Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Figgy Yule Cookies

Figgy Yule Cookies paired with Yule, photo by Heather Hanson
photo by Heather Hanson

Now bring us some figgy pudding! In cookie form of course! To wrap up the holiday cookie pairings with Boom Island Brewing, I adapted this cookie to feature their holiday release, Yule. Yule is a Belgian Strong Ale, brewed with a different fruit addition each year. This year's fruit was black currant. Instead of featuring a currant studded treat, I opted for a classic Christmas dessert in cookie form. The figs are simmered in Yule for an extra kick and in is mixed into the icing in lieu of brandy.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Recipe adpated from Food 52

Yields about 4 dozen cookies

For the cookies
  • 8-10 large dried Turkish figs, diced
  • 1 cup Yule
  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks) softened
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest
For the icing
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Yule
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • In a small saucepan, simmer the figs and Yule until the figs are soft, about 15 minutes. Strain figs and set aside.
  • Mix together the flour, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Set aside
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg until well combined.
  • Slowly add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Fold in the strained figs and orange zest.
  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerate for 2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheets by lining in parchment paper.
  • On a well floured surface, roll out the dough about 1/8” thick. Cut into 2” rounds. Arrange on baking sheets about 1” apart.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown along the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • In a small saucepan over medium low heat, whisk together the powdered sugar, Yule, butter and vanilla extract. Simmer, stirring frequently, until smooth and well combined.
  • Drizzle icing onto cooled cookies
  • ENJOY!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Witbier Cookies

Witness Witbier Cookies paired with Witness Wit, photo by Heather Hanson
photo by Heather Hanson Photography LLC

If witbier were a cookie, this would be it. These are sure to add a bit of citrus-y joy to your holiday! 

The thing that surprised em the most when I tackled this recipe was the beer reduction. I've made reductions with stouts, porters and sours before. Bute never a wheat beer. And never reduced down so far. The resulting syrup was malty and sweet with just a hint of the orange and cardamom used in the beer. I'm tempted to reduce another batch to play around with. Ice cream toppings, a salmon glaze, or perhaps a dash in a cocktail or two?

 Recipe adapted from Food Republic 

Yields about 4 dozen cookies 

for the cookies
  • 2 – 12 oz bottles of Witbier
  • 5 Tbsp honey
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), softened
  • 1 ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
for the glaze
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest
  • 1 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Combine the beer and honey in a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan. Over medium heat, bring the beer to a gentle boil, skimming foam as needed. Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (this may take up to an hour). Allow to cool slightly.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheets by lining with parchment paper.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and well combine. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Add the coriander, orange zest and beer reduction, mixing until just combined.
  • Combine the flour and baking soda. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture.
  • Drop batter by heaping Tbsp onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • For the icing, whisk together the vanilla, zest, orange juice, cream and powdered sugar. Spoon a dollop onto each cookie and spread icing to the edges. Allow to set 15-20 minutes before serving.
  • ENJOY!

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!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Chocolate Lace Sandwich Cookies (Brussels)

Photo by Heather Hanson 

Beligan beers and chocolate are a favorite pairing of ours, especially a dubbel. When I came across this recipe, I was sure I had a treat on my hands. Do the cookies look familiar? They do bear a striking resemblance to a popular brand-name cookie named after the capital of Belgium. It seemed only fitting to pair them with a Belgian style beer!

These cookies are one of the more challenging ones I've made to date. The first batch turned out perfectly: an even golden brown, beautiful lacing, wonderfully crisp. Only they had melded into one large cookie. The second batch, I had halved the recipe, but forgot to halve the flour, resulting in a very different, albeit tasty, cookie. The third batch I rolled instead of dropped and as a result the cookies didn't spread as thin as they should have. The fourth batch burned. Once they start to caramalized, they brown quickly! The fifth batch finally yielded something close to the desired result, but nothing nearly as pretty as the ones at Two Peas. But they tasted wonderful.

So what did I learn?

3/4 tsp is really 3/4 tsp. Any larger you risk one giant cookie as they meld together.

Space them FAR apart. I ended up making 10 per sheet to give the cookies ample room to spread.

Drop the dough, don't roll it. Rolling compressed the batter and the cookies did not spread evenly thin. The edges burn before the center was done as a result.

Mix the sugars and butter well before adding the dry ingredients. The dough comes together very fast anyway, so not point in rushing by trying to throw everything into the same bowl as once. You'll achieve that wonderful brittle like texture if you dirty that extra bowl.

Parchment paper or silpats are a must.

Watch the cookies closely during the last 4-5 minutes of baking. Once they spread, they caramelize fast. Be prepared to yank them out the oven the moment they look uniformly golden.

And over course, enjoy! Even the accidents were incredibly tasty!

Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Yields 20 sandwich cookies

  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp baking powdered
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 oz dark chocolate, melted

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
  • Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Whisk together the butter, cream, corn syrup, and vanilla extract. Beat in the sugar until smooth.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour, oats, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Slowly mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combine.
  • Drop dough by the scant teaspoon onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 3 inches between cookies. They will spread a lot as they bake. 10-12 cookies per sheet is ideal.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, checking after the 6 minute mark. Remove them when they are a deep amber on the edges and golden brown in the center. The cookies will begin to brown very quickly once they spread.
  • Allow to cool slightly on the baking sheets and then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. They will crisp up as they cool.
  • Pair up cookies of similar size and shape. Spread one cookie with a thin layer of melted chocolate. Top with the second cookie, gently pressing together. Repeat with remaining pairs.

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.