most worthy partners to his Maltimus Maximus chocolate bar (bits of Briess malt crunchies in dark milk chocolate). Though the bars are only sold at retailers in San Francisco and environs, Slosberg hopes to sell online soon at www.cocoapetes.com.

Home beercooks can pair the flavors of beer with chocolate in fresh-baked desserts. I've made chocolate stout cakes, cookies, ice cream, syrup topping for ice cream, mousse filling for cake and frostings, and more. Jeff Mendel of the Tabernash Brewery likes the citric edge of weissbier in his version of Chocolate Cake. And Merchant du Vin has a sumptuous recipe for a Samuel Smith Imperial Stout Chocolate Ganache Cake (check the beercook.com recipe database).

A stunning, yet simple recipe is to add stout when making a chocolate bread pudding, as in the following - served at the Deschutes Brewery. Or you could surprise your beloved with brewed cocoa malt waffles with coffee stout cream - served in bed!

Deschutes Chocolate Stout Bread Pudding
Serves about 6

6 cups small cubes mixture of Country White & Village Baker Black Butte Porter bread (or any dark beer bread - stale is best)
3/4 cup of unsalted butter, melted
1 3/4 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup Obsidian Stout

Method: Butter an 8X8 pan Toss bread cubes with melted butter and place in buttered pan Whisk together egg yolks, beer, and sugar. Heat milk and cream to just boiling. Off heat add chocolate whisk until combined (it will look like hot chocolate) Whisk egg mixture into chocolate slowly. Pour mixture over bread. Cover tightly. Let this rest in fridge for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake until just set, about 30 minutes. For simplicity, bake 1 day ahead and reheat, tightly covered with foil, just before serving. Goes great with vanilla bean ice cream. (Thanks to L Walthew and M Cooper)

Cocoa Malt Waffles with Coffee Stout Cream


1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup malted milk powder
1/4 cup cocoa (I used Scharffen Berger, a rich dark cocoa)
1/3 cup cake flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 large eggs
1/4 cup stout
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vegetable oil spray

Whisk or sift together dry ingredients. In a large bowl, blend melted butter, eggs, stout and vanilla until smooth. Whisk the dry ingredients, 1/3 cup at a time, into the egg-stout blend. The batter will be thick - but if it seems too stiff, add a bit more stout. Let the batter stand for 5 minutes after mixing, while waffle iron heats. Spritz the cooking surface of the heated waffle iron with vegetable oil spray, and spoon in the appropriate amount of batter for the size of the iron (usually 1/4 cup or several tablespoons), spreading evenly. Close and cook until the waffle is crisp and doesn't stick to the waffle iron. Keep waffles warm in a 200F degree oven until ready to serve. Serve with Coffee Stout Cream. Makes 4-6 waffles, depending on size of waffle iron.

Coffee Stout Cream

3 tablespoons espresso stout or dry stout
1 square melted bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
, room temperature
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa

Heat the stout and chocolate together until the chocolate is melted. Let cool. Stir into the whipping cream. Sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa. Whip the whipping cream, adding cocoa-sugar blend by tablespoons, until thickened and peaks form. Serve with waffles.

www.beercook.com, Copyright © 2012-2002, by Lucy Saunders. All rights reserved. Note copyright of authors and recipe contributors in bylines and prefaces. Fee required for reprints in any commercial media.

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