Friday, September 2, 2011

White Beer Cookies

Anyone who knows me can vouch for the fact that I love beer. I also love food, which is unsurprising, seeing that I write this blog, spend time writing local restaurant reviews (shameless plug: check us out at and am working on starting my own personal chef business. So when the opportunity comes up for me to combine two of my passions, I jump on it. 

These cookies are a perfect mash-up of food and beer. I got a message from my friend, Shelley, one night, saying that she was watching a cooking show and they were making beer cookies. I was intrigued. So I searched out a recipe and resolved to try them out. A couple of weeks later, I was looking for inspiration for my dish to pass at a birthday party for another beer fanatic friend. Beer cookies to the rescue!  I have no great love of baking, but the process for these cookies was relatively simple and I was pleased with how they turned out. Even better, they were a huge hit at the party. My only regret is that I didn't make more of them. The birthday gal's father even cracked a joke about whether or not I'd laced the cookies with some "herbal refreshment" because they were addictive! Rest assured, the only ingredients in the cookies are legal ones.

The rundown:
  • Flavor/texture: The cookies were more cake-y than crunchy, but they were very good. They were a bit like fancy sugar cookies, without being overly sweet. I loved how I could definitely taste the beer, but it didn't overpower the other ingredients.
  • Difficulty: Pretty easy and straightforward.  I was a little impatient while waiting for the beer to reduce. Taking two bottles down to 1/3 cup takes awhile.
  • Pros: It's an unusual twist for both beer and cookies. They turned out great and even friends who aren't beer-centric enjoyed them.
  • Cons: The recipe yields two dozen cookies, which isn't much. If you're making them for a group, I highly recommend making more than one batch. The recipe would not be well suited for just doubling up, since reducing four bottles of beer would take forever. Make separate batches instead.
  • Misc.: The one caveat about this recipe is that you must choose a white beer. Don't substitute for another style, or it won't work. I went with Bell's Brewery Winter White. In this method, the beer is brewed with coriander and orange. Those flavors are echoed in the dough and icing, which pulls everything together. Reducing the beer intensely concentrates the flavors. If you use something that is too dark or has heavy hops, it will turn into a bitter mess. Use orange blossom honey if you can. It's a great complement to the orange base in the beer and frosting. Also, I omitted the milk in the frosting and just used orange juice instead.
  • Repeat Performance: I can see myself making these for other special occasions.
White Beer Cookies
Food Network, Sean LaFond

2 bottles (12 oz. each) Belgian White style beer
5 tbsp honey
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
1/2 vanilla extract
1 large orange, zested
2 tbsp ground coriander
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp milk
1 orange (peel off strips of zest with a bar zester for garnish)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put the beer and honey to a medium saucepan and reduce over medium heat until you have about 1/3 cup of liquid. You may occasionally have to skim the foam off the top of the beer. You will know you have hit 1/3 of a cup of liquid as the liquid will suddenly begin to aggressively foam due to the high concentration of sugar (This looks different from foaming due to carbon dioxide, the bubbles are much larger with the sugar foaming). Let this reduction cool to room temperature.

In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and blend thoroughly. Then add the vanilla, orange zest, coriander and beer reduction and blend again. Mix the flour and baking soda together then slowly add to the batter. The batter will be somewhat more loose than regular cookie dough.
Scoop mounds of cookies onto an aluminum cookie sheet lined with parchment. Make sure you do not overcrowd the cookies; you should be able to fit about 12 cookies on a half sheet pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden.
Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet until they are cool enough (about 10 minutes) to transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Using the icing ingredients, whisk the vanilla into the sugar. Mix the orange juice and milk together. Add milk and orange juice mixture to the sugar, a little bit at a time, until you reach the consistency of a thick paste. Put a dollop of icing on each cool cookie and spread it over the top. Put a small piece of orange zest on the top, if desired. Let the icing harden to desired hardness and serve.

Bottoms up!