Friday, December 19, 2014

Framboise Lemon Bars

Lemon and raspberries may seem like more of a summer treat, but these bars will add a refreshing palette cleanser among all of those other holiday sweets. Lemon Bars marry well with any number of beers, but for the raspberry kick, Framboise seemed the most appropriate. This sour style of fruit beer is readily available at most liquor stores. Lindemans is by far the best known, but I'm sure you can find any number of local or other export varieties on the shelves! These bars were made with Boom Island's Framboise, which is only available from their taproom. And sadly, very limited quantities remain.

The recipe is my own

Yields 24-28 bars

For the crust
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup Framboise
For the filling
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup flour
  • juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • ¼ cup pureed raspberries
  • ½ cup Framboise
  • 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • powdered sugar for garnish
  • raspberries for garnish

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  • Whisk together the powdered sugar, flour, and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Stir in the Framboise until just combined.
  • Press crust into an ungreased 9” x 13” baking dish. A pint glass works wonderfully to roll the surface into a smooth, even layer.
  • Bake the crust for 25-30 minutes, or until just beginning to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Whisk together the eggs, flour, lemon juice, zest, raspberries, Framboise, sugar and salt. Pour the mixture on top of the cooled crust.
  • Bake lemon bars for 20-25 minutes for until the filling is set and just slightly jiggles in the center. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Refrigerate for at least two hours., preferably overnight
  • Before serving, cut chilled bars into 24-28 pieces. Dust generously with powdered sugar. Top each bar with a fresh raspberry.
  • ENJOY!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

This marks my first attempt at biscotti. Why until now? I have no idea. I was pleasantly surprised at how easily it came together. The recipe reminded me a lot of an Irish soda bread, sliced and baked a second time. This particular fruit and nut combo I chose to pair with the citrus-y Belgian-style beer pictured. Though they work equally well with coffee or tea. A chocolate hazelnut version may be in the near future.

 These cookies would be a treat on Christmas morning with a steaming cup of coffee. Bright red cranberries and a hint of green from the pistachios keep them dressed up for the season.

Adapted from Kristen Jenkins’ recipe for Donna Hay Magazine

Yields about 80 cookies

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ c sugar
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest
  • 1 c dried cranberries
  • 1 c shelled, unsalted pistachios

  • Preheat the oven to 325 F
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and sugar. Add the eggs, vanilla and zest, beating until just combined. Fold in the cranberries and pistachios.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.
  • Divide the dough into two pieces. Roll each portion into a log, about 10 inches long. Flatten slightly. Transfer both loaves to a parchment baking sheet.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until firm.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Once cool, cut each loaf into ¼ inch slices using a serrated knife. Arrange slices on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake 8-0 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely on the baking sheets.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Viennese Pecan Crescents

Christmas cookie season is upon us! I am working again with Boom Island Brewing Company to pair up these festive treats with each of their beers. But even if you aren't a beer person, these cookies are sure to please. Buttery shortbread, rich pecans and a healthy dusting of powdered sugar...what's not to love!  The shaping of these cookies is a tad tedious, but worth the extra time. And after these cookies are baked, they freeze beautiful so you can happily enjoy them throughout the holiday season.

Recipe adapted from Gale Gand

Yields about 5 dozen cookies

  • 1 c unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ c sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ c all-purpose flour
  • 1 c finely ground pecans
  • powdered sugar for coating

  • Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Gradually add the flour and nuts and mix until just combined. The dough with be very crumbly.
  • Shape the dough into tiny crescents using about 2 tsp of dough for each cookie. Place on an ungreased sheet pan in rows, leaving 1 inch in between. Chill the cookies for at least one hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Bake about 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown.
  • Allow cookies to cool slightly and then dredge in powdered sugar to coat.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Speculaas (Belgian Spice Cookies)

Silvius Cookie Pairing
Prettig sinterklaasfeest! Happy St. Nicholas Day! Enjoy the fest with these traditional Belgian spice cookies!

Recipe adapted from NPR

yields about 3 dozen small cookies

  • 1 c unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ c sugar
  • ¾ c brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 c all purpose flour
  • ½ c almond meal*
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp salt
* almond meal or almond flour is readily available at most grocery store. To make your own, pulse about ⅔ cup sliced or slivered almonds with 1 Tbsp flour in a blender or food processor until finely ground.

  • Cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy and well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined.
  • In a second bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, baking soda, spices and salt.
  • Gradually beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly.
  • Divide dough into 2 portions. Roll into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out ¼ inch thick. Cut using cookie cutters. Arrange on a lightly greased cookie sheet, spacing the cookies at least an inch apart. Alternatively, press the dough into a cookie mold to shape.
  • 10 to 15 minutes, or until cookies are browned and slightly crisp.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Spiced Cheesecake with Black Currant Sauce

This cheesecake is the last recipe of my Thanksgiving collaboration with Boom Island Brewing Company. Every holiday season the brewery releases a Belgian holiday brew, dubbed Yule. Yule is a potent beer...upwards of 12%-13% ABV. A Belgian dark strong ale is probably the closest style one could use to describe it. Each year this holiday treat is brewed with a different fruit. This currant.

To match the richness of the boozy backbone and rich malt, I felt a cheesecake was appropriate. The spices are a nod to the holiday season...cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. And the gingersnap crust of course! The topping I opted for a black currant jam (far easier to find than fresh or frozen black currants this time of year) to tie into the fruit undertones of this beer. Raspberries, blackberries or blueberries would be equally as welcome.

This cheesecake was a treat to come up with. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

The recipe is my own

serves 10-12

for the crust
• 25-30 gingersnap cookies (2 cups finely ground)
• ½ tsp ground cinnamon
• 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
• 2 Tbsp brown sugar
• ¼ tsp salt

for the filling
• 24 oz cream cheese, softened
• ½ cup sugar
• ½ cup brown sugar, packed
• 4 eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 ½ cups sour cream
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• ½ tsp ground nutmeg
• ¼ tsp of allspice
• ½ tsp salt

for the topping
• 1 cup black currant jam

• Preheat oven to 350°F
• Place gingersnap cookies in a food processor. Cover and process until the cookies are the texture of very coarse sand. Add butter, brown sugar salt, and cinnamon. Process until well combined. Transfer mixture into a lightly greased 9-inch spring form pan. Using the smooth bottom of a glass, press the crumbs down into the base and 1-inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Once chilled, place spring form pan on a baking sheet and bake until crust is fragrant and set, about 10 minutes.
• In a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the sour cream, cream cheese and sugars until smooth and free of lumps, 1-2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined. Stir vanilla, spices and salt. Pour into crust.
• Lower oven temperature to 325°F. Set the cheesecake on a baking sheet and bake for 60-65 minutes, or until the center is mostly set, but still jiggles slightly. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the spring form pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen. Unmold and transfer to a cake plate.
• Spread a thin layer of currant jam over the top of the cheesecake. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

IPA Cranberry Sauce

photo by Heather Hanson

Nix the canned cranberry sauce this year and make this homemade sauce using your favorite IPA! IPAs can become even more bitter when boiled or reduced, so I chose add it at the end. This late addition allows the more delicate hops flavors and aromas to shine through. IPAs with citrus, floral or tropical fruit notes work best with the tart cranberries. Please celebrate responsibly. The alcohol does not cook out of this one. While there is not enough beer included to get anyone tipsy, do take care to inform guests that alcohol is included in the dish.

the recipe is my own

serves 6-8


  • 1 – 12 oz package fresh or frozen whole cranberries
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • ½ cup IPA

  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat combine the water and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the cranberries and orange zest. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the berries burst and the sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the beer. 
  • Serve warm or chill until ready to serve.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dubbel Mashed Sweet Potatoes

On to the next Thanksgiving side!

Forget the marshmallows and pecans. Serve up these mashed sweet potatoes with a surprising twist! A Belgian dubbel's subtle spice and banana notes will sing when served alongside this dish. Again, I turned to Boom Island for their HooDoo Dubbel. Chimay Red, Ommegang Abbey, Goose Island's Pere Jacque and Rochefort 6 will work wonderfully in a pinch. Or omit the beer all together and stir in chicken or vegetable stock instead.

Recipe adapted from Rachel Ray

serves 8

• 3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
• 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
• 1 overripe banana, sliced
• 1 orange, zested and juiced
• 1 cup Belgian dubbel (or stock)
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
• Salt and pepper to taste


• Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with 1 to 2 inches of cold water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and cook potatoes until tender. Drain potatoes and set aside.
• Return the pot to the stove top over medium heat. Add butter and bananas to the pot. Cook bananas 5 minutes and add the juice of 1 orange to the pot, reserve the zest. Allow the juice to cook out, 1 minute.
• Add the potatoes to the pot along with the Hoodoo and brown sugar. Mash potatoes, banana, stock and sugar together until well combined. Season with nutmeg, salt, pepper and orange zest, to your taste.
• Mash to combine spices and serve