Oktoberfest: Sour Beers & Chocolate Cherry Lambic Cookies

Cream-Cheese Stuffed Chocolate Cherry Lambic Cookies

Baking with my favorite type of beer has resulted in my favorite Oktoberfest recipe thus far. I love lambics, and these chocolate cherry cookies baked with cherry lambic have made me quite happy. Oh, they are stuffed with sweet cream cheese too. Now that I have your attention…

I first encountered a lambic not in a bar but in an ice cream shop. Jeni’s Cherry Lambic Sorbet changed my world. Despite that, cherry happens to be my least favorite lambic (I prefer the peach or raspberry). The cherry taste is, in the words of my beer school classmates, slightly reminiscent of Robitussin. That said, I have never a bad experience when chocolate and cherries come together.

Cream-Cheese Stuffed Chocolate Cherry Lambic Cookies

I had a very difficult time selecting a recipe to make with this beer. My knee-jerk reaction was to make a sauce, so I vowed to stay away from that comfort zone. Chocolate-cherry anything just made sense, but I just was not feeling Cherry Lambic Browines, gorgeous as they are. A Kriek Cabbage recipe intrigued me, but I kept looking until I happened upon some cookies. Sold.

I used the recipe I found as a guide, halving ingredients, upping the amount of lambic and generally behaving like a cowboy in the kitchen. At one point I realized I added baking powder instead of baking soda. I went back and added the soda, made a little wish, and rather shockingly, all turned out well.

The dough is very sticky and must – allow me to repeat, must – be chilled to hold its shape in the oven. Because I was experimenting here, the recipe has a fairly small yield, though the cookies are very good sized. Their taste reminds me of Little Debbie Fudge Rounds. Did you ever eat those?

To get an idea on the best way to stuff the cookies, there are very nice pictures of Stuffed Snickerdoodles available for viewing at Cookies & Cups.

Cream Cheese Stuffed Chocolate Cherry Lambic Cookies

When I was in the store buying my bottled heaven, the girl who took my money remarked, “That’s a good choice.” She went on to tell me that she likes to pour an inch or two of cherry lambic in a glass, then top it off with a witte beer like Hoegaarden. For a different mixed drink that combines lambic with a fall-favorite – whiskey – try a Bloodied Belgian.

There are a number of sour beer varieties out there, though none ever caught my eye before beer school. Given I encountered my first sour while ordering ice cream, that should probably not come as a major surprise.

Cream-Cheese Stuffed Chocolate Cherry Lambic Cookies

There are Flanders’ red and brown ales. Lambics themselves are actually used to make other sours, like Gueuze. And faros are sweetened lambics. These beers are members of the larger Belgian beer family.

These beers have higher price points because they are costly too produce. I do not remember the specific details, but basically brewers start out with a lot of liquid that is reduced over the course of aging these beers. Since there is so much less at the end than what went in at the beginning, they cost a pretty penny when all is said and done.

There is also a lot of yeast (and maybe some magic) involved in making these beers. In different areas of Belgium, the wort is left out to combine with wild yeast cells in the air. This leads to spontaneous fermentation that is a hallmark of these beers.

To learn more about lambics, you can always visit Lindeman’s website. Though I can not tell you more (much?) about beer, I can tell you how to bake a good cookie. So with that, enjoy!

Cream-Cheese Stuffed Chocolate Cherry Lambic Cookies

 

 

 

 

Oktoberfest
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 9
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cherry lambic
  • ½ cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • For the Filling
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  2. Place the lambic and the dried cherries in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat once the liquid has been reduced to two tablespoons.
  4. While the liquid and cherries cool, cream the butter and sugar.
  5. Add the eggs and the vanilla and beat until smooth.
  6. Beat in the dry ingredients until just combined.
  7. Fold in the dried cherries, the two tablespoons of the reduced liquid and the mini chocolate chips.
  8. Refrigerate the dough overnight or place in the freezer until firm.
  9. While the cookie dough is chilling, prepare the filling.
  10. Beat the cream cheese, the sugar and the vanilla together until fully combined and slightly fluffy.
  11. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes before using to fill the cookies.
  12. When ready to bake, scoop one heaping tablespoon of cookie dough and gently press to flatten. Repeat this step to make an additional disc of dough.
  13. Place one teaspoon of filling onto one of the pieces of dough, then top with the other and pinch the edges together while gently forming into a ball.
  14. Return the formed cookies to the freezer for at least 15 minutes. They should be firm and no longer sticky before baking.
  15. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes. The edges of the cookies will appear lightly browned and the centers will be set.
  16. Place on wire rack to cool.
Notes
It is imperative to chill this dough in order for the cookies to hold their shape.
 

Oktoberfest: Beer Spiced Cupcakes with Sweet Honey Frosting

Sweet Honey Frosting

As Oktoberfest winds down and the baseball playoffs get ready to wind up, I am calling a seventh inning stretch. After looking at my beer topics compared to my beer recipes, I realized I could have skipped this one. So…I’ve got some pictures, some links and that’s about it for this one.

Sweet Honey Frosting

This recipe makes a lot of cake, as in over three  dozen standard-sized cupcakes. I baked small cupcakes, giant cupcakes and cupcakes that were just right. I sense the majority of them will take on new life as cake balls in the near future.

I used Abita’s Pecan Harvest Ale, but with all the spices, I think this cake would also taste great when made with a seasonal pumpkin ale. The Booze Cakes cookbook  lists a few variations as well. For a pound cake, simply omit the spices and use a favorite beer.

It’s nearing Halloween, so you can also make this a Devil’s Food cake. Again, omit the spices and 3/4 cup of flour (use three cups total). Then add in one cup of cocoa powder and one cup of chocolate chips. And of course the whole thing takes on a different taste when a stout is used as the beer.

Sweet Honey Frosting

In my last post, I shared a few Oktoberfest menu ideas. Bon appétit has more ideas listed here. Not into cupcakes as dessert? How does deep fried beer sound?

I created a beer + food board on Pinterest, though right now it is nearly as empty as this space. So tell me, what is your favorite dish to cook with beer?

Sweet Honey Frosting

Short and sweet, but not to worry, the sours are coming.

Beer Spiced Cupcakes with Sweet Honey Frosting
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • For the Cake
  • 3¾ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1¼ cup agave syrup*
  • 12 ounces (1 bottle) beer, warm temperature
  • For the Frosting
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • 3½ - 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • ½ cup beer
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey
  • Mixed nuts for garnish
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
  4. Pour in the agave syrup an continue to beat until fully mixed.
  5. Mix in the flour mixture and beer in three alternating additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
  6. Pour batter into a paper-lined cupcake pan or 9 x 13 greased pan.
  7. Bake at 325 degrees F for 20-25 minutes for cupcakes; 40-45 minutes for a rectangular cake. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean.
  8. While the cake cools, make the frosting.
  9. Cream the butter with one cup confectioners' sugar.
  10. Beat in the beer and the remaining sugar in alternating additions.
  11. When the frosting is light and flurry, stir in the honey.
  12. Frost the cake and top with nuts.
Notes
*Original recipe called for honey
 

Oktoberfest: Lagers, Ales & Huevos Rancheros

Beer Tortillas

Let’s welcome October and the second week of Oktoberfest with a chat about lagers and ales. When I hear the word lager, a light golden beer usually comes to mind. Likewise, I think of an ale as an amber or brown beer. But that does not have to be the case. The true difference between the two styles of beer is the yeast used in the brewing process. Because the grain is not the issue, someone could very well brew a lager or ale of any color.

The yeast used in the lagers requires colder temperatures to ferment than does the yeast used in ales. Lagers also age longer than ales, so their taste is much less robust than that of an ale. So lagers require cold temperatures and more time which result in a milder taste. Ales require warmer temperatures and less time which results in a heftier taste.

I am an expert in exactly zero things, so my goal here is not to pretend I can school you in these beers. I do however hope you now know enough to get a trivia question on the subject right. To watch an actual brewer speak on the subject of ales and lagers, just click here. If you would like to watch a little cartoon about how beer is made, click here.

Beer Tortillas

Since there two beer types discussed in this post, I decided to double up on the beer usage in this huevos rancheros recipe as well. The eggs soaked in a beer solution for a week, and the beer tortillas came from The Beeroness. For all the loveliest beer-meets-food recipes you could ever hope to imagine, you need to check out that blog!

I soaked the eggs for a full week in a solution of white ale, apple cider vinegar, and spices. They were tart! You can always soak them for less time to impart a milder taste. And if you want to keep the eggs as white as possible, use white vinegar. The point to using a white ale is to keep the eggs light, but since I didn’t have white vinegar when I felt like mixing the soaking solution up, I used apple cider vinegar.

Beer Tortillas

I can’t say enough about how good the beer tortillas tasted! I attribute this to the mixture of reserved bacon fat I added to the shortening as well as the beer. Unlike the first time I made homemade tortillas, this time things went a lot better. I was able to roll the dough out thin enough and cook it just long enough so the tortillas remained pliable instead of crisping up.

That said, I still ended up with some very goofy looking tortillas; it took me about half a dozen before I really got the hang of the rolling-cutting-cooking. To keep the tortillas as round as possible, try not to handle the dough but to lift it from the counter and into the skillet. And remember, there is no need to worry if your tortillas are not perfectly round. The goal here isn’t to impress the President, just to get dinner on the table.

Beer Tortillas

As I was assembling the huevos rancheros, I had the wonderful luck of having two separate friends ask if they could stop by. I encouraged their visits, luring in unsuspecting taste testers. My first reaction was, “Hmm, these are sweet.” Both of my friends said the same thing! The cherry salsa I used lent an unexpected sweetness that really countered the tartness of the eggs.

By no means do you need to use a fruit-based salsa for this recipe. It’s simply something to keep in mind. I should also point out huevos rancheros are typically made with eggs cooked over easy or sunny side up. If that is your preference, you can still use the beer tortillas. Or if you are simply interested in the hard boiled eggs, the cookbook they came from suggested serving them with a slice of cheese and tomato. I myself plan to use the remaining eggs in salads or egg salad.

Beer Tortillas

If you are looking to make a complete Oktoberfest dinner, Saveur has an entire menu from soup to dessert available here. Whole Foods also has a number of cooking with beer recipes available at this blog post.

As a reminder, I am basing the beers used in this series off of my experiences at Charlotte’s World of Beer. Any errors, omissions or out-right butcherings of the information our knowledgeable and patient teacher provided and I have re-shared are most definitely my own. Happy October, and happy Oktoberfest!

Huevos Rancheros with Beer Eggs & Beer Tortillas
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • For the Eggs
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • 2 cups pale ale
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 1½ tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon dill seed
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seed
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • For the Tortillas
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup fat (shortening, etc.)
  • ¾ cup beer, room temperature
  • For the Huevos Rancheros
  • Black Beans
  • Cumin
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Salsa
  • Sour Cream
  • Cilantro
Instructions
  1. To make the eggs, combine all ingredients except the eggs in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
  3. While the beer solution boils, place the peeled and hard-boiled eggs in a glass or plastic (not metal) container.
  4. Pour the hot liquid over the eggs until they are fully submerged.
  5. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate and allow to soak for three to seven days.
  6. To make the tortillas, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.
  7. Add the fat and use your hands to rub it into the flour until it is fully distributed and forms course crumbs.
  8. Slowly pour ¾ of a cup of beer into the flour mixture, mixing with a fork until all of the flour has been moistened. Add additional beer one tablespoon at a time if needed.
  9. Knead until the dough becomes shiny and slightly stiff, about 3-5 minutes. The dough should remain soft; do not overwork.
  10. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap, and allow to rest for 30-60 minutes.
  11. After resting, pull off pieces of the dough about the size of a golf ball.
  12. Form into balls, then roll out very thin on a lightly floured surface.
  13. One at a time, heat the tortillas in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat for about one minute per side. The tortillas should lightly brown, but do not overcook to a crisp.
  14. To assemble the huevos rancheros, mash two tablespoons of beans with a bit of their liquid (or broth) and a sprinkle of cumin.
  15. Spread over a tortilla, then top with cheese and a sliced beer egg.
  16. Place in the skillet, and when the cheese has melted, remove.
  17. Add more beans, salsa, sour cream, and cilantro as desired.
  18. Top with a second tortilla and enjoy.
Notes
For the eggs, I used Great Lakes' Holy Moses White Ale, and for the tortillas I used Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale.