So, I’m slightly ashamed to admit this, but I’ve only been the New Belgium Brewery Taproom twice to hang out and enjoy a few beers. BOTH times I was with my trustee, beer-loving sidekick and all-around good pal, Caleb. I’ve enjoyed COUNTLESS bottles and pints of New Belgium beer over the years and taken out-of-towners there for their amazing brewery tours, but hanging out in the Taproom for some tasters and quality time with my buddies just never really happened. I know, how un-Fort Collins-y of me! In any case, the first time I went, Caleb pointed our their Cocoa Molé Ale and insisted I try it. He knows my
obsession affection for chocolate runs deep and he was a doll for ordering me a taster of this stuff. I LOVED it. As a side note, the first experience with “Vania Cooking” Caleb ever had was the time I brought homemade, spicy chocolate truffles to work too many years ago. So, it was fitting that we were sharing this smoky, spicy, sweet and ever so chocolate-y beer together. The moment this stuff hit my lips, I knew I had to bake with it!
Fast forward to last week when I decided I was going to make Cocoa Molé Brownies, inspired by that delicious ale. I called the New Belgium Taproom to see if they had their Cocoa Molé Ale on tap. The sweet girl on the phone informed me that they hadn’t poured the stuff in about a year. I giggled (which I do when I’m nervous or feel like an ass), joked about how horrible I felt for letting so much time pass since my last visit, and began to ponder the last time I WAS there. Ah, yes… August 2013 when Caleb and I went for a few drinks before heading downtown to get in line for the FILMAGE screening at The Aggie. After I got over my embarrassment, I was on to Plan B… 1554. This black lager is one of New Belgium’s more popular beers and I thought 1554′s roasty, chocolatey, rich flavor profile would be a great addition to my spicy brownie recipe.
Now, onto the chocolate. Chocolaaaaaate…
When I heard this new place, Nuance Chocolate was coming to town, I was STOKED. Like, overly excited in an obsessively checking their facebook page for updates kind of way. When I shot them an email letting them know that I wanted to use their chocolate in my recipe, they graciously invited me to visit their storefront on Pine Street for a sneak peek. I met with Toby Gadd, one half of the husband/wife team that dreamed this small batch chocolate company into being. It is CLEAR that Toby and his wife Alix are passionate about chocolate, its origins, and the science (yes, it is a science!) behind creating a high quality from bean to bar. These chocolate aficionados are fermenting and roasting their own cocoa beans at their chocolate factory in Old Town and creating some of the most outrageous chocolate I’ve ever tasted. And I have tasted A LOT of chocolate. Toby was a fountain of information and sat down with me to explain the process of creating chocolate and their vision for Nuance Chocolate. I urge you, nay, IMPLORE you to get to Nuance as soon as humanly possible not only to get your hands on their wonderful, locally made chocolate, but to have a conversation with the owners. Their passion is infectious. I left 214 Pine Street downright GIDDY about having this kind of establishment in Fort Collins AND with a bag of their recommendations for the perfect chocolate to use in my batter and spicy ganache! To learn more about Nuance Chocolate, read THIS Coloradoan article.
Nuance Chocolate’s Handcrafted French Cart which will be used to transport their delicious chocolate from their factory on Oak Street to their shop on Pine Street.
Pssst… that oak barrel is being used to infuse chocolate with the flavors and aroma of aged bourbon!
Here’s the recipe, adapted from Joy the Baker…
Cocoa Molé Beer Brownies
What You’ll Need…
For the brownies-
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 3 1/2 ounces Nuance Chocolate 90% Ghana or high quality dark chocolate
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup New Belgium 1554
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the ganache-
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces Nuance Chocolate 70% Ghana or high quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon Urfa Biber Chili Flakes, Old Town Spice Shop (can be adjusted for desired heat and spice)
What You’ll Do…
For the brownies-
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and dust with cocoa powder a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
- Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pot of boiling water. In a small pan over medium heat, melt the butter until it just turns golden brown, about 5 minutes. Pour the brown butter into the chocolate and stir until combined. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the beer.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together eggs and sugars until thick, about 2 minutes. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all of the ingredients are well combined. .
- Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the edges are firm and the center is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan before slicing.
- Pour ganache evenly over brownies and cut into 12 large or 24 small brownies
For the ganache-
- Heat heavy cream, cinnamon, and chili flakes over medium heat until gently simmering, careful not to scorch the cream.
- Place chocolate into a medium bowl. Using a fine mesh sieve, pour your cream mixture over the chocolate and let it sit for about a minute. Add vanilla extract and whisk until the ganache is shiny and smooth.
XO, Vania Kinney
Cocoa Bags hung with care in Nuance Chocolate’s quaint Pine Street location.