October Baking Project, Take One: Chocolate Guinness Oreos

by moderndomestic on October 14, 2009

Guinness Oreos 1

These were meant to be.

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.

Guinness Oreos 3

Lovely.

Chocolate Guinness Oreos
Adapted from SmittenKitchen’s Brownie Roll Out Cookies
Makes approximately 16 2.5 inch sandwich cookies

Cookie Ingredients
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.

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Strawberry and Peach Lambic Sorbet « ModernDomestic
October 19, 2009 at 6:58 am
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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Alice October 14, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Next time, instead of giving them away, can you just ship a couple to Rochester? I’ll pay for postage. K thnx.

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Colin October 14, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Thanks for the delicious cookies last night, J! Awesome with some milk! Probably even better with a Guinness…

If you make these again, you might want to experiment with some of the other great stouts out there – Young’s Double Chocolate Stout is super rich; Brooklyn Chocolate Stout has a nice spice to it; and Founder’s Breakfast Stout has coffee as well as chocolate.

Of course, the Guinness were pretty fantastic as they were, so maybe you shouldn’t mess with what’s workin’…

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moderndomestic October 14, 2009 at 10:40 pm

Those are great suggestions – I’ve been thinking about how to use chocolate stouts in this month’s project. And I LOVE the idea of a coffee/chocolate stout. Hmmm . . . ice cream or mousse may be in order.

Thank you for taking the cookies! Glad you liked them.

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Jess F October 14, 2009 at 12:27 pm

I’m fascinated.

I’d like to suggest using some fruit lambics for sorbets, tarts, icing (?), etc. A good lambic is sour and of varying levels of carbonation, but the others are more like fruit juice. I do not know much about baking and how the various liquids interact with the pastry, but I do know beer.

When I was working at the beer bar, we did a chocolate mousse with a stout (I want to say it was Brooklyn’s) and I recall an attempt at creme brulee with the same that was tasty, but more of a pudding ultimately. I unfortunately, do not know the intricacies behind making these items, as I was merely the benevolent taster.

Also, I agree with the above commentator regarding the selection of the brew. Like wine in cooking (and all cooking) it really is a question of what kind of quality ingredient you use. Using a Young’s Double Chocolate Stout would truly been something to behold. I’m willing to be a taste-tester!

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moderndomestic October 14, 2009 at 10:43 pm

Hah! You certainly know beer. The lambic idea is a good one – especially as a sorbet. Now, the only lambic I’ve ever had is Lindemans – is that any good? Any other suggestions?

I love the stout/mousse idea. Love it. I will have to ponder . . .

You can totally taste test. Maybe I’ll see if I can put an actual taste test together . . .

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Toby October 14, 2009 at 3:46 pm

This recipe actually looks like it would make a fairly tasty Guinness cookie. I have a suggestion, though: boil the beer down to concentrate the flavor. I’m an ice cream maker, and I recently made a batch of coffee stout ice cream for a local, family owned super market. We used a coffee flavored stout made by Southern Tier Brewing Co., and I reduced it down by about 1/2, which I think helped quite a bit to concentrate the flavor and punch it up in the ice cream. The supermarket and their customers loved it and they’re now selling coffee stout ice cream in pints.

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moderndomestic October 14, 2009 at 10:45 pm

Hey Toby – that’s a great idea! I actually thought about boiling down the beer, but I didn’t see that technique in the recipes I researched, and I was afraid that it would change the flavor of the beer (and make it “gross”). But that is good to know that it can be done! Thank you!

Everyone has such fabulous suggestions . . .

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Phil October 14, 2009 at 4:38 pm

NOOOOO…I’m visiting Elena this weekend in DC and may have to consider not coming now since all these cookies are gone. I guess if I had asked her to get one for me, it would have been eaten before Friday anyway. Seriously, this is one of the best-looking blog recipes, scratch that, recipes in general I have come across lately. Take that Christopher Kimball and your pompous Times op-ed!

One beer dessert that I have wanted to try is a beer float made with ice cream and Lindemans. I need to get around to making one with vanilla ice cream and Framboise one of these days.

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moderndomestic October 14, 2009 at 10:50 pm

I really didn’t like that op-ed. I mean, I know where he’s coming from, and I know it must be incredibly sad to see his industry crumble before his very eyes – but really. Just as long as bloggers are honest about their credentials, sources, and relationships with advertisers, then how can you criticize their recipes? If a blog really isn’t good, it doesn’t get traffic – like, the good blogs DO have good recipes. Smitten Kitchen is seriously awesome.

I’m so glad you like recipe and the (look of) the cookies! I will definitely be making some beer desserts this weekend, so maybe you can try those instead (whatever they may be)?

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Nonna Gorilovskaya October 14, 2009 at 9:16 pm

They look beautiful. I would have trouble not drinking the key ingredient before baking…

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moderndomestic October 14, 2009 at 10:51 pm

There was definitely some of that going on. In fact, I have four extra Guinnesses (Guinni?) sitting in my fridge that will have to be consumed at some point. By some brave, brave soul . . .

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Maggie October 15, 2009 at 10:15 am

Hi!

I want to make these for my anniversary on Saturday — and was hoping to make them ahead. I was wondering if you think making them a few days okay will be good or if I could make one step ahead (like the filling!).

Thanks!

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moderndomestic October 15, 2009 at 10:30 am

Hi Maggie,

That is awesome! I think making the cookies and filling a couple days in advance would be fine – but I would assemble them on Saturday. I’d store in the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature between sheets of wax or parchment paper, and I’d store the frosting in an airtight tupperware container in the fridge. Re-beat the frosting in your mixer to bring it room temperature, until it’s the right consistency for piping.

Good luck! Let me know how they turn out!

-Jenna

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Bonnie October 15, 2009 at 12:22 pm

I’ve always thought Christopher Kimball was a bit of a twit! I’ve watched his PBS show through the years and enjoy all the other people representing Cooks Illustrated but not him.

Great to see all the blog activity this one has generated and hear comments from all these beer/food people.

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