A couple weeks ago I attended a “Blogtoberfest” meeting – the brainchild of the Orr Shtuhl, the Young and Hungry Beerspotter. The idea behind Blogtoberfest is to inspire DC bloggers – foodie and otherwise – to write about beer this October. Not just odes to craft brews — which is a little hard to do if, like me, you’re not a hard-core beer fanatic — but our personal stories about beer, food, and culture.
While I was certainly inspired to think about beer and culture (and will have an upcoming post on that subject), what I really pondered after that meeing is how I could bake with beer. What is the intersection between beer and pastry? Beer and dessert?
And with that, my October cooking/baking project was born – baking with beer.
This is actually a tricky little project, as this is new territory for me. I don’t know beer particularly well (besides my favorite brews), and I tend to stay to tried and true flavor combinations in my baking projects. There is, shall we say, an ample opportunity for grossness. But also, I think, for greatness. We shall see.
My first project uses Guinness, which is an easy one – there are recipes for Guinness cake all over the place. Buzz Bakery is celebrating Octoberfest with Guinness cupcakes, and the Internet Food Association featured a lovely Chocolate Stout Cake as one of their “food porn” photos. But I didn’t just want to make any old cake – that seemed too mundane. No. I wanted cookies. Specifically, I wanted to see if I could make my own boozy version of the handmade upscale Oreos that Tim Carman poo-pooed on the Young and Hungry blog.
Ever since I saw those cookies, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. Think of it – smoky chocolate cookies enclosing a layer of chocolate and Guinness buttercream frosting. It may be too “upscale” for some, but I think that’s a cookie experience worth pursuing.
After a great deal of searching, I finally found a chocolate shortbread cookie recipe from Smitten Kitchen, but left out an egg and substituted some Guinness. I made the filling through trial and error – I tried to adapt a Martha Stewart chocolate frosting recipe, but had much better luck going with my own instincts and coming up with my own recipe. Recipe testers – take note: make sure the Guinness is at room temperature before you add it to the frosting! Otherwise very bad things will happen. Very, very bad things.
In general, I was pretty pleased with these cookies. I’m not sure if the chocolate cookies really needed the Guinness flavoring – the flavor doesn’t come through very well in the final cookie and it ultimately seemed unnecessary. But I was very pleased with the chocolate filling – it has a nice smoky, chocolatey, sweet thing going on that I really liked. The Guinness really added something to the frosting, which I can’t say for the cookies.
Many thanks to the good people of the Adams Morgan Listserv, who took these off my hands. Bake sales might be banned in New York City, but it seems that baked goods are still very popular in the good old District of Columbia. People of Adams Morgan – you give me faith that there is still a place for baking in modern society.
Chocolate Guinness Oreos
Adapted from SmittenKitchen’s Brownie Roll Out Cookies
Makes approximately 16 2.5 inch sandwich cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
3 tbs Guinness (room temperature)
Preheat oven at 350°F. Sift together flour and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Whisk in salt and baking powder until evenly incorporated. Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat until incorporated. Add Guinness and beat until incorporated. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide into two pieces with a knife or bench scraper. Shape each mound of dough into a ball, flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least one hour.
Roll out one disk of cookie dough on floured counter until 1/4 inch thick. Cut into circles (mine are 2.5 inches in diameter), brushing off excess flour (although it will disappear when you bake the cookies, so don’t go crazy). Repeat the rolling/cutting process with second disk of dough. Bake cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8 to 11 minutes, until the edges are firm and the centers are slightly soft and puffed.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool. When completely cool, pipe a circle of chocolate Guinness frosting (recipe follows) into the center of half the cookies, leaving a 1/4 inch border (this ended up being between one to two tablespoons of frosting per cookie). Top each filled cookie with an unfilled cookie, and press down slightly – this will “flatten” the frosting and push it to the edges of the cookies. Serve at room temperature.
Chocolate Guinness Frosting Ingredients
1 and 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature*
1/4 cup Guinness, at room temperature*
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature*
Sift together powdered sugar and cocoa into a small bowl. Cream butter and Guinness until incorporated. Add powdered sugar/cocoa mix and beat on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add the chocolate and beat until smooth and creamy.
*I really cannot stress enough how important it is that butter, chocolate, and Guinness are at room temperature. In one of my “test” batches of frosting, the chocolate was still slightly warm and the Guinness was slightly cool, and when I added the Guinness to the frosting the chocolate “seized” and hardened into little grains. Needless to say, that batch ended up in the trash.