January 25th is Burn’s Night in Scotland, with many celebrations across the United Kingdom. It is a night that celebrates the life and works of Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns; the mid to late-18th century Scottish poet. Considered the national bard of Scotland, Burns was a forerunner to the romantic movement that emerged in 19th century; whose worked included themes on republicanism, economic equality, Scottish identity, sexuality, and the importance of carousing (communing) with your fellow man.
It is this last theme that is much the focus of Burns Night suppers across the UK; where the main dish of the evening is haggis, and the principal drink scotch.
With the approach of Burns Night, I thought about blogging the traditional Burns Night Supper of haggis, neeps & tatties, in a whiskey cream sauce (which we did make – just in advance of official Burns Night). But my search of the internet revealed that most recipes called for buying haggis, cooking it according to package instructions; and serving it with mashed potatoes and turnips. I just didn’t think that a post instructing you on putting something in the oven, and then boiling and mashing two types of root vegetables was going to be that interesting. So I turned to what I had experienced in my two trips to Scotland. Drinking!
During our evening tastings (sitting around drinking our Scotch purchases from the distilleries that morning) on our trip to Islay. My friend extolled the virtues of sea-salt chocolate paired with scotch. So this recipe is inspired by him. Scotch Sea Salt Brownies or more formally – Burns Night Brownies.
I developed this recipe through two iterations. For the first one I followed this recipe from the Cornish Sea Salt Company. I followed the recipe pretty closely, but mine didn’t turn out like their picture. Mine were much thicker, more like cake – British cake, kind of dense. It was good, but my husband liked it more than I did. He even cringed when I told him that I was going to try a different recipe in the fear that he wouldn’t get this one any more. (But really, getting upset when I told him I was going to make another baked good? You’re getting more brownies!)
Upon my Islay friend’s suggestion I decided that round two would focus on a whiskey and sea salt pairing in a caramel sauce that goes over the brownies. And my search of the internet revealed is recipe. However, since my brownie is not St. Patrick’s Day inspired (and I was looking for short cuts) I decided I was going to use the glaze recipe over one of my favorite brownie mixes Ghirardelli. I know, I know, the whole food blogging community has probably dropped (and broken) whatever Le Creuset item they were holding while reading this, but my basic opinion is this: if the scotch – sea salt influence is going to be on top of the brownie, then bakers should be free to use whatever brownie recipe they are comfortable with; and if you’re short on time, Ghirardelli makes a really high quality mix. My mother is the brownie queen, she has two excellent recipes beloved by the family. They freeze really well, and she has been known to courier them internationally. But even she occasionally uses a Ghirardelli mix.
So below is my slightly adapted recipe for Sea Salt Caramel Whiskey Glaze. Based on the amount it made it could probably cover a 9×13 brownie pan; and I think it would be delicious on ice cream as well.
Oh and the verdict? My husband loved them! He mocked me for serving him a brownie with a fork, but agreed that sticky caramel glaze is in fact sticky. He went back for seconds and asked to bring five to work with him for coffee club.
Put sugar into a dry pot and melt over medium heat. Swirl the pan but do not stir. I don’t know why this is, but this is what every caramel recipe I have ever seen says.
Remove from heat and whisk in butter.
Add whiskey and sea salt and stir on low heat until the sauce is smooth again. The water in the whiskey will cause the caramel to get chunky, but it will smooth out eventually.
Cool sauce and then beat in powdered sugar. Thinning out the mixture with the heavy cream.
Pour over brownies. (While taking the brownies out of the pan and then pouring on the syrup makes for a better picture; it makes a mess on your counter top and causes a lot of the sauce to be wasted. I put the brownies back in their pan to prevent further glaze loss.)
The whiskey glaze makes the brownies difficult to cut cleanly, so they will be a little rough around the edges (much like Scotland).
- Cooked and cooled brownies still in their pan
- .5 cups of sugar
- 1.5 tbsp of butter
- .25 cups of scotch
- .75 cups of powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp of heavy cream
- .5 – 1 tsp of sea salt
- Put sugar in a dry sauce pan over medium heat and melt. Swirl the pan occasionally, but don’t stir. Cook to a deep amber color.
- Remove from heat and whisk in butter.
- Add whiskey and sea salt and stir over low heat until the sauce is smooth again.
- Cool sauce.
- Use an electric mixer to add in the powdered sugar thinning with heavy cream as needed.
- Pour over cooled brownies.