Tribute Brownies...Beer & Pretzel Brownies

A year ago I lost a best friend.  I lost my dad.

Thinking about it now it's hard to believe that a year has gone by.  Most times it's hard to accept it has been a year since I've seen him.  I've been dreading this "anniversary" knowing it just brings me one day further away from when I was last with him.

Cancer, as it turns out, cares nothing for how old you are, what important things and people you have in your life; the plans you've made.  Cancer doesn't discriminate.  My dad had 5 short months after his diagnosis.  He was just 53 with a wife, two kids, and two beautiful, young grandchildren-my boys- just 3 and 1 at the time.

Nothing can prepare you for devastating news.  Nothing can prepare you as you watch someone physically become someone you no longer recognize.  But we got through it.  We always, no matter how desperate, held onto hope.  We focused on good days.  We focused on the boys...the everyday norm that can be so easily taken for granted.  We kept our eyes set on better times ahead just to get through the really difficult days.  We realized, in the end, better times meant no more fighting, no more pain, only peace.

We never talked about the past in a "What if?" scenario.  We never laid out regrets.  There was no point.

We bonded as we always had.  As a child of divorce, time with my dad was always "fun time".  Time we spent to stay up late to hang out, eat junk food, watch movies, and talk about life-without judgement.  This time never ended; not when I got married, not when I had kids.  The only thing that changed was that he came to me.

As my love for baking grew, we bonded more and more over food.  He was my biggest cheerleader.

To honor my dad, after this year, I've created a brownie with some of his favorite snack foods, and his weekend beverage of choice-beer.  As I use these ingredients, I envision him at his bar, popping some peanuts in his mouth as he cranks up the tunes.  I see him munching on his Butter Braid pretzels while watching a race or a game.

It's how I'll always remember him.  Joining him in his favorite things while I spent quality time with the first man to ever hold my heart.

I love you, Dad.  I miss you more than ever.  These are for you.

Tribute Brownies
makes 16 brownies

Pretzel Crust:
- 1 1/4 c. butter pretzels, fine crumb
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 c. salted peanut, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x9 inch pan with parchment paper.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.

Use a food processor to get pretzels to a fine crumb, like a graham cracker crumb texture.  In a small bowl, combine pretzel crumbs, sugar, and melted butter.  Press down evenly into your prepared pan.

Hand chop or pulse peanuts in food processor until they are smaller pieces, not dust.  Sprinkle over crust, and lightly press down.  Bake for 6 minutes.  Remove from oven.

Brownie Layer:
- Use your favorite brownie mix and prepare as directed on the box.  I used regular brownie mix, not "Family Size"

Evenly pour brownie batter over slightly baked pretzel crust.  Gently spread and work into corners as needed.

Return to oven, bake according to box instructions.  I baked mine for 34 minutes.

Ganache Layer:
- 9 oz. milk chocolate
- 1/2 c. heavy cream
- 3 Tbsp. beer*
- 1 c. chocolate covered potato chips, chopped* (optional)

While brownies bake, place chocolate and heavy cream in a heat-safe bowl, and place over simmering water.  Let chocolate and heavy cream sit for 3 minutes without touching.  Remove from heat and whisk until chocolate is smooth and shiny.  For a less strong beer flavor, add beer now and whisk.  For a stronger flavor, add right before brownies are removed from oven, about 20 minutes or so later, whisk until chocolate is smooth.

* I used a dark, stout beer.  It seems to pair nicely with chocolate.  Normally I would use dark chocolate, but given the saltier nature of this brownie, I needed something sweeter.

* I coated Lays Wavy Potato Chips with Merckens Dark Candy Coating Chocolate.  This step is optional if you want to do it, it adds a little extra "pizzazz" to the finished look.

Once brownies are removed from oven, evenly pour chocolate ganache over the top, using an offset spatula as needed.  Place on a wire rack and let cool for an hour and top with chocolate covered potato chips. Cool completely before cutting.

These brownies are unique/special just like I wanted them to be!  Salty, sweet, smooth, crunchy, and gooey.  I noticed an initial beer flavor when I bit into them.  I would say these are some "manly" brownies, and something to keep in mind for a tailgating party!


  1. What a beautiful tribute to your dad. He loved you more than anything and was so very proud of all your accomplishments. These brownies truly have all the ingredients of a man who loved life and just wanted to have fun!! He is truly missed, but not forgotten.

  2. Kim, this post made me teary eyed!!! Cancer surely does blow big balls. Two years ago, my dad had prostate cancer treated, but it never really left and travelled to his lower back, in the bone. We found out last April. So far, hormone therapy is working well, but I'm still scared sometimes. I feel a bond w/ my dad too. We're both weird in the same ways and just get each other. Again, I'm so sorry about your dad's passing. 53 is waaay too young; my dad is 65 and I still think of him as young. Anyways, this post is really beautiful, I'm sure your dad knows it, and the brownies look sooooo good!

    1. You're right, cancer DOES blow big balls! I'm sure you're not taking anytime with him for granted! I hope his therapy continues to work well. Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. Heartbreaking! The brownies look delicous, of course he would love them!

  4. I am so sorry for your loss. Cancer can suck it, that's what I think. I'm sure he would love these brownies, and I hope that you are doing okay today.

  5. how awesome to pay tribute to such a cool and funny person. Cancer is awful my grandfather which is Karens uncle is now going through a terminal battle with cancer. It is wonderful to build memories while your loved one is in your life. I'm sure your dad would enjoy the brownies and eat them while watching the races or a perhaps a football game.

  6. What a handsome man! I am so sorry for your loss! :( You have a wonderful blog and I'm looking forward to happier posts! Have a blessed day!
    xoxo Cookin' Cowgirl

  7. Such a great way to remember your dad and to pay tribute to him!! It is never easy to lose someone you heart goes out to you!!! These brownies look absolutely amazing...i love the pretzel crust!!!

  8. What a wonderful tribute to your dad. Thought about you, Karen and Ryan Monday. Know you all miss him so much. Might make a batch of these while listening to the Reds. Look delicious.

  9. So sorry about your dad!! What a sweet tribute! And he would absolutely love these brownies!! Thanks for coming to our "Strut Your Stuff Saturday." We hope you'll be back next week! -The Sisters