Beer with dessert is a little trickier than wine and dessert. There is no category of dessert beer, and beers rarely have the sweetness of dessert wines. Unless the wine or beer is as sweet as or sweeter than the dessert, you’ll get a jarring affect similar to the one from dry Champagne and wedding cake.
I initially thought that the sweetness in a stout as well as the chocolate, caramel, and coffee flavors would work with the Sour Cherry Chocolate Torte I made from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts (Knopf). Unfortunately, though the stout was sweet for beer, it wasn’t sweet enough for the cake.
My second choice, Lindeman’s Framboise Lambic, worked out superbly. Lambics like the Lindeman’s (they also make peach, cassis and apple, though they weren’t as good with the cake) go through a second fermentation when the fruit is added. The result is a light but complex beer with the intensely fruity flavor of perfectly ripe, crushed strawberries. The berry flavor nicely mingles with the beer, which gives acidity and a touch of earthiness. And, of course, raspberries have long been a companion of chocolate.
(Here is some general information on beer and food pairings.)
Sour Cherry Torte
(Adapted from “Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts,” Knopf)
- Butter-flavored spray
- Fine, dry breadcrumbs (about 1/2 cup)
- 1-pound can red sour pitted cherries in water (2 cups drained)
- 6 ounces semi sweet chocolate
- 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2/3 cup sifted all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) almonds, finely ground
- Powdered sugar
1)Adjust a rack one-third up from the bottom of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch spring-form pan with the butter flavored spray and dust with bread crumbs, shaking out any excess.
2)Drain the cherries and lay them out in a single layer on a double thickness of paper towels.
3)Melt the chocolate on the top of a double boiler. Stir until smooth. Let cool.
4)Cream the butter in a bowl with an electric mixer. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and sugar. Beat well. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula and beating after each addition. On low speed, add the chocolate and mix well. Add the almonds and mix well. Add the flour, scraping the sides of the bowl, and mix only until incorporated.
5)Spread half of the batter evenly in the spring-form pan. Add the cherries, spreading them evenly with your fingers. Add the remaining batter and smooth evenly.
6)Bake for 50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Then remove the sides and allow to completely cool before removing the bottom. Put on a serving platter and dust the top with powdered sugar.
Serves 8 to 10.