Decadent and Delicious
In the town of Stykkishólmur where Simon Sturluson harvests his blue mussels and dulse, there is a cozy restaurant that serves a beer called Black Death, which features a skull and crossbones on its label. The beer dates back to only 2011, but it was inspired by the story of a family that lived on a small island just off the coast from Stykkishólmur in the early twentieth century. They brewed a dark beer to trade with sailors who passed by the island for items they had collected on their journeys through Europe. This is why the contemporary version is nicknamed the “sailor’s beer” and has a flavor profile that recalls roasted coffee and chocolate. Gunnar uses the beer in this recipe, but any good-quality porter will work. This elaborate dessert of porter-infused apples, cake, and fudge is decadent and delicious, but any of the elements would provide plenty of enjoyment on its own.
Apple Cake with Porter Fudge Caramel & Hazelnut Granola
- 1 1/3 cups (315 ml) porter
- 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) cider vinegar
- Scant 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 green apples (such as Granny Smith), peeled and cored, then flesh scooped with a melon baller (reserve
- scraps for apple puree, below)
- 4 tablespoons (55 g) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
- Scraps from apples (above)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup (220 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 1/3 cups (300 g) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 1/3 cups (300 g) all-purpose flour
- Scant 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- Scant 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
- Rounded 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- Rounded 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 cup (100 g) apple puree (above), at room temperature
Porter Fudge Caramel
- Scant 1/2 cup (95 g) sugar
- 1/3 cup (70 g) liquid glucose
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) porter
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup (75 g) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream
- 2/3 cup (100 g) steel-cut oats
- 2/3 cup (100 g) barley flour (see notes)
- 1/3 cup (50 g) whole wheat flour
- Scant 1/2 cup (100 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
- Scant 13/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, melted
- Scant 1/2 cup (50 g) toasted and chopped hazelnuts
- 2 tablespoons puffed barley (see notes)
Milk Ice Cream
- 4 1/2 cups (1 L) milk
- 1 1/4 cups (250 g) sugar
- 1/4 cup (50 g) liquid glucose
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 g xanthan gum
To make the porter-infused apples, combine the porter and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the vinegar and salt, remove from the heat, and let cool to room temperature. Combine the porter mixture and the apples in a vacuum bag and seal on the highest setting until the apples are as compressed as possible in order to infuse them with the liquid. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, then reserve the liquid and solids together (see notes).
To make the apple puree, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and apple scraps and cook, stirring, for about 20 minutes, until the apples are mushy and nearly caramelized. Season with the salt. Transfer to a blender and process at high speed until a puree forms, adding a little water if necessary to achieve a smooth consistency.
To make the apple cake, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter two 4 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch (11 by 6-cm) loaf pans. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the eggs on medium speed until fluffy. Add the brown sugar and butter and whisk by hand until dissolved. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg and stir to mix well. Add the flour mixture and the apple puree to the egg mixture and stir until incorporated.
Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pans, dividing it evenly. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out dry. Let cool in the pans on a wire rack to room temperature, then turn out of the pans.
To make the caramel, prepare an ice bath. Combine the sugar, glucose, porter, salt, and butter in a small, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until it registers 356°F (180°C) on a candy thermometer. This is a finicky step in this recipe and the temperature should be monitored extremely closely to prevent burning. The glucose will help to prevent it but attentive eyes help too. While whisking constantly, add the cream in a slow, steady stream, remove from the heat, then continue to heat to 234°F (112°C). Nest the pan in the ice bath, then let the caramel cool to room temperature, stirring frequently so that it remains smooth. It will have a fudgelike consistency. Transfer to a container, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.
To make the granola, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, combine the oats, flours, brown = sugar, and salt and stir to mix well. Add the butter and stir until all of the ingredients are evenly coated.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet and spread it in an even layer about 1 inch (2 1/2 cm) thick. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool to room temperature, then break into bite-size pieces. Add the hazelnuts and puffed barley and toss and stir to combine. Transfer to an airtight container and store at room temperature until ready to use. It will keep for up to 3 days.
To serve, place a scoop of the ice cream on a plate and arrange a slice of the cake, a spoonful of the porter-infused apples, and a bite-size piece of the caramel alongside. Garnish the plate with the granola.
Milk Ice Cream
To make the milk ice cream, prepare an ice bath. Combine the milk, sugar, and glucose in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat, add the salt and xanthan gum, and stir until dissolved. Nest the pan in the ice bath and let it stand, stirring occasionally, until chilled. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Scoop into an air-tight container, place in the freezer, and freeze for about 12 hours, until solid.
• Brown rice flour is easier to source than barley flour and can be substituted. The one caveat is that it will not bind as well as barley flour.
• Puffed barley is available in some specialty food stores, but it is also easy to make at home. To make it, preheat the oven to the lowest setting. Spread hulled barley on a baking sheet and dehydrate in the oven for 12 hours, until golden brown. Pour rapeseed oil to a depth of 2 inches (5 cm) into a heavy, deep pot and heat to 365°F (185°C). Add the dehydrated barley to the hot oil and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Using a wire skimmer, transfer to paper towels to drain. Let cool to room temperature before using.
• The mixture of porter and apples can instead be refrigerated in a large ziplock bag, with all of the air pressed out before sealing.