Chefs and stout-lovers have known for decades that Guinness’ magic doesn’t have to stop at the bar. Instead it lends itself to lots of dishes, both savoury and sweet. Bringing dark, malty, roasted notes to bear on everything from coffee to bread, from brownies to cake, the best bit is that if there’s any stout remaining after your cooking efforts, you’ll just have to polish it off as a reward. To celebrate St Patrick’s Day, then, we’ve compiled three of the top dishes that elevate Ireland’s favourite drink from a cool refreshment to the essential cooking ingredient. And, in the final recipe, we’ve had some help from the head chef at Ashford Castle, whose thick slices of Guinness bread have guests rhapsodising on its merits…

Guinness Cake

Smooth and well-balanced (thanks to the sugary sweetness and bitter Guinness playing off against each another), the Guinness Cake can be baked as one big cake or separated to make lots of cupcakes.

Ingredients – Cake

250ml Guinness

250g Unsalted butter

75g Cocoa powder

400g Caster sugar

140ml Sour cream

2 Large eggs

1 tablespoon Vanilla extract

275g Plain flour

2½ teaspoons Bicarbonate of soda

Ingredients – Frosting

300g cream cheese

150g icing sugar

125ml double cream (or whipping cream)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Butter and line a 23cm cake tin. Alternatively, use a cupcake/muffin tin for individual Guinness cupcakes.
  • Pour the Guinness into a saucepan, add the butter bit by bit and heat until the butter’s melted.
  • Whisk in the cocoa and sugar.
  • Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the pan.
  • Whisk in the flour and bicarb.
  • Pour the cake batter into the lined tin/tray and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake

When the cake’s cold, sit it flat and make the icing.

  • Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar and then beat them both together.
  • Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. (tip: this should be more on the thick side than a runny consistency)
  • Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the head of the pint!

Guinness Stew

The maltiness of Guinness does wonders to an Irish stew’s gravy, giving it much richer and deeper flavours. Just remember to season it well – Guinness absorbs thyme’s earthy, citrusy notes perfectly and reacts beautifully to a thin spread of fresh black pepper.

Cooking with Guinness

Ingredients

4 rashers of bacon, cut into small pieces

1kg boneless beef

1 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 onions, coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cloves garlic, minced

500ml Guinness

1/4 cup tomato paste

4 sprigs fresh thyme

3 carrots

2 stalks celery

1 teaspoon white sugar

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 1/2 cups chicken stock

4 cups mashed potatoes

Instructions

  • Cook bacon in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Turn off heat and transfer bacon into a large stew pot, reserving bacon fat in the skillet.
  • Season beef chuck cubes generously. Sear in the hot fat on both sides until browned, about 5 minutes. Place beef in stew pot with bacon, leaving fat in skillet. Turn heat down to medium; cook and stir onions in the retained fat in the skillet until lightly browned, 5-8 minutes.
  • Cook garlic with onions until soft; pour beer into skillet and stir with a wooden spoon. Pour cooking liquid from skillet into the stew pot. Stir in tomato paste, thyme sprigs, carrots, celery, sugar, black pepper, and enough chicken broth to cover.
  • Bring stew to a gentle simmer; reduce heat to low and cover pot. Simmer stew until beef is fork-tender, about 2 hours. Stir stew occasionally and skim fat or foam if desired.
  • Remove cover. Bring stew to a low boil and cook until stew has slightly thickened, 15-20 minutes. Remove and discard thyme sprigs and adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Ashford Castle Guinness Bread

Beer breads are often popular but Ashford Castle’s receives countless rave reviews. Great toasted, its dark, buttery ways can be dunked in the stew (above) or smothered in grilled hams, melted cheeses and sweet pickles.

Cooking with Guinness

Ingredients

450g brown flour

60g soft butter

14g bread soda

7g cream of tartare

8g salt

50g whole egg

75g honey

375g Guinness

Instructions

  • Mix all dry ingredients with the butter and honey.
  • Add the eggs and buttermilk and mix until all combined.
  • Place into a 1kg loaf tin.
  • Bake for 50 minutes at 170°C.
  • Leave to cool before cutting.

If these St Patrick’s Day treats have got you in the mood for Irish cooking, visit Ashford Castle or its sister property The Lodge at Ashford Castle to sample Ireland’s delights in person.

Image Credits: Guinness Cake © Shutterstock/2xDP. Irish Stew © iStock/LauriPatterson. Sliced Bread © iStock/kobeza.