October may be over, but there’s still time to enjoy one of its best offerings: the beer. Thanks to my husband, who practically stalks the liquor store as soon as the last case of Summerfest is sold, my fridge is still brimming with Octoberfest brews. He bought so many varieties, that our kitchen started to look like a pub warehouse in Munich.
So the question is, what to do with all that beer? Besides the obvious drink to oblivion/throw a party and drink to oblivion with friends (and by “oblivion” I really mean “responsibly”), there’s another worthy way to use up good beer – put it in cookies.
Cookies? You ask. Why not some other baked good like beer bread (which is delicious and easy and this recipe is vegan too)? Or why not use it as a base for a stock or stew? Nah. I wanted cookies. Beer and cookies seemed like a perfectly acceptable and utterly under appreciated combination. Sure, it probably won’t replace milk as the king of cookie companions, but it might just serve as a worthy substitute for us beer-guzzling adults over the age of 21.
I’m not going to pretend that this brilliant idea came to me through some magical aha moment. I simply stumbled on it via the vintage pages of the 1983 Gourmet magazine I mentioned in my previous post. Clearly, they were onto something back then. Maybe it’s time these good old beer cookies made a comeback (preferably without being accompanied by side ponytails and jelly shoes). The combination of fall spices and caramel beer yielded a moist cookie with lots of flavor. Adding chocolate chips (instead of the coconut for me) brought these cookies to the next level. And just in time for the holiday cookie swap.
Spicy Octoberfest Beer Cookies
adapted from Gourmet Magazine, February 1983
1 cup raisins* (see note)
1 cup beer
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), softened
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup sweetened, grated coconut (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a small saucepan, over moderate heat, cook the raisins in the beer for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the raisins and set aside. Reserve 1/2 cup of the beer. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add the sugar gradually while beating on a low speed, and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy (but no need to over mix). Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, spices, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture alternatively with the reserved beer, beating gradually until incorporated. Stir in the vanilla, almond extract, raisins, walnuts (if using), chocolate chips and/or coconut (if using). Drop batter by rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Makes about 36 cookies.
*I’m not the biggest fan of raisins in cookies so this made me hesitate at first, but it’s nearly impossible to skip since it uses up the majority of the beer. I closed my eyes and followed the recipe and was pleasantly surprised. The beer mellows out the raisins so they add texture without overpowering the spices in this wonderfully fall cookie.