maker’s mark ice cream and guinness stout cake

If you think I’m doing a whiskey-and-beer-infused recipe in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, you are obviously under the influence of stereotypical thinking that associates the fine Irish heritage with alcoholic consumption! Then again, this dessert does remind me of an old Irish bartender I worked with back in my college cocktail waitressing days, who served up many a “boilermaker” on many a night to a mostly blue-collar crowd. For those of you who don’t know, a boilermaker happens when you sink a shot of whiskey, shot glass and all, into a 3/4 full glass of beer. The result is a boiling, bubbling-over,  one-two-punch-of-a-drink that quickly helps you forget whatever it is you want to forget and makes you sing very loudly along with the juke box. I think boilermakers have become mostly obsolete, along with the word “bartender”, which has been reverentially replaced by “mixologist”.  Things change.

Still, the gorgeous, smoky, bitter, complex flavors of stout and bourbon whiskey need to be mingled, I think. So, in honor of that carrot-topped bartender (and St. Patrick’s Day) I offer you my Sweet Boilermaker.

The ice cream is a play on Butter Pecan, but by browning the butter, you will take it up a notch toward matching the smoky bourbon you add in at the last moments of the freezing process. The cake, made dark with cocao, gets moisture and a nutty mustiness from the stout. To make it all playful and whimsical and pay homage to the original drink, I made the cake into individual “glasses” hollowed out and ready to receive the “shot” of bourbon ice cream.

I conceived of this dessert when I was in culinary school as part of a menu project I had to complete to graduate. While I was at the French Culinary Institute I kept a journal of sorts on my experience of attending that school, and reinventing myself as a chef, on Blogger page I called “Mrs. Fabulous Goes To Culinary School.” I recently pulled over those pages to FoodFix and you can read them here under the tab “Mrs. Fabulous” along the top of the site. When I reread those pages and looked back at that year— at age 52 I commuted the 3 hours round-trip, three nights a week, for nearly a year, taking classes with kids half my age— I think, no wonder I made up this dessert. I was trying to communicate something: I NEED A DRINK!! A STRONG ONE!

Have a Sweet Boilermaker on me! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Brown Butter Pecan Maker’s Mark Ice Cream
Makes 1 Quart


For the Ice Cream:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
8 egg yolks
4 tablespoons Maker’s Mark bourbon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract.


  1. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes or until butter turns light brown and golden.  Add pecans, and sauté to 2 minutes or until lightly browned and toasted.  Remove pecans with a slotted spoon, reserving browned butter and pecans separately.
  2. Bring milk, cream, sugar and vanilla to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and stir in browned butter.  Beat egg yolks at medium-high speed with electric stand mixer or whisk by hand until thick and pale (about 2 to 3 minutes). Gradually stir one-fourth of hot cream mixture into eggs to temper the eggs. Add yolk mixture to remaining hot cream mixture, stirring constantly. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly for 5 minutes or until mixture thickens and lightly coats back of a spoon. Remove from heat immediately.  Do not overcook, as the eggs will scramble.
  3. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl to strain out any egg curd.  Add vanilla, and pecans. Cover and chill 1 hour or chill over an ice bath until temperature is below 70° F. DO NOT ADD BOURBON AT THIS TIME.  Adding the alcohol before the freezing process will interfere with the mixture’s ability to freeze. Use electric ice cream maker or ice cream maker attachment for stand mixer according to manufacturer’s instructions to achieve desired consistency for ice cream.
  4. For this recipe, I used a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, pouring the cooled cream and nut mixture into the pre-frozen tub attachment for this machine. I ran the mixture on the machine for 35 minutes until a firm but creamy consisteny was attained, incorporating the bourbon at the last minute. If you do not want alcohol content in the ice cream, you can first bring the bourbon to a quick boil in a small sauce pan to burn off the alcohol, then cool before adding to the frozen ice cream. Keep ice cream in freezer until ready to serve.


Bourbon/Maple Syrup.

1 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons MM bourbon

Bring maple syrup to a simmer, add Bourbon. Continue to simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat


Guinness Stout Cake


11 ounces Guinness Stout
10 ounces unsalted butter
3/4 cup cocoa powder (alkalized preferred)
2 1/2 cups finely granulated sugar
2 3/4 cups flour
3 1/4 teaspoons baking soda


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Butter/grease 2,  6-popover-capacity pans.  (You will have extra in case any break when shaping.) Pour Guinness into a large saucepan, add the butter in small chunks and heat until the butter is melted.  Whisk in cocao and sugar, then remove from heat.  In a bowl beat sour cream, eggs and vanilla, then incorporate this to the beer mixture.  Mix flour and baking soda and then incorporate this into the liquid mixture to form the batter. Pour batter into individual popover forms, filling them 3/4’s of the way full and bake for 40-50 minutes (begin checking muffins for doneness at 40 minutes).  Remove from oven when a tester or knife can be inserted into the cake and removed clean. Allow to cool completely before cutting or shaping in any way.  Remove individual cakes from tin.
  2. Procedure: Bourbon/Maple Syrup: While the cake is baking make the Bourbon/Maple Syrup (see recipe). Cool to room temperature and reserve for service.
  3. To serve, carefully slice off the “puffy” top of the cakes to reveal a flat surface. With a cookie cutter, or pastry ringmold/cutter, or melon baller that is at least 1/2 inch smaller in circumferance than the cakes, hollow out a cup for the ice cream to sit in.  The idea is to create a “glass of beer” out of the individual cakes. Create a small pool (about two tablespoons) of the Bourbon/Maple syrup in the center of a small plate. Center the cake “glass” in the middle of the syrup. Using a melon baller as a scoop ) or a spoon, fill the cake “glass” with the ice cream (2-3 small scoops). Drizzle with additional syrup over the top.