Ask any baker about their favorite childhood memories and I’ll bet that many come up with warm and cozy stories about baking Christmas cookies and fighting over licking the beaters with their pesky siblings. At least that’s what fills this baker’s head during this time of year. That and dancing sugar plums.
I always hated that my mom sent me to share one of the dough-slathered beaters with my kid brother. He never helped but always got to reap the rewards.
Fear not, beer-bakers! This year you can keep the dough all for yourself if your kid brother is too young to enjoy delicious beer. If he’s old enough, you can go ahead and just tell yourself that he wouldn’t appreciate it, and keep the goodies to yourself anyways.
I wanted to make something with my hands-down favorite Washington-Brewed IPA, Fremont Brewing’s Interurban IPA. Luckily, I have an easy supply of this beer, as it’s brewed across the street from my house. The beer is almost apricot-like in its hop flavors, making it a great addition to holiday cookies with dried apricots! I also went ahead and made some cookies with Fremont’s Abominable Ale, a winter warmer which pairs nicely with tart dried cranberries.
Sablés are deliciously short-textured slice and bake cookies. Yes, you can roll them out and cut out shapes if you like, but I’m a big fan of rolling them in large crystals of sparkling decorating sugar and slicing them. I like the crunch on the outside, and you can incorporate complimentary ingredients into the sugar. You’ll see below that I chopped up some hop pellets (Centennial), and mixed them with the sugar for the outside of the Interurban IPA cookies. You can mix in all manner of things: crushed up malt or coffee beans (chocolate malt would be great with the Abominable cookie), orange zest (fabulous if you make the cookies with a Belgian Wit), even crushed spices like nutmeg, cardamom, and homebrewing staples such as grains of paradise and coriander.
The beers I used:
Style: Winter warmer.
Tasting notes: Roasty, spicy, and delicious. The sweet and spicy malt profile is what makes this beer such a great choice for cookies with dried cranberries.
Other beers that would be appropriate:
Jubelale: I’ve brought this one up a few times, a classic Pacific Northwest winter warmer. It even just pairs well with holiday cookies.
Maritime Pacific Jolly Roger: This one is nicely hop-forward. The floral flavors and bitterness will bring something extra special to the cookies.
Elysian Bifrost: A very fruity winter ale, with a bit of sherry flavor. This one would be great with raisins instead of dried cranberries, and maybe a touch of nutmeg.
Style: West Coast IPA.
Tasting notes: This is my all-time favorite Washington IPA. It’s light-bodied enough to be refreshing, bitter enough to have some punch, and packed with hop flavor. The hop flavors are the delicious citrus and grapefruit that I love, and a bit of funky fuzzy peach/apricot. Yum. The great thing about IPAs is that they are good-drinking year round, and this one is sure to please your palate.
Other beers that would be appropriate:
Boundary Bay IPA: Yes, please. This one is more piney in its hop character. The body is a bit more heavy and the caramel notes come out more. When making cookies with this one, I would use a bit of Chinook hops with the sugar coating instead of the Centennial I use below.
New England Gandhi-Bot Double IPA: If you ever get a chance round these parts to drink this – do it, and make some cookies. A friend sent me a can once, and I was ever thankful. Super lemony, almost to the point of tart-ness (refreshingly so) in the hop character. I love the body, the balance, the bitterness. There’s an earthy taste that lingers after you swallow. Yum.
The pastry recipes:
Holiday Sablés with Beer and Dried Fruit
(makes about 30 cookies)
|7 T (100 g)||granulated sugar|
|2 ¼ C (320 g)||pastry flour|
|½ C (4 oz)||beer|
|½ C (70 g)||chopped dried fruit|
|½ C||sparkling decorator’s sugar|
1. Cream the butter and the sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can use a hand mixer, too, if that’s what you have). You want this to be nice and smooth, so let it go for a while.
2. While the butter and sugar are creaming, reduce 3 oz (6 T) of your beer to 1.5 oz (3 T) over medium heat. Pour this over the chopped fruit along with the remaining 1 oz (2 T) of fresh beer.
3. Once the butter and sugar are creamed, blend in the egg yolk until combined. Drain the beer off of the dried fruit and blend that in as well.
4. Add the pastry flour, salt, and dried fruit and mix until combined.
5. Dump the log of dough on a well-floured pastry board and roll into a log about 5 cm in diameter and about 36 cm in length. Wrap in plastic wrap and allow to chill for at least 2 hours before baking.
6. When you’re ready for baking, preheat the oven to 350°F. Stack two half-sheet pans and top with parchment paper. I do it this way because it helps keep the bottoms of the cookies from browning too fast in my oven (which is not a convection oven).
7. Mix your egg white with a bit of water, a couple of teaspoons will do. Slather it on the sides of your cookie log. Dump the decorating sugar (with its flavoring agent mixed in, mine is some chopped up Centennial hop pellets for the IPA cookies) onto a sheet of parchment and roll your cookie log in it until it is evenly coated.
8. Slice the log with a sharp knife, making each cookie a bit more than a centimeter in thickness. Place on prepared cookie sheets and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until light golden brown.
See you in 2012!