Recipe: Bar Cookies. . .With Guinness

The key ingredient!

The key ingredient!

When we’re looking for a special St. Patrick’s Day treat, we turn first to our favorite Irish cook, Margaret Johnson, author of “Flavors of Ireland” and nine other cookbooks celebrating Irish cuisine. And she has something special for us this year—Guinness for dessert!

We’ll let her tell it:

“No one was more surprised than I to learn that desserts could be made with Irish stouts, beers, and ales. Drinking them was a no-brainer, and using them for marinades and flavoring stews was a great idea, but I thought desserts were another matter. That was before I realized that the sweet flavor produced by yeast and hops could easily translate to cakes, breads, and bars like these (see recipe below). This recipe originated with the brewers of Guinness more than three decades ago. Note: you can also make this in an 8- or 9-in. square pan for more of a cake-like finish.

Guinness Applesauce Bars with Lemon Drizzle
Makes 27 bars

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup Guinness stout
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Lemon Drizzle Icing
1 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease a 9 x 13 in. baking pan and dust with flour; tap out excess.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, and cinnamon. Set aside.
3. In another large bowl, stir together the applesauce, brown sugar, oil, and Guinness. Mix thoroughly. Add the flour mixture, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the raisins, dates, and walnuts.
4. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Cut the bars into 9 rows by 3 rows.
5. To make the drizzle, in a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, milk, and lemon juice. Drizzle the mixture over the bars and serve immediately.

You can join Margaret M. Johnson on a culinary tour of Ireland next October 8-15 when you can visit and have a tasting at the Guinness factory yourself. The 8-day escorted tour ($2,468, land only price based on double occupancy) includes deluxe accommodations plus visits and tastings at the Burren Smokehouse, the Jameson distillery, and a half-day, hands-on cooking class with Chef Catherine Fulvio at Ballynocken House in County Wicklow, among other things. For more information and a complete itinerary, go to Margaret’s website.

Author: Denise Foley

Denise is one of the founding editors of and a veteran magazine and newspaper writer and editor.

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