Tuesday, April 8, 2008

More than one way to have a beer

I did some cooking worth mentioning this weekend... two batches of cookies on Friday, but also some cookies before Friday, which I meant to tell you about because they're quite amazingly good. However, I had a presentation this afternoon, so that sucked away all my time. By now, I'm kind of zombie-ish... therefore, rather than try to work and make some fatal errors, I'll blog instead.

So anyway, on Friday, I made beer cookies.

Beer cookies? you say.

Yes. Beer in cookies. Could there be anything better?

Two Sundays ago, I was at home, watching the Food Network (my normal routine every weekend day that I'm not out of town or in lab). I happened to catch a cookie cook-off, and you can imagine how intrigued I was. I had been planning to put an end to the morning's laziness before then by going to school, but how could I miss a cookie cook-off?! Seriously.

There were a lot (a lot) of really good cookie recipes on this episode, and actually the first ones I made were the grand prize winners, Exotic Spice Cookies (there's a reason they won), but I want to tell you about the beer cookies because OMG DELICIOUSNESS and they're just so unusual. We'll get to the spice cookies later... especially because the only ones left are the burned ones (oops... my two cookie sheets cook very differently, and I forget that a lot...), so I might make some more soon. I'm going "camping" on Saturday, so perhaps I'll make a batch to bring then (not real camping, because there's no way I'm spending the night in the woods in New Hampshire in April).

So, the beer cookie recipe is linked at the top, go there and make them. Below follows how it went.

First off, you get white beer and you boil it with honey to reduce. Note: I am not a beer drinker, but nearly every one of my friends is, and I am surrounded by beer- but I am fully aware that I am surrounded by good beer, what with all the fab microbrews in Vermont and New Hampshire. So anyway, I boiled beer (I used the seasonal Long Trail white beer).

I boiled it, and I boiled it, and I boiled it some more. I boiled it over an hour. I was kind of getting sick of standing there, waiting for it to boil after half an hour- I wish I could fit chairs in my kitchen. However, it smells really good, like warm beer with honey (which... makes sense, that's what it is), but I always associate beer smell with gross frat houses or helping friends clean up the morning after a party. This is enormously different.

There's no indication in the recipe of how long the boiling should take- it tells you that you'll know when it's done, because eventually the sugar will start to boil, and this makes the boiling look quite obviously different, and once the boiling changes, it's done. I suppose you'd look at 2 bottles of beer with 5 tablespoons of honey and realize you need to reduce it 9-fold and that that could take a while, but arg it took over an hour, even after raising the heat a tad. So, that was kind of annoying, but mostly since I wasn't expecting it. It also didn't boil long enough, because I had 1/2 cup of the syrup instead of the indicated 1/3cup, and I kept boiling it past the stage where the sugar started to boil.

But anyway, I got the beer syrup, even if it was too much (I poured off the extra). Then I combined the syrup with butter, powdered sugar (not used to cookies using powdered instead of granulated sugar!) egg, vanilla, orange zest, and then added in the flour, baking soda and coriander. Mix, mix, mix, bake, bake, bake. Watch these cookies as they're baking... anything in my oven always takes the full time in any range of baking times (i.e. it says bake 10-15min, I need 15. 35-45 min, I need 45) but even though it says 20min, but your oven could need anywhere from 15 to 25 min, my cookies were perfectly done by 17min. They were solid, just barely beginning to brown on the edges. They had a different look to them- a slightly shiny finish on the top (my dad suggested a semi-gloss instead of a matte finish, I think this is fairly accurate) and bubbles. This may be the beer, it may be the powdered instead of granulated sugar, I'm not entirely sure. But they look like something you'd want to eat.

Then they cooled enough to grab one without pain, and I eated it. I tasted the beer, my taster did not. However, he's a beer drinker, and I am not (also, he had a cold, so he might have just not been able to taste them as well as he could have otherwise). It's very faint, the rest of the flavor in there is OMG GOOD. Really.

I let them hang out in tupperware overnight, and the next morning I made a glaze, just a simple one of milk, powdered sugar and orange juice (although I used grapefruit juice, having no oj on hand) that's basically what I use to ice all cutter-cookies. I glazed by dropping half a spoonful on top, and then drizzling all of them when the glaze wasn't spreading around as much as I'd have liked.

They're good- just in case I haven't made that clear yet. They're also pretty, I added some orange zest on top.

Warning: these won't last very long, you will eat them all immediately, nom nom nom. I had to divide them up immediately (ones for me, ones for my parents, and ones to bring to a party) so I didn't start getting into the allotments meant for other people.

I highly recommend these. Also, they are the brainchild of a guy getting his master's in food science, which I think is cool.

Edit: ...... I just thought of something. How good could these be with Guinness?? I'm highly intrigued now. Does Guinness complement citrus at all, or would that be weird?

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