This is why you don’t try to do things halfway. And by “you” I mean me, I’m talking to myself again. It happens, look away if you must.
On my way to dinner at a lovely couple’s house, I decided to make kill two birds (not literally, I swear) and bake a dessert for these two wonderful men, one that I could also photograph and give to you (work bird, dinner party bird: both dead). It was a great plan until I decided that I didn’t REALLY need to cut into it to photograph it. You were just going to have to trust me about all those gorgeous apple layers.
The thing is, these are two guys that aren’t just amazing humans they are also fantastic cooks and cocktail makers, people who have outstanding and beautiful taste. I didn’t want to do what I normally do, which is cut up the thing, take pictures of the thing, put back together the thing, and then apologize for the thing once I arrived. So I was just going to take photos of the OUTSIDE of the cake, and bring it intact.
Which worked long enough to get myself out the door and over to dinner to enjoy beautiful cocktails and dinner as well as an intact dessert. Until I got home and realized that I can’t do that to you.
It also needs to be mentioned that this is 100% about my own neurosis, the lovely friends in question would have found a previously detached, photographed and reattached dessert adorable and charming and encouraged me to do this had I asked.
So I made it again, just so that I could cut it open and show you these layers. Then I ate it. Maybe that was my subconscious plan all along, I do things like that.
Peel and core the apples. Slice very thinly, set aside.
In a large bowl stir together the eggs, sugar, beer, butter, flour and salt.
Add the apples, toss to coat.
Line a large (10 x 5) loaf pan, or an 8x8 square pan with parchment, spray with cooking spray.
Add the apple mixture to a the prepared pan.
Bake for 60 minutes or until the cake as set. Allow to cool, remove from pan. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Add the brown sugar, butter and beer to a saucepan over high heat. Boil for two minutes, remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla and heavy cream, return to heat and bring to a boil again. Boil for one minute, remove from heat, allow to cool.
Easy Chocolate Beer Pretzel Truffles, 4 ingredients, and just a few steps!
I have a problem, the sort that will probably be solved with beer-infused chocolate, as most minor problems usually are. My problem (one of many, I’m sure you already know) is that I almost always assume that people—upon first meeting me—don’t like me. For one reason or another, this is what I default to: “I don’t think she likes me. Sure, she’s being nice, but that’s just because she’s a nice person.” This does not, however, stop me from being chattier than said new person would probably like.
I know, it’s ridiculously insecure and eye-rolly. I know this. But it’s my default mode, thinking I have to earn it, like most things I have in my life. Then I do things like make chocolate truffles and bacon cupcakes and give them away hoping to earn peoples likes. Also: don’t do that. I don’t recommend it. But I’m far better at giving advice than I am at taking it. I’m an excellent advice giver, just ask. I’ll kick some wisdom at you.
I don’t take the advice, I just give it away. Unless that advice is about what beer to cook with or how to infuse chocolate with booze, those nuggets of wisdom I keep close. Also, if you want advice about what beer to pair with your dinner, or what city to visit on a whim, I’m your girl. How to navigate the intricacies of unknown humans? Maybe ask someone else. I’ll just be over here with these truffles trying to make friends with the new UPS guys.
When you count the seasons by what’s available in the bottle shops, you see the months pass in a different way. Right now we’re just leaving Fresh Hop Season and moving into Barrel Aged Beer season, one of the best beer seasons of the year.
It’s also the time of year when beer releases hit a fevered pitch and people wait in line for hours hoping to score a bottle or two of a beer that’s been aging in a wooden barrel that formerly housed liquor. It’s worth it, even if just for the bragging rights and the perfect cellarable beer. Beers that you always want two of, one for now and one to save for later. Stored properly they can be even better years later.
Bourbon County is the Godfather of the bourbon barrel aged beer. Goose Island is widely credited as being the first people to take a discarded bourbon barrel, load it up with stout, store it for nearly a year and then drink it just to see what would happen. This, more than anything, is a commentary on the heart of true brewer. Curious, courageously experimental, and unafraid to think outside the bottle.
It was a move that would have cultural repercussions beyond their wildest dreams. Starting a movement so strong and widely adopted it caused spent liquor barrels to go from a nuisance that distilleries had to deal with to a sought-after commodity that caused a shortage.
The face of beer is undeniably altered for the better because of the curiosity that caused Greg Hall to fill 6 bourbon barrels with stout in the early 1990s. In the name of that experimentation and curiosity, I decided that I’d like to figure out what would happen if you put a beer — one that had spent time cohabitating in a wooden barrel with the remnants of bourbon — into a marshmallow. Turns out, it’s pretty fantastic.
½ cup barrel aged beer, such as Bourbon County (flat and cold)*
½ cup water (or beer)
2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Grease a 9x13 baking pan, sprinkle with powdered sugar until well coated, set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer add ½ cup cold, flat beer. Sprinkle with gelatin. Allow to stand while the sugar is being prepared.
In a large saucepan (mixture will bubble up) over medium heat, add the water, 2 cups sugar and corn syrup. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Raise heat to high and allow to boil until the mixture reads 240F on a candy thermometer (about 6-8 minutes).
Once the temperature has been reached, turn off heat.
Turn the mixer on low and slowly pour the hot sugar mixture into the gelatin. Once all the sugar has been added turn the mixer on high until light and fluffy and tripled in volume, this can take up to 10 minutes.
While the mixer is running, prepare the egg whites. Add the egg whites to a bowl with the salt. Beat on high with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beat until stiff peaks return.
Gently fold the egg whites and vanilla extract into the stand mixer ingredients until just combined.
Pour the marshmallows into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Allow to set at room temperature until set, about 2 hours. Remove from pan, cut into squares. Toss with additional powdered sugar to prevent from sticking together.
*Open the beer at least two hours before you plan to make the marshmallows, and up to several days in advance. Pour ½ cup into an open container. Loosely cover and refrigerate. Enjoy the reaming beer, since you HAD to open the beer it’s your job to finish the rest.
This is ridiculous. I know what you’re thinking: why can’t you just make fudge like a normal person? But I found this silicon Darth Vader mold from that time I made Star Wars cupcakes and you can’t honestly think that I could just put it away and forget about it? Of course not.
And since we’re just entering Barrel-Aged-Beer-Season, as well as Fudge-Making -Season, it just makes sense. If you don’t have a Darth Vader silicon mold (but really, why not? You totally should) you can use any silicone mold. Because fudge is great, but it’s not as fun as Dark Side Fudge, right?
Plus, there’s beer in there. And since Barrel Aged beers come in large bottles and I’m only asking you to pour out 1/4 cup for the homies, I mean for the fudge, then you get to drink the rest. Have I talked you into this yet? Do I need to hone my Jedi Mind Trick skills? How about you make some fudge and we can talk about it.
I’m here to change your mind, to flip your vote. I know, I know, eggnog is gross, right? Yeah, I thought so too. Then I realized that it’s not. It’s actually quite amazing, it’s basically boozy, drinkable ice cream. IF you make it right.
Most importantly: back off the nutmeg. Because the difference between a teaspoon of “fresh grated nutmeg,” with its big, fluffy, air-filled piles, it’s about one quarter the amount you’d use if you just scoop it out of the McCormick bottle (jar? tin? container? What the heck do you call those things, anyway?)
Tl;DR: if a recipe calls for “fresh grated nutmeg” and you pssshhh all over that because you just want to scoop it out of the pre-ground tub (is that the word?), use 1/4 of what it calls for or you’ll wreck your dish.
Now that we’ve discovered why you didn’t like that one batch of nutmeg juice your aunt used to make, we can all agree that eggnog is amazing. Oh, and so is ice cream, and beer, obviously.
What beer should you use? Great question! I’m so glad you asked, let’s talk about that. Malty. Always a malty beer (back away from the IPA’s). I’ve done this a few times, this beer-ed up nog situation (I know, you’re shocked by this news, I’ll give you a second to recover).
Here are the undisputed reigning champs of beer-nog: Winter Ales (as long as it isn’t one of those winter IPAs), and Barleywines. Both are heavy on the malt, and full of those clove, cinnamon, spice notes that go so well in our boozy ice cream.
Sure, you can use a pre-made version. Or a leftover eggnog from your last nog endeavor. For an ice cream base, it’s completely fine. Want my scratch beer-nog recipe? Here it is: Pub Nog.
Just use a beer you love, a beer with high ABV and tons of malt. You’ll love it.
3 cups (730g) prepared eggnog (homemade or store bought)
1 cup (240g) heavy cream
½ cup (100g) brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup (6oz) winter ale beer or Barleywine
Stir together all ingredients.
Churn in ice cream maker according to manufactures specifications until it reaches a soft serve consistency. This can take up to 20 minutes; the ice cream base should more than double in size (of all the ice cream recipes I make, this one takes the longest to reach this stage. Just keep allowing the ice cream to churn until it’s more than doubled in size).
Place in an airtight container, freeze until set, about 3 hours.
Wild Ale Salted Caramel Squares. 15-minutes and these are good to go!
This is what happens when I decide to give up sugar for a while.
I’m completely committed to the idea, and then I decide what I really need to do is make a whole batch of beer-infused caramels because that makes sense RIGHT after Halloween, obviously.
But then I decide to give them away (you know, because no one I know has WAY too much candy already), but before I do I need to eat some to figure out if they’re good or not. Then I eat more, you know, just to be sure. Which is a total lie because I like lying to myself about sugar consumption on a regular basis. I always get away with it, I’m an excellent self-liar. Although I’m terrible at lying to humans who aren’t me, I’m way too transparent.
Try it, ask me to lie to you about something I really want to lie to you about and you’ll be able to see right through me. No, I don’t like those shoes but I like you and I don’t want to hurt your feelings. No, I wasn’t ignoring your text, I just, ummm, there was… a bear in my yard?….and he was thirsty….
That’s how you know this is actually a really excellent use of 15 minutes, and completely delicious: I can’t lie to you. They’re also a great way to make holiday gifts and pretend like the batch only made 30 and not 60 because you would never just sit in your kitchen eating 30 caramels by yourself. It was that bear in your yard, he was also hungry…
Ridiculously Good Stout Vegan Brownies (with no weird ingredients), just some things you probably already have in your pantry. And these brownies are legit!
It’s not so much that flax-eggs are wierd. Or guar gum. Or agar agar. It’s not the “weirdness” of the ingredients I kept seeing in vegan brownie recipes, but rather the fact that I don’t own them. And outside of an online shopping trip, I have no idea where to procure such things in my neighborhood. I’m more of a vegan food enthusiast rather than an actual vegan.
What I really needed was a brownie recipe using just what I had in my pantry, because there is a good chance you’ll also have the same things in your pantry. They also needed to be actual brownies, not shiny-top cake squares (an issue with some recipes that don’t include eggs and butter).
I have a few rules and requirements when it comes to brownies: the absolute necessity of the crunchy top, they need to be chewy, and only psychopaths put nuts in a brownie. I like a fudgy, dense, chocolatey, chewy, crispy top brownie.
I tested the recipe over and over, making minor tweaks to fix the things I didn’t love, until it came out exactly the way I like my vegan food: shockingly vegan. As in, “serve it to meat eaters and astound them”. Or “Bring them to a dinner party and people ask for the recipe because they have no idea what it does not contain.”
It’s also a great recipe for those of us who always want to bake right before we realize that we are out of everything and don’t want to go to the store.
Want to check and see if your beer is vegan? Branivore can help.
I’ve been chasing the light around my new house for the past three months. I haven’t found it, not in any real way. It’s an occupational hazard, really.
Every time I move, I have to find it. I have to find that place in my house where I can set up shop and shoot what I need to photograph. I’m not an artificial light girl, possibly because I can’t really wrap my brain around the nuances of that medium. So I chase the sunlight, hoping each new spot, new time of day, new month of the year, will be when I find it.
I’ve lived in 5 houses since I started this journey with the very strange objective of getting paid for cooking with beer and taking pictures of it. I’ve always found the spot—where the light is just right—in every house that has served as my work-from-home office. The kitchen, the garage, behind the couch in my living room, the bedroom. You never really know where it’ll be.
Every house I move into, I have an idea of where I WANT to shoot, where I want to set up and settle in and start photographing. But the light, just like the rest of this world, doesn’t really bend to your whims the way you want it to.
Today, on round three of testing this recipe, I settled into a new location. Maybe because I shot this photograph there and decided I loved it. Maybe because it was easier to sit down in this spot and polish off a few of these before I cleaned up. Either way, I might just stay a while and see if the light will cooperate if I keep baking things covered in salted caramel frosting.
IPA Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Beer Candied Pecans
I know, I get it. You’re already sick of pumpkin things and the season hardly started. I hear you, for me fall is all about hops. Spending last week running around the hop fields of Yakima, my love for hops has never been stronger (I’ll tell you all about that trip soon).
But it occurred to me, as I’m pints deep in hops, that although pumpkin isn’t the reason for the season when it comes to a true craft beer devotee, it’s a flavor that goes remarkably well with hops.
I’ve spent years meh-ing pumpkin beers when really I’m just averse to a boring, overly malted pumpkin ale. Once you brighten it up with hops, clean malts, bright flavors and minus the hell out of the overly cinnamon spice mixtures, you can get yourself a really lovely beer.
I understand if you want to walk out the fall squash door and never look back, but maybe you just want a brighter, cleaner beer. Pumpkin or not, this IPA Pumpkin Cheesecake Bar recipe is great to try your hand at baking with an IPA, a feat much more difficult than it appears. Hops are fussy and aggressive and can be a bit too much at times. But the sugar and dairy give them a nice balance, this is a recipe that can take a punch.
IPA Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Beer Candied Pecans
Yield: 24 squares
For the beer candied pecans:
1/2 cup Stone Vengeful Spirit IPA
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups pecan pieces
For the cheesecake:
9 standard sized graham crackers
2 tablespoon brown sugar
4 tablespoon melted butter
¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
16 oz cream cheese (softened)
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (15oz) can pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Stone Vengeful Spirit IPA
1/4 cup flour
Make the pecans:
Preheat oven to 250F.
In a large pot (it will bubble up furiously) over high heat add the beer and brown sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Clip a candy thermometer on the side of the pan. Bring liquid to 235F degrees, remove from heat.
Add the butter, stir until combined.
Add ½ teaspoon salt and pecans; stir until the pecans have all been coated.
Pour pecans on to a baking sheet that has been covered with a silicon baking mat (or parchment paper that has been sprayed with cooking spray).
Spread pecans evenly over the sheet.
Bake at 250F for 15 minutes, stir and bake for an additional 15 minutes (if the pecans look foamy, stir until the bubbles have dissolved) remove from oven and sprinkle with the remaining salt.
Allow to cool to room temperature, break apart. (Can be made up to 4 days in advance, store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place).
Make the cheesecake:
Lower the oven temp to 300F
In a food processor add the graham crackers and brown sugar, process until only crumbs are left. While the food processor is still running, add the melted butter and process until it resembles wet sand.
Line a 9X13 pan with parchment paper making sure the parchment comes up and over the sides of the pan. Press crust into the bottom until well compacted.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the brown sugar, white sugar and cream cheese. Mix until well combined. One at a time, add the eggs and vanilla, mixing until well combined, scraping the bottom, before adding more.
Add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon nutmeg and salt, mix until very well combined.
Add the beer and stir until combined.
Sprinkle the flour over the bowl, stir on medium speed until just combined.
Pour over the crust.
Bake at 300F for about one hour or until the center no longer sloshes when gently shaken but just slightly jiggles (The secret to a great cheesecake is not to over bake it, it's better to slightly under bake it for a smooth mousse like texture).
Chill until set, about 3 hours.
Remove from pan using the parchment paper. Cut into squares, top with pecans.
One Bowl Chocolate Chip Beer Bread, in your oven in five minutes, in your face in one hour!
Fall baking isn’t as much about the food as it is about the fact that we can turn the oven on again. Just days ago, it seems, we were all googling “no-cook dinners” and hoping the triple-digit heat would pass soon.
Then, as if overnight, the weather calmed, we awoke to rain on a garden that still held the last gasps of summer produce, and we’re again free to wear sweaters and pull on the wellies.
Let us bake again, slow down for a second as out lives orient to the pulse of this part of the year. Just slow down, take a day away from the obligation we force on ourselves and just be.
Just a reminder that the world will still be there when you rejoin, that it’ll be fine without you for a bit, and making something just because you want to has a way of healing the chips that the daily grind works into your soul.
A day in the kitchen, an audiobook and the smell of things baking in the oven has a way of calming a storm inside us, bringing calmer waters and even has the added bonus of warm baked goods to give as a peace offering to those in our lives that love us even when we’re difficult.
Blackberry Sweet Rolls with Beer Dough, like cinnamon rolls just WAY better.
It finally happened. Out of nowhere, and without my consent. I’m not even sure when it started, really. But now, it’s official.
I’m a Pacific Northwesterner, authentic and legitimized and I was finally given proof. I am, after all, a California girl born and raised. Heat seeking, lizard-on-a-rock always looking for a terrarium to spend time in. Summer was always my favorite season, and I need sunshine like I need air. But then, it happened.
After weeks of near triple-digit heat squeezing the breath out of Seattle area, I woke to a light rain, air sweet and soft, and a dew covered garden. “Thank God,” I thought, “It finally rained,” and there it was. A delicate summer rain was welcomed into my life like aloe on a sunburn.
I’m a Pacific Northwesterner. I even found myself aching for the fall, the sweaters, the smell of a fireplace, the color of the leaves as they say goodbye like the finale of a fireworks show.
I won’t be drinking any pumpkin spice lattes any time soon, so don’t get any ideas. I will, however, be picking as many blackberries as I can before they leave for the year. Freezing the excess for winter baking, and take full advantage of these charming weeds that overtake the Seattle area side roads and unkempt lots.
Just about 20-minutes of picking yielded 4 pounds of fruit, so obviously I needed to spend Sunday afternoon baking some Blackberry Sweet Rolls, and settling into the idea that for the first time in my life I’m not really sad to see the summer come to an end.
Chocolate Stout Cake with Cherries: Fudgy and Flourless!
Chocolate stout cake is the perfect way to get back into your life after getting lost in writing a book. It’s like asking for forgiveness for your comprehensive neglect without actually apologizing for fear of reminding everyone how absent you’ve been as you waded through 30,000 words.
It’s also a reminder that flour is unnecessary in chocolate cake, it’s so much better without. So rich, dense and delicious it doesn’t even need frosting. As if the cake is above frosting, outgrown the need for it.
I would never dissuade you from a frosting related endeavor, live your truth. But if I WAS to frost this magical chocolatey beerified treat, it would be with something just as profanely mature, and wide-eye inducing.
I’ll give you some examples, just in case you are, in fact, contemplating topping this cake with something: salted caramel whipped cream, espresso ganache, bourbon mascarpone frosting.
Or, just get a pint of ice cream (salted caramel? espresso rum? horchata?) and make it a ridiculous sundae. Just make sure to serve it with a stout.
Chocolate Stout Cake with Cherries: Fudgy and Flourless!
Yield: 6-8 servings
6 oz dark chocolate (60%), chopped
1/3 (3oz) cup stout
½ cup (114g) butter, chopped
1 ¼ (250g) cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons (45g) vegetable oil
¾ cup (88g) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon (6g) salt
2 tablespoons (16g) cornstarch
1 cup (160g) pitted dark cherries
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In the top of a double boiler over a simmering water add the chocolate, beer and the butter. Stir until the butter is almost melted, turn off heat and continue to stir until butter is melted, remove from heat.
In a mixing bowl whisk together the sugar and eggs until well combined. Stir in the oil. Sprinkle with cocoa powder, salt and cornstarch, whisk until well combined.
Stir in the chocolate and the cherries until combined.
Place a round of parchment paper inside a 10-inch spring form pan, rub the inside of the pan and the parchment paper with butter.
Pour the batter inside the prepared pan in an even layer.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top is puffed and no longer looks wet, don’t over bake of cake will be dry. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 10-20 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate.
Jalapeno Beer Caramel sauce is something you could easily side-eye. I get that. What do you even do with it?! Don’t you worry, I’ve got that covered.
Not only am I hooking you up with a super easy caramel sauce recipe, I’ve also got some really easy ideas of how you’re just dying to use it (you are, trust me).
First: Grilled Pineapple with Jalapeno Beer Caramel Sauce. Didn’t I tell you? You just oohhh-ed to yourself thinking about it. But I have some more, I’ve thought about this for a bit.
Chicken and Waffles with Jalapeno Beer Caramel Sauce
Vanilla Ice Cream with Jalapeno Beer Caramel Sauce
Mini Doughnuts with Jalapeno Beer Caramel Dipping Sauce (right?!)
Sour Apples with Jalapeno Beer Caramel Dipping Sauce
You see what I’m saying? I know that at first sight it might not seem like something you’d want to make due to lack of possible uses, but there you go. Now you not only have a recipe for a quick and memorable caramel sauce, you also have recipe ideas as well as a great reason to open a beer.
Drunk Diablo: Chocolate Stout Devils Food Cake with Mexican Hot Chocolate Frosting
When you have a weird job, there are two categories of projects you work on. The first types are the reasons you got into this in the first place. The love projects. The creative soul projects. The goosebumps and fevered excitement projects.
Those are the ones that keep you going. The second type, are the ones that pay the bills. The ones that you still like, the ones you’re grateful for, the ones that you still throw your heart and gypsy soul into, but in your heart of hearts, you know you’re only doing them because you like electricity and groceries and being able to pay those bills affords you such luxuries.
If you’re lucky, there is a huge Venn diagram overlap between the two. Most of what you do is —to one degree or another— both. I very rarely do projects that are just to pay the bills, but I very frequently find myself immersed in a passion project that will probably never result in any type of bill-paying.
I’m ok with this, it’s how I know I’ve chased my career down the right rabbit holes.
Right now I’m trying to turn my number one passion project into something that’s more in the center of that diagram. It’s a website I started about a year ago, a project I’ve been trying to move forward and I’m really in love with it.
It’s Craft Beer Photography, it’s stock photos, it’s prints, it’s “please hire me to photograph your brewery because that sounds really fun and I want to do it.”
It’s also one of my favorite parts of this weird job I’m trying to invent for myself. Because no one has ever really done this and I’m still trying to figure out what it looks like.
For now, let’s eat some cake and drink some beer and figure the rest out later.
Drunk Diablo: Chocolate Stout Devils Food Cake with Mexican Hot Chocolate Frosting
Yield: 10-12 servings
3 ounces bitter sweet chocolate
½ cups (4oz) hot brewed coffee
1 cup (8oz) stout beer
3 large eggs
2 ½ cups (375g) sugar
¾ cup (180mL) vegetable oil
1 ½ cups (360mL) sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ½ cups (300g) all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cups (168g) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons (10g) baking soda
1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
1 teaspoons (6g) salt
For the frosting:
1 ½ cup (342g) butter, softened
2 cups (386g) vegetable shortening*
¼ cup (24g) cocoa powder
3 cups (390g) powdered sugar (plus additional to taste)
¼ teaspoon (0.5g) cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon (4g) cinnamon
½ teaspoon (2g) chili powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the ganache:
10 wt oz dark chocolate (60% cacao)
¾ cup (180mL)heavy cream
¼ cup (60mL) stout beer
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Add the chocolate, coffee and beer to a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, stir and repeat until melted (this can also be done in a double boiler).
Add the eggs and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer, beat on high until light in color and well combined. Add the vegetable oil, sour cream and vanilla, beat until well combined. Mix in the chocolate mixture.
In a separate bowl stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients, stir until just combined.
Divide evenly between three 9-inch cake pans that have been greased and floured.
Bake for 35 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched.
Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer, beat on high until light and fluffy. Add the shortening, beat until well combined. Add the remaining frosting ingredients, beating until well combined. Frost the cake, with frosting between all the layers. Refrigerate while you prepare the ganache.
Add all the ganache ingredients to the top of a double boiler set over simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is almost all melted. Remove from heat and continue to stir until the chocolate is completely melted.
Pour the ganache over the cake, spread in an even layer, or allow to drip down the sides.
*Just use the shortening. It’s a texture thing, and it’s totally worth getting over the fact that shortening skeeves you out. It makes the most amazing frosting, trust me, just do it!
Stouts and Scouts: No-Churn Thin Mint Beer Ice Cream. Ten-minute prep!
This is my exception. Really, the only one. I have an aversion to mint that started in a cave in Middle Atlas the day before I almost died in Morocco.
But the thing is, if you are ever in a cave in Middle Atlas and a very nice cave dweller offers to make you tea, YOU DRINK IT! Even if the water is so dirty it looks like mud. Even if the glasses are a little cracked and leaky. Even if you’re fairly certain you’ll end up with dysentery.
Even if your guide through Middle Atlas turns out to be a drug dealer. That last part really had nothing to do with the tea other than it magnified an already strange experience.
After that day, mint was never the same. I wouldn’t take it back if you paid me, it was an amazing (although slightly terrifying at times) experience that happened to change the way I respond to the flavor of mint.
Thin Mints are the exception. Maybe it’s because they taste nothing like the mint leaves that had been muddled into my glass that day.
Or maybe it’s because they remind me of being a kid. Or maybe it’s because I’m such a sucker for those little cracker dealers outside the grocery stores that I can’t help but buy them every time. And since the appropriate place to store your crack, I mean Thin Mints, is in the freezer, making ice cream just made sense.
And if there is a better cookie and beer pairing than Thin Mints and an Imperial Stout I can’t think of it at the moment.
Individual Stout Mousse Cakes with Flambé Bourbon Beer Cherries
This is for you. Or really, it’s for us. Because I decided a long time ago to redefine Valentine’s day to be about more than just romantic love (although I pretty much covered romantic love that time I wrote about blowjobs).
Valentines is about the people you love, all of them. Even the ones who never see you naked. Especially the ones who never see you naked (this leads me to the “how much inappropriateness can I shove into one paragraph?” line of thought).
You’re single? Who cares, you love tons of people! Your mom, your neighbor, your bartender. You have plenty of people to love all over and share a beer with. That’s what’s important. The people we get to love and make a cake for.
I love you, for instance. Mostly because you make it possible for me to do my weird job. Where would I be if you didn’t care that I make food with beer instead of just drinking it like a normal person? I know where I’d be, I’d still be doing this.
Which would be fine, but my weird job is amazing. It’s more than I think I even deserve. So to thank you, I made you a cake. Feel free to share it with your mom, or your neighbor or your bartender.
Or, you know, that person who gets to see you naked. As if seeing you naked wasn’t present enough!
Individual Stout Mousse Cakes with Flambé Bourbon Beer Cherries
Yield: 2 servings
For the cherries:
¼ cup Bourbon
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup barrel aged stout
1 cup Bing cherries, pitted (thawed if frozen)
¼ cup Cointreau
For the cake:
4 tablespoons (57g) butter (plus more for ramekins)
6 oz bittersweet chocolate (62% cocoa content)
¼ cup (60mL) stout
3 eggs separated
¼ tsp cream tartar
¼ cup (50g) sugar
1 tablespoon (7g) cornstarch
1 tablespoon (8g) flour
Add the bourbon, sugar, and stout to a saucepan. Simmer until sugar has dissolved.
Add the cherries to a re-sealable jar, pour bourbon/beer mixture over the cherries. Allow to sit at room temperature for one hour. Seal and refrigerate until ready to use, can be made several weeks in advance.
Heat the oven to 375°F.
Place butter, stout and chocolate in the top of a double boiler (or a metal bowl set over a pot of water) over gently simmering water. Stir frequently until melted, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
In the bowl of a stand mixer add the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar, building up speed, beat on high until soft peaks form. While the mixer is running add the sugar a bit at a time, beat until stiff peaks form.
In a large bowl stir together the egg yolks, cornstarch, and flour. Beat on high until light and slightly fluffy.
Slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture, beating until completely combined, scraping the bottom to make sure the mixture is well incorporated.
About 1/3 at a time, gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture using a spatula. Stir until egg whites are well combined with the chocolate mixture.
Grease two large (10oz) ramekins or oven safe bowls with butter until well coated.
Add the batter evenly between the two ramekins.
Bake for thirty minutes or until the top has puffed and looks dry. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature before removing from ramekins.
Add the cherries to a small pot or skillet. Pour the Cointreau over the cherries. Using a kitchen torch or long match, light the liquid on fire. Swirl until to distribute the flame. Allow to flambé for about 2 minutes, then add a lid to extinguish the flame. Pour the liquid and the cherries evenly over the cakes. Serve immediately.
I do this thing every year, and I think you should do it, too. It’s about resolutions. I make one every year, but they aren’t about denying myself things in a way that I will spend the year torturing myself with goals that revolve around fitness or money.
They’re about ways I want to add to my life, things I want to do, things other people call “bucket list” (I hate that term, if you want to do, just do it! Don’t add it to a list!) items.
Find something you’ve always wanted to do and make it your goal. Want to go to Panama? Figure out how. Of course you can, don’t look at me like that. What do you need to do? Take a second job? Save all your money until next November when you’ll go on a Central American holiday?
Whatever it takes, it can be done. Make a goal to do something you’ve always wanted to do, stop making resolutions to hate yourself for a few months then hate yourself for giving up.
A handful of years ago my New Years goal was to get published, 6 months later I had a book deal. The next year it was to get paid to write for magazines, that year I wrote about Homeboy Industries for a magazine and it’s still my favorite thing I’ve ever written.
This year my New Years goal is get work as a travel writer. Sure, I’ve done a few things. I’ve written this, and this, but I want more. I want something big. I’ll let you know how it goes, but for now, I’m hopeful.
Set your goal, tell me what it is, and we can check in on each other through the year. You’ve got this.
Add the cranberries, granulated sugar and beer to a pot over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, add to a small dish and refrigerate until chilled (can be done several days in advance, cover if chilling longer than an hour).
In a mixing bowl add the mascarpone, powdered sugar, and salt, beat on high until well combined. Chill for at least 30 minutes and up to three days (cover if chilling longer than an hour).
Using a melon baller or small spoon, make half a ball of mascarpone, add one or two stout soaked cranberries, then add more mascarpone to make a ball about the size or a large marble. Add to a plate covered with wax paper. Continue until all the mascarpone is used. Add the plate of mascarpone balls to the freezer, freeze for 30 minutes.
Add about 8 oz of the chocolate to the top of a double boiler set over gently simmering water, making sure the water does not boil, keep the heat low. Stir until the chocolate is mostly melted. Remove from heat, add the remaining chocolate and stir until all the chocolate is melted.
One at a time add the balls of mascarpone to the melted chocolate with a fork, cover completely with chocolate, then return to the plate. Allow to dry until set, about 10 minutes. Chill until ready to serve.
It started as a last minute trip to chase down an assignment for a magazine I write for, and it ended up being more of a revelation.
How is it that Bellingham—one of the countries best beer cities—is less than two hours from my door and I had yet to explore it? How is it that it took an assignment from 1889 Magazine to get me up there?
It started at Chuckanut, a brewery so heavily awarded it’s shocking they haven’t been around longer. Although the owners have brewed since the 1980’s, and done so all over the world.
My recommendations: Kolsch, British Brown Ale
I ended up at WanderBrewing next, of my favorite of all the destinations of the weekend. Maybe because the owner, Chad, was more than gracious and welcoming. Carving out time in his hectic beer-making-business-running-brand-new-tiny-baby-at-home schedule to have a pint with me.
Maybe it was because I’ve been in love with the beer since the first time I had it. Either way, this place is a must when you find yourself anywhere close to Whatcom county.
My recommendations: Global Mutt Baltic Porter, Wanderale Belgian Blonde
From there, I needed food and found myself at the Bellingham location of one of my favorite breweries from my last visit to Wyoming, Melvin Brewing. I was delighted to see that not only was the food fantastic, but they are in the process of brewing beer specifically for the Pacific Northwest.
I love what Melvin is doing with Wyoming ingredients and I can’t wait until I can sample what they do with Washington ingredients. Word on the street is that there will be brand new brews made in Washington, for Washington as early as November. Which means I’ll need another visit in a few months.
My recommendations: Asterisk DIPA, Drunken Master Burger, Shishito Peppers
If you’re like me, and you travel with your dog as often as possible, I can’t recommend Home2 Suites in Bellingham more. Not only was this a gorgeous, brand new hotel with a kitchenette in the room and the best complimentary breakfast I’ve had on the road, but I’m pretty sure they were thrilled to see Chowder Jones check in with me. I often feel like hotels put up with my dog, this place adored him.
Although at this point the beers were starting to kick in, I wasn’t nearly close to being done. There are 12 outstanding breweries in Whatcom County, and I was just getting started.
Although not a brewery, nearly everyone I spoke to about beer in Bellingham told me about Elizabeth Station. It’s a tap room, it’s a bottle shop, but it’s more. It’s a meeting place, a craft beer community room, a neutral ground for all things beer. It’s more than worth a stop in for a beer or two.
My recommendation: Sit at a communal table and chat with people, order a flight and let the bartender choose your beers for you
Structure brewing was small in the way you want a tap room to be small. It was friendly and cozy.
My recommendations: No Sleep Stout, Group Think
Boundary Bay is Bellingham’s oldest brewery still in operation. The staff is friendly and the place is huge. Plenty of events in summer on the expansive outdoor patio, it’s both kid and dog-friendly and there is plenty of beer and food.
My recommendations: Galaxy Single Hop, Dry Irish Stout
Clearly I need another trip. Not just because I need more Wander beer, and I need to see what Melvin does, but I also need to spend more time at Kulshan, Gruff brewing and Stones Thrown. One trip isn’t enough.
For now, I’m leaving you with a recipe you need to make before blackberry season ends. It’s also my favorite tart crust ever. It’s a little soft and can be difficult to work with, but once it’s baked it’s the most tender crust I’ve ever made. Worth the hassle.
3 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
¼ cup (58g) Belgian ale beer (or pale ale, pilsner, or wheat beer)
4 ½ cups (590g) fresh, ripe blackberries
2 tablespoons (28g) sugar, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
1 tablespoon (8g) cornstarch
1 tablespoon (2g) lemon zest
1 tablespoon (12g) fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon (14g) melted butter
375F 35-40 minutes
Add flour, salt, sugar and softened butter to a food processor, process until combined. Add the cold butter, pulse until just combined, you will still be able to see some larger pieces of butter, this will create flakey layers.
Pulse in the beer until completely incorporated into the dough. Dough will be very soft.
Lay a long sheet of plastic wrap on a flat surface, add the dough to the center.
Form into a flat disk. Wrap disk tightly in plastic wrap. Chill until firm, about 3 hours and up to three days.
In a large bowl add the blackberries sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, lemon juice. Toss to coat. Allow to sit while you prepare the dough.
Knead the dough lightly in hands until dough comes together and warms slightly. Roll out on a lightly floured pieces of parchment paper to form a large circle, about ¼ inch thick. Transfer the dough circle and the parchment paper to a baking sheet.
Pour off any liquid that has accumulated in the blackberry bowl.
Add blackberries to the center of the galette.
Fold the bare edges of the dough up over the filling, using the parchment paper if necessary.
Preheat oven to 400.
Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer, freeze for 15 minutes. Alternately you can chill in the fridge for 30-45 minutes (or overnight). This will help the galette stay together when baking and help the crust to be lighter and flakier.
Brush the crust with melted butter, sprinkle with remaining sugar.
Bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Allow to cool prior to serving.