Today I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes from my cookbook, Food on Tap: Cooking with Craft Beer! I’ve lost count of how many batches of these I have made. Flavored with holiday ale, they have spiced, citrus notes that I can’t get enough of. They make the perfect cut out cookies any time of year!
Over a month has passed since my cookbook published. It’s been a whirlwind of questions, answers, outreach, event organizing, and even a podcast interview (link coming soon)! It has all been amazing.
At the same time, it left me with two overwhelming feelings.
Gratitude and mental exhaustion.
I was not prepared to feel either of these to the extent that I have over these past few weeks.
Let me explain.
I try to always remain grateful – for the people around me, opportunities, and adventures. That being said, after fewer than three years living in the South Central Valley I have had more support for my book than I ever thought possible. Interviews, beautifully written articles, local events – it goes on and on. People have taken a chance on me and my work and chosen to support me in so many ways.
It was so completely unexpected. This doesn’t mean I thought that this level of support was uncommon here, but just that people would extend it to me – a newbie in the area who is just getting started at learning the local food scene.
Outside of this area, I’m getting all kinds of support around the web from friends, colleagues, and clients with recipes featured in mailings, on websites and blogs, in the magazines I have written for, and that podcast interview I mentioned.
Gratitude even seems too limited a word to express my appreciation.
The second overwhelming feeling was unexpected as well. Mental exhaustion. I thought I’d felt it before, but I was wrong.
I’ve always considered myself 50/50 when it comes to having introvert and extrovert qualities. I have an outgoing side, but that outgoing side is not a sales side. Calling and emailing to inquire about the placement of my book, events involving my book, and introducing myself in the representation of my book have taken me so far out of my comfort zone.
I learned pretty quickly that making the book was the fun part for me. Most people consider the cooking, testing, and photographing the work. But this, this marketing stuff is the work.
I love meeting people who are interested in my book, and talking beer and food, but I really hate waving my book in everyone’s face.
I’m very proud of it, don’t get me wrong, but this process has taught me that I am a behind the scenes person for sure.
That being said, I return to feelings of gratitude when people are so excited and accepting of me waving my book in their faces. You all have been pretty awesome about it.
We took a break to the coast over Thanksgiving where we did little but visit some local wine and beer spots and read with the ocean in view. At the end, I wondered why I felt so sad to leave. I mean, I love to travel, but usually after one trip, I’m already looking forward to the next.
Then it dawned on me. Four days and I didn’t have to talk about my book or my work ONCE.
Don’t take this the wrong way. Please inquire about my book! Haha! It just made me realize how tired I’d grown of talking about it! It was a much needed break.
Perhaps this all sounds like a bit of whining, but I try to remain straightforward here. It’s something to think about if you have a goal of publishing a book – and I know many of you do because you send questions my way and I love it!
All that being said, after that break, here we are entering the holiday season. It’s my very favorite time of year! And I continue to be thankful for everyone sharing about Food on Tap.
It made me realize that I haven’t done a whole lot of recipe sharing here on the blog.
One question I always get is about my favorite recipe. Everyone expects that it will be difficult for me to choose. Like I have 60 children tucked between the covers and I couldn’t possibly pick one.
Turns out I’m a bad book parent. I have favorites. These cookies included.
It took me a long while to tweak and develop a cut-out cookie recipe I love and a technique that would make those cookies stick to their shape when baked.
Then I decided to give them a beer twist for the book. I love concentrating beer down to a flavoring. You do have to be careful because some varieties will turn bitter, especially if they are super hoppy. Most holiday ales, though, turn out perfectly. They typically come in with International Bitterness Units of around 40 and they have spices like cinnamon and clove. Adding sugar to the mix calms bitterness. It doesn’t complete disappear, though, which is a good thing.
Once you reduce your beer, trust me, it’s not something you will want to take a swig of. It will taste bitter for sure. But once you mix it into the cookies with the flavors of citrus, it balances out and becomes a delicious flavoring, like a vanilla or almond extract.
I’ll tell you straight away that these cookies take a bit of time. They aren’t hard work, but they are best saved for a day of baking when you can work in other cookies and candies during the process because there is a bit of downtime.
First, making the reduction takes about 45 minutes. You don’t have to stay on top of the reduction every second (until it starts to thicken, then do!) but you do need to watch it, stir, and control the temperature so it stays at a simmer.
Once that is made the cookie dough needs to chill. Then once you cut out the cookies, freeze them on the cookie sheet for a few minutes. I have found it is an outstanding way to make the perfect cut-outs. I do it every time now.
Once baked you can leave them as they are as I often do. They are great cookies, just like that. Or you can fancy them up a bit with frosting and decorations. It’s totally up to you.
Holiday Cut Out Cookies with Spiced Ale
Makes 26 to 28 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutter
What you’ll need:
12 ounces holiday ale*
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon orange zest
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground black pepper
Pinch of ground clove
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
How to make them:
To make the reduction, stir together the beer and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium to maintain a heavy simmer to a very low boil. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the beer reduces to about 1½ ounces, 30 to 45 minutes. Watch the beer closely as it nears its full reduction as it can burn if not stirred often. Set aside to cool completely.
Stir together the flour, orange zest, salt, allspice, nutmeg, pepper, and clove in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Blend together the butter, ½ cup brown sugar, and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high until light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
Mix in the egg, and then the beer reduction and vanilla. The batter may look slightly lumpy. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients. Mix on medium until combined into a ball of dough.
Divide the dough into two equal balls and transfer each to a sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten into a disk and wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Roll out each disk on a floured surface to ½ inch thickness. Cut with desired shapes. Transfer the cookies to an ungreased baking sheet, at least 1 inch apart. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes. Form dough scraps back into one disk, refrigerate until you are ready to roll, cut, freeze, and bake.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the cookies for 14 minutes, until the edges are slightly browned. Remove from the oven. Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.
* Use a basic, non-barrel-aged holiday ale, winter warmer, or pumpkin spice ale around 40 IBUs.
If you are local to California’s South Central Valley, come out Thursday, November 30 from 5 to 9pm, to Pita Kabob in Downtown Visalia for a special Food on Tap event! I’d love to meet you. You can find the details on their Facebook event post.
For more events and recipes being shared around the web, be sure to check out my cookbook page here on the blog.