Citrus season is always one of my favorite food seasons, so I’m always a little sad to see it go. But the end of citrus season also means the end of winter. It means more color, more sunshine, more warmth, and the fast approach of Seattle Beer Week.
It means sitting on the back porch with a summery beer will soon be a common activity!
Saying goodbye to citrus also means it’s time to start thinking about rhubarb. A friend of mine had an idea to brew a Belgian Witbier with rhubarb, so that is definitely on the docket for upcoming homebrew activities. I’m thinking chamomile would be a good accent spice to the tartness of rhubarb.
Belgian Witbiers got me thinking of these pillowy striped meringue cookies I noticed on Martha Stewart’s website, so I decided to adapt the idea to include some great craft beer flavor.
These juicy cookies began as an idea to play with the citrusy flavors in Belgian Witbiers, but somehow during the process I discovered that a pop of citrusy hops (aptly, in the case of Chainbreaker, Citra) is really important to achieve the desired effect. The otherwise complex sweetness of a Belgian Witbier is lost in all the sugar sweetness of the meringue. If you don’t use Chainbreaker to make these cookies, make sure to find a beer with tons of hop flavor (preferably of the orange-y or grapefruit-y variety).
Style: It’s a cross between a Belgian Witbier and an American IPA. I think it tastes more like a great wheat-forward American Pale, but there is a definitely belgian-y something something going on in the yeast area with this beer. It’s not primarily yeast-driven, like a lot of Belgian styles, so it was easy for me to adapt the beer recipe into a homebrew that you can make with relatively little ability to control the fermentation temperature. (DW Chainbreaker Clone)
Tasting Notes: Immediately, this beer delivers a strong and spicy citrusy flavor. Most likely a combination of the brewing spices (coriander and orange peel) along with a ton of Citra hop flavor (one of my favorite varieties). The taste that lingers in your mouth is sweet, fruity from yeast esters, and slightly spicy. The mouthfeel is excellent: refreshing, but not dry. The character of the head foam is gorgeous and aptly reminiscent of meringue.
Other beers that would be appropriate:
Fremont Brewing Seattle Beer Week 5th Anniversary Pale Ale: This year’s Seattle Beer Week beer is brewed down the street from my house. It’s a delicious and session-able pale ale, and a major Citra bomb, so it’s perfect for these meringue swirls. The aroma alone is enough to put me into a juicy citrus coma. I also discovered that even though I usually don’t prefer the flavor of Simcoe hops, that their grassy and herbal notes (sometimes described as “dank”) are a nice compliment to the Citra hop flavor I love.
Knee Deep Citra Pale Ale: I just tried this beer a few months ago. It’s very dramatic with the Citra flavor in a way that I’m sure would come through beautifully in the cookies. The caramel notes from the malt will give just the right complexity to achieve a balance with the sugary sweetness of the meringues.
Rogue Honey Orange Wheat: I have loved this beer for years. But beware, it is sweet and not hop-forward at all. The orange-y flavor is something special, almost orange-blossom honey like, and it sings with the honey sweetness and there is almost something biscuit-y about the malt flavor.
Georgetown Manny’s Pale Ale: This is a beer that is all over the place in Seattle. Even friends of mine who know nothing of the bounty of our craft beer scene are crazy over this brew, right along with my fellow craft beer geeks. I’d go to this beer for this cookie for the hop character alone. It’s a very nice example of a Northwest inspired pale ale. The hops are powerful and citrusy, without ruining your palate.
The pastry recipe:
(makes about 30 2-inch cookies)
|6 T (3 oz)||Chainbreaker (reduced to 1 T)|
|3 ea (3 oz)||egg whites|
|¾ C – 1T (5 oz)||granulated sugar|
|pinch||cream of tartar|
|½ t||orange zest|
1. Preheat the oven to 215°F.
2. Reduce your Chainbreaker from 3 oz to 1 T (0.5 oz). This is a small amount, so it will go fast. It took me about 5 minutes in a pretty small saucepan.
3. Warm the egg whites, sugar, and Chainbreaker reduction in the bowl of your stand-mixer over a saucepan with simmering water (keep this on the burner over low heat) while whisking for about two to three minutes. You’re looking for the mixture to be slightly warm to the touch.
4. Once the mixture is warmed, add the salt and cream of tartar, put it on the mixer and whip on high for about seven minutes, or until it is cool and has reached stiff peaks. Fold in the orange zest.
5. Now you’ll need a pastry bag, a small round tip (I used Ateco 805), some orange gel paste food coloring, and a small paintbrush. I fold the end of the pastry bag over, lay it on its side, and paint 3 or four vertical stripes of food coloring inside the bag. (Martha Stewart’s site has a great video showing you how to do this here.)
6. Pipe the meringue in swirls on to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. This would be a great time to add a little something extra to this cookie if you like – sprinkle some crushed coriander on top, or even a bit of chopped up hop pellets or wheat malt.
7. Bake in a 215°F oven for about 1 hour or until the meringues are stiff and shiny on the outside (they will still be nice and pillowy on the inside). Cool and enjoy! These will keep nicely for about 3 to 4 days at room temperature (as long as your room isn’t too humid).
For Pi Day this year, I made a tart cherry pie with a delicious Vanilla Bean Imperial Porter. Keep your eyes out for that, and maybe I can squeeze the last bits out of citrus season with some hopped up blood orange curd.