You may have a bottle of Angostura aromatic bitters in your cupboard saved for cocktails. However, now’s the time for it to take a centre stage in your kitchen. Mecca went to a masterclass with TV chef Simon Rimmer to discover how there’s more to this bartender’s favourite than a cocktail ingredient.
Angostura bitters to me had always meant cocktails. Essential for a Manhattan or great to add a kick to a champagne cocktail. When I learnt that Simon Rimmer planned to cook with them, I was intrigued. Hearing that brownies might be involved as well helped to add to my curiosity!
Simon’s long been a fan of this bartender’s favourite and was keen to show how they could become the latest kitchen essential.
He said “I’m amazed that more people don’t use bitters in their cooking. As a chef it’s great to have a product that not only enhances flavour but that’s also so versatile. Savoury or sweet it really brings ingredients to life and I’ve tried to demonstrate this in the recipes I’ve developed”.
“When I first tried bitters I used just a dash as you would with a cocktail, but with food you can be far more liberal. Don’t be shy with the amount; really go to town with it. You can use it like a condiment or slap it on as a marinade. Above all enjoy it, you’ll be amazed the difference it will make.”
For savoury dishes Simon said that we should think of using Angostura bitters in the similar way as we’d use Worcestershire sauce. A drop of it added to grated cheese would really lift your next cheese toastie.
Simon’s use of bitters in savoury dishes has a traditional origin, so shouldn’t be seen as a modern fad. In Trinidad and Tobago, where the House of Angostura is based, bitters has become a staple part of the national diet. Islanders have added bitters by the spoonful to stews, soups and marinades since it started production in 1820. It’s also often used to replace salt when cooking and is sodium and gluten free.
I wondered whether bitters in brownies would give them a bitter taste. But it’s quite the contrary. The cherry and chocolate flavours were enhanced. Any acidity from the cherries disappeared and took on a magnificent flavour.
Angostura aromatic bitters cherry chocolate brownies
400g pitted cherries
150g icing sugar
1 tbs Angostura® aromatic bitters
300g 70% cocoa solid dark chocolate
200g caster sugar
150g light brown sugar
1 vanilla pod
½ tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
To Finish: 12 meringue nests, broken into small pieces
300ml whipping cream
2 tbs icing sugar
1 vanilla pod
125g greek yoghurt
Soak cherries & icing sugar in Angostura® aromatic bitters for 2 hours and set aside
Chop 100g chocolate and set aside. Melt 200g chocolate with 250g butter, and let cool
Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla for 5 mins until light and ﬂuffy. Sift the ﬂour, cocoa, baking powder & salt
Gently fold the mixtures together
Add both the melted and chopped chocolate, half the cherries and a little of the juice from the cherries
Spoon mixture into a greased, lined 23x32cm baking tin. Bake for 35 mins at 180c, let the brownies cool
For the Eton Mess. You simply whip the cream with vanilla and icing sugar. Fold in the yoghurt and add the meringue pieces & remaining cherries
Serve a square of brownie with a big dollop of the delicious Eton Mess
The brownies were polished off in record time when I took them back to the office. I’ll definitely repeat this recipe again and maybe try with a different fruit such as blueberries or redcurrants.
I hope you’ll give them a try and get your friends and family to guess what the secret flavour enhancing ingredient is.
For more Angostura® aromatic bitters recipes from Simon Rimmer visit Angostura’s Facebook page. To see Simon in action making the recipes visit their YouTube channel.
Inspired? Great British Chefs collection of chocolate recipes are perfect to satisfy any chocolate cravings.