Macadamia Nut Ale Brownies with White Chocolate-Toffee Ganache

Saturday, May 3, 2008
Dark chocolate brownies made with dark nutty beer, topped with a caramel macadamia nut ganache.  

Macadamia Nut Ale Brownies with White Chocolate-Toffee Ganache

7 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
1/3 cup nutty dark-type ale, plus an additional 3 tablespoons, divided use
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (such as Hershey's Dark)
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts, lightly toasted*
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 ounces white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 8x8-inch baking dish with foil; coat with cooking spray.

Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, and stir in ale. When mixture is hot and starts to bubble, turn heat off, and stir in bittersweet chocolate, until melted and well combined; set aside.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder and salt.
In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat together eggs, granulated sugar and vanilla, for 3 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low, and beat in melted chocolate mixture, until well combined. Stir in flour mixture, until just combined.
Scrape batter into prepared dish and sprinkle with macadamia nuts; bake at 375 degrees F, for 28-30 minutes, or until set. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

Melt the additional 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat; stir in additional 3 tablespoons ale, cream and brown sugar. Bring mixture to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5-6 minutes, whisking frequently, until reduced and bubbly. Remove pan from heat and cool for 5 minutes. Stir in white chocolate until melted and smooth, placing pan back on heat source if necessary.
Pour white chocolate-toffee glaze over brownies, and smooth the surface, using a rubber spatula.

Freeze the brownies until set, about 1-2 hours. Lift the foil-lined brownies out of dish, and slice into bars, using a sharp knife.

*To toast the macadamia nuts, place in a small bowl and microwave for 20-40 seconds, or until light golden brown and fragrant.

Yield: 9 big brownies

68 comments on "Macadamia Nut Ale Brownies with White Chocolate-Toffee Ganache"
  1. I'm disappointed that you'd give up so easily.

    You don't have to go to the best school. There are some community colleges that have produced some wonderful chefs and pastry chefs.

    You need that diploma to open doors and then you'll coast with your natural talent. Git back on that horse and ride into that dream again.

  2. I would love to counsel you on your dream of culinary school. My opinion? A waste of time and money. I have yet to blog about my experiences, but hope to one day. You already have the basic know-how, don't need it!
    Email me if you have questions...

  3. Where is your positive attitude? Although frankly the way you cook do you really need to go to culinary school maybe just go work in a kitchen somewhere...or open a bakery??? Don't always works out (coming from someone who is a whole year older than you...haha! maybe I should shut up!) I'm drooling over these!!! Delicious!!! Wish I had one for 5 with my morning coffee right now!

  4. Wow, those look incredible! All your recipes always look great so hold on to your dreams...there is always someday!

  5. OH Em, don't pack it in. Have you contacted culinary schools to ask about financial aid? Sometimes there might be work study programs too. Maybe the culinary school you really really want to go to is too pricey, but there might be some other one that is less so...
    By the way those brownies kick ass.

  6. booze + macadamia? Oh my, I want to get drunk with this too.

  7. These sound fantastic - love that white topping, adds the perfect touch to an already scrumptious looking treat!

  8. Hmmm..getting "tipsy" after eating brownies...Sounds like a "neat" idea! I understand that tuition in the States is very expensive. Have you thought about doing a community college cookery course or something government funded...(we have them here in Australia and hey are referred to as technical colleges...just adding my 2c worth).

  9. EM-
    Drop your bucket where your are! Start looking at other options and stop being defeatist. Have you considered getting to know some chefs at Caterers or restaurants? Sometimes they will let you work as prep under them. I have been offered this opp and its a great way to learn and gain that valuable kitchen time places look for when hiriing. Also have you looked at a cheaper community college? Its a start until you can save enough. Now start being creative like thse brownies and figure out alternative soulutions. Words are powerful and YOU WILL NOT BE A SERVER FOREVER.

  10. Hey one more idea. Start looking at reality TV route. I'm serious. These shows are always looking for entrants for new shows.Gordon Ramsey may offer you a scholarship.

  11. Coming from a person who went to pastry school I have to say that it seems like you have incredible talent and would definitely make it in this industry even without culinary school. Your creativity always amazing me and that is something school can't produce. You definitely shouldn't let your dreams die or stop you from going all the way with your passion for cooking and would be a loss for us all!

  12. okay. the brownies look like they would send me into a coma, and that would be okay. i'd go back for more. then we have the ganache. i could eat it straight out of the bowl and die satisfied. to combine the two? dastardly, emiline. dastardly.

    meanwhile, please don't give up hope on culinary school! you never know when the tides will turn! (gee willikers, i sound like my grandfather...)

  13. Hey, many of those people on Top Chef don't have a formal culinary education. With your wit and charm, you'd be great on there :)

    As usual, your brownie recipe sounds and LOOKS amazing!

  14. Emeline, first, I'm in chocolate heaven.

    It just totally sucks to hear how difficult it is for you to be able to follow your dreams but who's to say that you need to go to school to train yourself to become a future 'chef' or 'baker'. This is long so bear with me....take hubs for ex, he's a photographer- no background schooling; simply self taught at a later time in life let's say....and you know what he's doing pretty damn good for I say Em, stay strong, stay believing in yourself- WE all know you can succeed and you don't have to be working as a waitress for the rest of your life.

  15. I know you're going to hate me after you read this but this is your proverbial kick in the butt from an online mom!!! Never...ever..and I mean never EVER give up your dreams. There is ALWAYS a solution - you may not see it right now - but there is. Keep digging - you have incredible talent - please don't sell yourself short.

    Oh yeah, the brownies are good too :).

  16. Those sound so good!! I can't believe that you can get so many great flavours into one brownie! ...including beer!! Bookmarked

  17. Emiline, I am old enough to be your mom. So, listen to me. Don't give up on your dreams. You are still so young. No one knows what's in store for them in the future. All your friends have given you good advice so think about all these options and decide what's best for you. (Do I sound like your grandma?). Lovely Brownies.

  18. Wowser. Incredible, I mean I love cooking with dark ale becuase it just deepens the flavor. This looks like a great recipe.

  19. Also, don't even think about giving up your dream. You. Are. Only. 22. At 32 I went back to school for a second degree to be a winemaker. It was so hard but was my passion. Don't give up..a door will open. Also don't be looking at the finest school...if you are will not matter where you graduate from.

  20. You can do it, girl! Don't give up on it. I know it might seem impossible right now, but trust me, it is possible. I have a friend who currently owns her own catering and private chef business. She started out as a dishwasher when she was 17, slowly working her way up the line. She didn't have help from family and she even had a baby somewhere in the mix. Trust me. You can do it. It may just not be the traditional way...

  21. Emiline, NO ONE deserves to go to culinary school more than you - you're so talented, inspiring, and passionate. Hang in there, and hold on to your dreams!! If it's meant to be, it'll happen!!

    On a brighter note, those Macadamia Nut Ale Brownies sound heavenly; especially with that White Chocolate-Toffee Ganache - yum!

  22. Oh Emiline,
    What about school loans? That's what I did. I had to save every penny for school and just got school loans to worry about later. Where there's a will there's a way!!

    With the looks of these brownies, you'd be at the top of your class girl! These look phenomenal!

  23. Tasty. Maybe add some chopped orange peel to the white chocolate frosting? I think it would brighten the palette a bit.
    I have also been interested/eager to attend culinary school these recent years. But regardless of my future at a culinary school, I know food will always be a major part of my life.
    It's the undeniable passion that will define our unlikely futures; not degrees or money.

  24. You know, I was going to say something, but it looks like everything has already been said! I second the motion that you try to do it without the school (although I would love to go to culinary school one day, not to be a chef, but just for the knowledge!)

    Beautiful brownies!

  25. Don't give up, just keep looking at all your options. It may not work out to go to the school of your choice, but another might be just as good of an opportunity.

    In the meantime, you have mad skillz already, Emiline!

  26. EM!
    Take all these comments and LISTEN to your blogging buddies!!!

  27. i third (fourth? fifth?) what everyone else said about giving up. namely, don't.

    these look obscenely dark and dense. like my black black heart.

  28. wow, those look so fudgy and delish! i'm so glad you have all these recipes on baking with alcohol, because my roommate has a ton of alcohol (leftover from a party...) that i need to use up!

  29. Em, you are so talented already - with your creativity, I am sure that you will make it happen somehow, with or without formal training. These brownies sound amazing - nuts, white chocolate, ale and toffee is an amzing combination!

  30. White Chocolate Toffee Ganache is a sure fire winner. I agree with everyone else. We have an excellent community college program here as I am sure they do in many communities. You can apply for students loans to further your education even more and as suggested there are work programs. I would have loved to volunteer at the cooking school I went to in Greece for the summer. Get out there and get some experience and don't let anyone tell you you can't do something!!!

  31. Emiline, emiline. The more time I spend in school and in the industry so far has given me the right to say "you don't need school to be in the kitchen." Have you thought of starting as a prep cook at a restaurant? Let me tell you, there's only 3 other culinary educated people in our kitchen. 3! Don't fret. It'll all work out. Anyways, just bring send some of your drunken brownies to the school and I doubt they can turn you down. If they do, smash it in their faces.

  32. Emiline! You are only 22! I am twice your age (maybe a wee bit more) lol, and still have dreams that I am working on. Read a little about that great president Abe Lincoln...he went through an incredible hard journey before he became president. Don’t give up, keep your goal, and set your mind to make it come true. The brownies look and sound delicious, and a sample of your creativity!

  33. Your combinations of ingredients always set my head spinning with their creativity. You are great at this and I think if this is what you want to do, do it!
    Look into scholarships, loans, grants--surely there are ways out there for you to do this. Or, I've watched many a person just start working in kitchens without a culinary education and learn by doing. You are so talented and driven that I know you can make it work somehow.

  34. Dude. Loans are a beautiful, beautiful thing. As is FAFSA. It's definitely intimidating to go to graduate school strait off of loans, but imagine how much happier you'll be with your dream job, even if a chunk of your salary goes to repay your tuition costs. Start doing some serious research into schools, both community colleges and the prestigious ones, and talk to their financial aid advisers. They've probably seen a billion folks in your financial situation come through, and know of a zillion possible solutions. You'd be surprised at how many resources are out there. Ask the people who know. And if this is really your dream, fuck, apply in this next cycle. The school that admits you will help you figure it out financially.

    Babe, just don't try to do it on your own...

  35. That's one of the annoying things about this country, the high cost of education.

    People with real talent can't get the training they really want, because they can't afford it. While mediocre students get into prestigious colleges and universities, just because they're good at sport. There's no justice in this world.

    I agree with Ginny, think about opening your own bakery. Or think about selling your cakes and cookies at farmer's markets.

    Hold on tight to your dream, Emiline.

  36. 2 things -Don't give up - there's always a way somehow. It just may not be the path you are currently looking at.

    And, In four years you could be an exhausted server...or an exhausted server on her way to culinary school...

    You can do it!

    In the meantime. I really have to stop reading about brownies this close to dinner....

  37. oh my! these look like amazing brownies!

  38. I'm with everyone else. NO matter what the circumstances, you CAN do it. You will find a way. You have the desire and the talent. Don't ever put yourself down. You're great!!!!!

  39. Oh Emiline...where to begin. First of all, I would disagree with the second comment said about culianry school being a waste of time and money, as it was a completely rewarding experience for me. Second- I would agree with Peter M. I went to a community college right here in Seattle that offered a fabulous culinary program at a very affordable price. I am now the head pastry chef for 2 reputable sister restaurants. Most restaurants looking to hire a pastry chef don't care where you went to school, just as long as you went. Finally- The pastry chef I replaced did NOT go to culinary school, and neither did my current pastry assistant. They have both worked their way up. The one I replaced was a personal chef and has an amazing pallate and just ended up with the pastry gig. You have the talent, that much is obvious. You know the basics. If culinary school is really something that you don't think you can swing, start looking for a job doing anything in the kitchen. You would be surprised how many assistant positions are out there where a pastry degree is not a requirement. You will learn so much, it could almost replace culinary school. One more thing- you are young! Most of the people in my graduating class in culinary school were in their 40's. DO NOT give up. It will happen if you want it to. Please feel free to contact me if you want.
    And your brownies look nothing short of top notch restaurant quality.

  40. Don't give up on your dreams. Sure a degree at a top culinary school has prestige, but it's not the only path to a career. Even if it were, you never know what the future could bring you. Anyone who reads this blog knows you have talent. Which brings me to the point that so many people read this blog and are aware of your talent, so you are already on the right track.

    Don't give up. Keep feeding us these recipes and we'll all stand behind you.

    (Have you ever considered publishing these in any other form for more distribution?)

  41. scholarships, financial aid, loans, thats how its done...dont give up

    did you 'blackout' from these brownies?

  42. I love how your recipe only makes 9 brownies. Do those things weigh a half pound each? :D

    Come out west and do pastry in one of the myriad excellent restaurants in Portland! We have a shortage of pastry chefs.

  43. It is true that when it comes to school and money, it does get kind of difficult, but, you should never give up on your dream.

    If you give up on it now, you'll look back and have regrets, wishing you'd gone. Never live a life with regret.

    It could take time to get money, but your still young. There plenty of time left. Life is just beginning.

    Don't give up on your dreams. Your an excellent baker and you would defiantly do a fantastic job with the skills you have.

    The things that one most wants to do are the things that are probably most worth doing.

  44. Don't give up, sweetie! You are so, so young and full of energy!

  45. These brownies look amazing!! YUM! You would never know you haven't been to culinary school from the awesome recipes you post. There are always student loans. ;)

  46. A diploma is not the only way to your dreams. Talk to people who work where you work and ask their advice on how to acquire the skills and knowledge you need without promising your first-born to a lender.

    That little lecture being said, gorgeous brownies!

  47. Emiline, there are plenty of successful chefs and bakers who did not go to culinary school. I just read an article a couple of weeks ago about a home baker who baked for friends' parties which led to bigger parties which led to her opening her own bakery. Don't let anyone squelch your dreams. You're too talented for that.

  48. Emiline,some of the best pastry assistants I hired were coming from the technical college in town and they were far more knowledgeable and apt to work than the ones coming out of the "fancy" Culinary school.
    The brownies look delicious!

  49. DO NOT GIVE UP!!!!!! I have bookmarked these brownies for later this week. We all have a tummy bug at the moment.

  50. I've only lurked here before now, but I just had to remark on your post. As someone who's been to culinary school, I can tell you that you don't have to go to realize your dreams! Get yourself a job in a kitchen (even if it's unpaid at first -- with your talent, it won't be for long) and just start working your way up. I've worked with a LOT of people in kitchens with no formal education.

    But if the degree is really important to you, get yourself some loans and look into programs with work-study options (the Institute for Culinary Education here in NYC has a great one).

    The important thing, as everyone else has said, is not to give up! You clearly have tremendous talent and drive, and all the schooling in the world can't teach you that.

    Good luck to you!!

  51. i know i already commented on this, but they're still quite lovely, and i tagged you. either you're welcome or i'm sorry, whichever is fitting. :)

  52. Come to Chattanooga and start a bakery with MEEE! You can bake and I'll...make coffee. And clean?

    I'll give you a dollar?

    I'd say come to Chicago and start one with me, but they already have lots of bakeries and the rent cost is really high and people are meaner. And it's cold.

  53. Emiline! Like everyone else has said - keep those dreams going. Sometimes it takes a while to get there, but you will get there. There is more than one way to get there and you have so much talent - you can and will do something amazing with your life. One thing I know for sure is that you will not be a server forever! :)
    We are all here for you!

    Plus, these brownies RULE!

  54. I think there are people that will tell you professional training is unnecessary to fulfill your dreams. You can do it without! Don't give up on your dreams yet.

  55. Don't give up on your dreams! Speaking of dreams, I've been dreaming of making your brownies since you posted. Chocolate and beer can it get any better?

  56. I agree completely with what everyone else has written -- first of all, don't give up! Make a list of your priorities and figure out what's worth sacrificing and what's not. Want to go to school debt-free? Maybe a less expensive school is the right plan. Want to go to a specific school you've been dreaming about? Maybe student loans are the right way to go -- first of all, I'd imagine that your earning potential would go way up after having graduated, so it'd be easier to pay back loans after school than it will be to save up the money to pay for school before going. Second of all, federal loans have really low interest rates (our government wants us to spend our income on education!) -- my law school federal loans have an interest rate that's lower than what I earn in my savings account. Think about what you want and decide from your available options -- whether that's going to work in pastry now and working your way up, waiting until you've saved more, or thinking about ways to pay for school that don't involve saving everything upfront! Either way, GOOD LUCK, and I can't wait to hear about what you decide to do!

  57. good gracious!! this brownie is so sinfully delicious!!! dont give up too fast emiline, i'm sure you will find a good hearted philantropist that will give you the scholarship for this culinary school :-) i'm sure you will succeed!!

  58. Maybe you should knock over a few gas stations and then you'd be set. Just kidding...don't give up on culinary school! And also, your brownies look sinfully delicious :)

  59. You are already talented!!
    I just adore your brownies with their topping – beautiful

    Rosie x

  60. Hey, I don't really wanna wade thru all 60 comments, so if someone else said this, disregard me and listen to them. Have you thought about Hell's Kitchen? Reality show (yeah, you'd have to put up with your personal noise all over national TV) and the head chef guy has a tendency to call the contestants stupid little donkeys, but... well, it's an idea. ALSO, don't discredit the idea of financial aid. Speaking as someone who just graduated (after 8 freaking years), I couldn't have done it without financial aid, and since I'm broke and live on my own and my 'rents can't claim me on their taxes, I bloody cleaned up. Look into that, and keep the recipes coming. I'm trying to convince my friend to make them for me because I'd much rather surf the net and offer my invaluable opinions. Take this--and the brownies--to the bank sweetheart!

  61. I like the farmer's market idea from jan! You could do that this summer and I'll help. It would be really fun. Also, come talk to Mrs. J during her plan hour!


  62. Emiline your a very talented person who oddles of personality, I love your write ups.

    And as for these brownies, your making my diet very hard!! They are absolutely delish!


  63. Woah I am completely intrigued by these! What an awesome sounding and looking brownie. And I love that you cut them into 9 big pieces! I've never heard of microwaving macadmia nuts to toast them.

    Don't give up on your dream of going to culinary school! Though what I learned when I was researching about going to one here is that you don't have to go to a fancy expensive school (I think the ones here are $10,000 and the other is about $3000 or less maybe). It's about the actual work experience you get after you finish.

  64. these look loaded. cute blog you have here, i'll be back for sure! nice meeting you :D.

    flour arrangements

  65. I stumbled you so hard I broke my toe, man! Yum.

    About cooking school, heed the comments. Good advice here. You can get into the business without cooking school, but you may need to move. Find where you want to be and apprentice.

    That being said, I do not think culinary school is a waste of time. There is SO much to learn. That, plus most of the top chefs I know of (not all, just a lot)have formal training. If you really want to do it, you can find a way. I did not go to cooking school when I was young and energetic and I regret it quite a bit.

  66. Emiline,

    Do NOT give up. I don't know whether you truly need culinary school or not, but if you want to go there's got to be a way to make it happen. Financial aid? Scholarships? A less fancy school?

    As Tim Gunn says in Project Runway, make it work.

    I'd love to get some real culinary training myself, so I can relate to the dream.

  67. Okay, I'm a little late here, but you know, some amazing Chefs did not go to Culinary school. It's all in the apprencticeship. find a great chef and learn from them. It will be far more knowledge than you could ever get in school.
    With that said:

    Pleae, oh god, please, would you submit this recipe here: