I’ve got a secret recipe for you:
One part rhubarb, two parts hope.
That’s the recipe for spring here in Seattle. Oh, and the rhubarb is optional.
Since my discovery of Snoqualmie Brewery and their Spring Fever Belgian Grand Cru a few years ago, the waiting period between gloom and summer around here has become a bit more exciting. The beer is awesomely fruity and refreshing, and is a perfect addition to spritz cookies and rhubarb jam.
Before I continue, I need to confess something. I did something really nerdy.
I went to Emerald City Comicon.
Not only did I attend the famed nerd gathering, but I actually stood in line and got Wil Wheaton’s autograph.
Yes. I think Wil Wheaton is pretty awesome. I am admitting it in public. It has nothing to do with his participation in a television show from the 90s with a title that rhymes with Bar Check (a show that my sister forced me to watch as a child – against my will, of course).
Nah. It’s because he’s also a homebrewer.
In fact, he was kind enough to autograph my AHA membership card. Cheers, Mr. Wheaton. Keep on brewin’ on.
Style: BeerAdvocate calls it a Belgian Strong Pale Ale, the bottle calls it a Belgian Style Grand Cru Ale. This area of beer styles is full of delicious yeast-driven flavors: fruity esters, spicy notes, and bready-ness. Often the beers are brewed with spices and such that boost the yeasty esters (coriander, grains of paradise, and orange peel are common). In the case of the Belgian Pale Ale or the Belgian Strong Pale Ale, some hop notes are usually present, and Snoqualmie definitely went for floral and spicy hops in this one.
Tasting notes: I love that this beer is sweet but not cloying. It doesn’t stick to the inside of your mouth for long, which makes it pretty refreshing. The citrus notes remind me a bit of orange flower water, and the spice is definitely coriander. It gives the rhubarb jam kind of an earthy malty sweetness in the background, and it brightens up the cookie dough and the ganache drizzle with its hint of spice and citrus.
Other beers that would be appropriate:
Duvel: The quintessential Belgian Strong Pale Ale. This beer actually tastes more like apples and spice than floral/citrus, so it would definitely rock with the rhubarb.
De Dolle Bos Keun: I’ve written about Bos Keun, before. I’m sure of it. This is an old favorite. The cute pink cartoon bunny on the label inspired me (and Mr. Beerfordessert) to name our homebrewed clone of the beer “Harvey.” If you use this one, definitely use orange blossom honey in the rhubarb jam. It will be legendary.
La Chouffe: I can’t jump into spring here without mentioning La Chouffe. I’ve had a long love affair with La Chouffe and that cute little gnome on the label. It’s refreshing, peachy, and very spicy.
The pastry recipes:
If you don’t want to make the rhubarb jam, the spritz cookies can still be delicious. Use some of that raspberry (or strawberry) jam sitting around in your fridge. Mix in a bit of the Spring Fever, reduce it down for a few minutes over low heat, and go to town.
Rhubarb Jam with Spring Fever and Honey
(makes about 2 C of jam)
|~6 stalks (16 oz)||fresh rhubarb, diced|
|¾ C + 2T (7 oz)||granulated sugar|
|¼ C (3 oz)||honey|
|1 T + 1 t||lemon juice (about half a lemon)|
|½ C + 2 T (5 oz)||Snoqualmie Spring Fever|
1. The day before you make the jam: Place all the ingredients in a large bowl, toss, cover with parchment, and store in refrigerator overnight.
2. The next day, drain the juice from the preparation into a large heavy-bottomed pan with high sides and cook over high heat (skimming occasionally) until the mixture reaches 221°F on a thermometer.
3. Add the diced rhubarb and simmer for about 5 more minutes, until the rhubarb is nearly candied. Transfer to sanitized jars and process in a hot water bath for 20 minutes.
Spring Fever Spritz/Thumbprint Cookies
(makes about 2 dozen 2-inch cookies)
|1 ½ sticks (6 oz)||butter|
|½ C + 1 T (2.5 oz)||powdered sugar|
|1 ea||egg yolk|
|1 ½ C (8 oz)||bread flour|
|½ C||Snoqualmie Spring Fever|
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Make sure your butter is nice and warm (I leave mine sitting out for a while). Cream the butter with the powdered sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy.
2. Meanwhile, reduce the beer by half (to ¼C) by simmering it slowly on the stove.
3. When the butter and powdered sugar are well-creamed, add in the beer and the egg yolk. Mix until well-combined and add the flour, mixing until you have a sticky dough. If you’re making spritz cookies, you’ll want the dough to be very soft and pliable, so it will be easy to pipe or push through a spritz cookie extruder.
4. Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe 2-inch rosettes onto sheet pans lined with parchment. I put a tiny bit of dough underneath the parchment to “glue” it to the sheet pan to keep it from moving around while I’m piping. If you don’t want to pipe or use an extruder, you can drop tablespoonfuls of the dough onto the parchment and move on to the next step.
5. Use your pointer finger (or thumb) dipped in water to make impressions in the center of the cookie. Pipe (I used a paper cone filled with rhubarb jam) or spoon about a teaspoonful of rhubarb jam into the cavity in the center of each cookie.
6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until light golden brown.
Once the cookies are cool, drizzle them with Spring Fever ganache (recipe below) and enjoy!
Spring Fever White Chocolate Ganache
(makes about ¾ C)
|4 oz||white chocolate, chopped|
|2 T (1 oz)||heavy cream|
|½ C (4 oz)||Snoqualmie Spring Fever|
|1 T (0.5 oz)||butter|
1. Reduce the beer to 2 T (1 oz) by simmering it on the stovetop. Add the cream and butter and keep warm.
2. Melt the white chocolate in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water on the stovetop.
3. Once the white chocolate is melted, bring the beer mixture to a boil and pour over top of the chocolate. Whisk to combine.
4. Drizzle with a spoon or a paper cone over the cookies and chill in the refrigerator to set.
I’m in need of inspiration for my next project! I’m loving Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA and was thinking it would be a nice addition to raspberry cheesecake.
Blueberry and custard tartlets with Elysian’s Fallout Cardamom Pale Ale?
Black and tan brownies with Allagash Curieux?
P.S. – Don’t you just love that green plate in my photos with the leaf impressions? It was made by the fabulous Erin of Carlton Ceramics. She used leaves from my hop bines to make the impressions.