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Cocoa Mole! Cerveza Para Cinco de Mayo!

The hubster brought home a surprise bomber the other night.  Something new, completely unique and amazingly good.  If you’re lucky enough to have access to New Belgium Brewing Company’s specialty beers, then bypass the Mexican beers this Cinco de Mayo and pick up a bottle of their Cocoa Mole.  Holy Mole, this beer is spiced just right with ancho, guajillo and chipotle peppers; cinnamon; and bittersweet cocoa.

If you’re not familiar with mole, it’s a heavy spiced Mexican sauce or rub that’s sweet, spicy, and full of delicious, fruity smoky lingering heat.  Imagine that in a beer and you’ve got Cocoa Mole -“Porter de Mexico”.  Introduced as part of New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series, this beer is not for weak taste buds.  The spices permeate the beer without overwhelming.  You can taste every ingredient, yet the combination is brilliant, and like the sauce, the chilies and leave a sweet fruity lingering heat that blends perfectly with the spicy cinnamon and bittersweet chocolate.

For those of you who like stats with your beer reviews, here we go…

  • Medium bodied
  • Dark
  • Full Flavored
  • 9% ABV
  • IBU’s?  Target hops are used, but IBUs aren’t even listed – the spices pretty much replace the hops in this one.
  • Spices – Ancho, guajillo, and chipotle peppers, cinnamon, cocoa

If you’re thinking you’d rather cook with it than drink it, then hey, you’re not alone.  I can easily imagine cooking this down to a thick syrupy demi glacé and spooning it over mounds of tender roasted chicken or pork (Remember the beautiful food in the movie “Like Water for Chocolate”?) .  Or scoop some vanilla ice cream, pour Cocoa Mole over and top with chocolate syrup for a delicious beer ice cream float.  Yum!  Don’t believe me?  Check out New Belgium’s website for some creative Cocoa Mole recipes.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a good authentic mexican cerveza on Cinco de Mayo.  And in the heat of summer, a cold (yes, I said cold) Corona can be just the ticket (and it happens to be one of the few beers that encourages fruit).  But for a true Cinco de Mayo flavored filled cerveza experience, you’ve got to try Cocoa Mole.  At less than $10 a bottle, not only will you get a memorable beer experience, but you’ll also have a gorgeous artsy bottle that will melt down into one heck of a nice cheese plate (check out New Life for Old Beer Bottles) !

Happy Cinco de Mayo Everyone!  Viva la Mexico and Cheers Beers!

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Stuffed Beer Cheesy Poofs

January 22, 2012 8 comments

The Brooklyn Brew Shop (my favorite site for beer and spent grain recipes) posted a recipe for Beer Cheese Puffs.  Well heck, since beer and cheese just happen to be my two favorite foods, I had to give this one a try.

These little gems are made with Pate A Choux – that’s french for cream puff dough, used also for eclairs and other evil light airy cream stuffed delights.   The Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Beer Cheese Puffs are indeed super tasty, but being that these tender little pastry poofs were designed for stuffing, I couldn’t resist adding my own flavor spins and filling them with homemade beer cheese.  Each popper explodes with cheesy beer flavor.  Make them ahead of time, or freeze and reheat for the big game.    Twice baked, they’re even crispier and pouffier the second time around.

Stuffed Beer Cheesy Poofs

Ingredients

–  1 cup beer  (I used the hubster’s Indian Brown homebrew)

–  3 tbsp butter, cubed

–  1/4-1/2 tsp garlic salt

–  1 cup flour

–  4 eggs

–  1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

–  1/4 tsp regular or smoked paprika

– 1 tsp dried parsley

– 1-2 cloves crushed garlic

– 2-3 tbsp melted butter

Directions

1.   Line 2 small cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

3.  In a medium size saucepan, bring beer, butter and garlic salt to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.

4.  As soon as the mixture boils, remove from heat and add flour.

5.  Stir the mixture very fast, smashing the dough against the sides of the pot to eliminate lumps.   The dough should not stick to fingers when pinched.

Tip:  If the dough is too moist, put back on low heat and stir just enough to allow moisture to evaporate and dough to dry out. 

6.  Off the heat, quickly incorporate one egg at a time.

7.  Continue stirring, using the the wooden spoon, until the dough comes back together (shown right).

8.  Fold in cheese, paprika and parsley.

9.  Drop spoonfuls onto the parchment lined cookie sheet.  Make them all as close to the same size as possible.

10.  Crush 1-2 cloves of garlic into 2-3 tbsp of melted butter and lightly brush the tops of the dough.

11.  Sprinkle the tops with paprika.

12.  Bake at 400 degrees until they have doubled in size, about  5-10 minutes.

IMPORTANT:  DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR UNTIL THEY ARE DONE.

13.  When they have doubled in size, turn the oven down to 300 degrees.  Lowering the temperature will allow them to cook slower and dry out so they become light and crisp.  About 20-25 minutes, until they are nicely browned.

14.  Allow them to cool while you prepare the filling.

Beer Cheese Filling

Ingredients

–  4 oz. cream cheese, softened

–  3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded

–  1 tsp worchestershire sauce

–  2 cloves crushed garlic

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 1 tsp tabasco sauce

– 1/2 cup stale beer (or boiled and cooled to remove carbonation)

Directions

1.  Combine all ingredients except beer in a mixing bowl.

2.  Gradually add beer while simultaneously whisking all ingredients together (this works best with an electric mixer).

3.  Continue beating the mixture until it becomes smoother, thicker, light and fluffy.  The smoother the better for stuffing the poofs.

4.  Using a ziploc baggy, cut the bottom corner off, large enough to insert a pastry tip through.

5. From inside the bag, put the pastry tip (with a star shaped end) through the corner hole so it sticks out through the outside corner of the bag.

6.  Add the filling inside the bag.  Twist the top closed, poke the tip into the bottom of a poof, and apply pressure from the top of the bag to fill the poof with cheese.

Tip: Make extra beer cheese for dipping chips or to spread on crackers.

Enjoy now and/or freeze for later!

To reheat frozen poofs, preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 10 -15 minutes, til golden and heated through.

..

Variations

  • Try the Brooklyn Brew Shop’s gouda recipe, or try using smoked gouda, or swiss cheese.  For these, swap the worchestershire sauce for white wine vinegar, and eliminate the hot sauce.
  • Fold some finely chopped ham or bacon into the dough.
  • Try a mexican queso version, incorporating chilis or chipotle into the dough and using a spicy mexican queso filling.
  • Try different kinds of beer for this recipe.  Match your flavors – stronger beers with stronger cheeses, and milder beers with milder cheeses.

Bon Appetit and Cheers Beers!

Spent Grain Barley Snack Bars

This recipe came from the Spent Grain Chef of the Brooklyn Brew Shop.  Holy cow this chef knows how to conjure up some tasty recipes using spent grain (grain that’s left over from homebrewing).

These snack bars are absolutely delicious, and the recipe is twofold in that I also learned to dry the grain before baking with it.  It really changes the texture and makes the grain nice and crunchy, as opposed to a chewy wet sawdust texture, which works fine for dog biscuits, but not so much for human treats.

Drying the Grain

  • Preheat oven to 150 degrees (or 200 degrees if your oven won’t go that low).
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Spread the grain on the parchment in a thin layer.
  • Bake in the oven for 5-7 hours, stirring the grain every few hours to ensure even drying.
  • When completely dried, store in an airtight container and perhaps even keep refrigerated to ensure longer shelf life.

Barley Snack Bars
(from the Spent Grain Chef)

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup spent barley from brewing, dried [How to Dry Spent Grain]
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup raw almonds
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup dried cherries
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Combine your oats and raw almonds on a sheet tray and toast in the oven for six to seven minutes, stirring halfway through to prevent burning.
  2. Meanwhile line an 11X13 baking dish with wax paper or parchment and spray with non-stick spray.
  3. Put brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  4. Combine slightly cooled oats and almonds in a medium sized bowl with spent barley and dried cherries.
  5. Pour brown sugar mixture over oats mixture and combine.
  6. Pour into prepared dish and let cool 2-3 hours. Cut up and wrap individually, if you like.
  7. Made 12 individual bars. I prefer to keep them refrigerated at home, but they’re fine unrefrigerated when transporting.

Variations:  Switch these up with different ingredients. Try adding different nuts, like toasted walnuts, peanuts, cashews, or pecans. Leave them whole or chop them up. Use different fruits like dried blueberries, cranberries, raisins, or apricots. Throw in some sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Even chocolate chips, toffee bits, or even M&Ms would be fun.

I’d love to call these health bars, but they’re more like sticky, sweet, fruity, fibrous bars of wholesome yummy goodness.  Still much healthier and satisfying than a candy bar, and a great energy snack for recreational activities like hiking, biking, boating, etc.

If you have spent grain, do try these and some of the other delicious recipes devised by the Spent Grain Chef.   Another great incentive to start homebrewing, homebrew more often, make friends with a homebrewer, or in my case….marry one!

Cheers beers!

Peanut Butter Dog Cookies from Spent Grain

I’ve been itching to make dog cookies from spent grain since seeing a recipe in one of the hubster’s beer magazines.  Many breweries hand their spent grain over to local farmers for feed, so we know our four legged friends are fans.  After the hubster and his buddy brewed this weekend,  I asked him to set aside of few cups of grain for experimentation purposes.

Below is a basic recipe that seems popular among homebrewers and their canine sidekicks.  I actually halved the original recipe, and as I write this, our kitchen is filled with the yummy aroma of peanut butter dog cookies baking in the oven.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:  Hops are toxic to animals, so do not feed any grain to animals if it has come into contact with hops of any kind.

Peanut Butter and Grain Dog Cookies

Makes 2-1/2 dozen medium sized dog cookies.

Ingredients

    • 2 cups grain
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup peanut butter
    • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix ingredients thoroughly.
  3. Roll out dough and press shapes with cookies cutters, cut with knife, or drop cookies using two spoons.
  4. Bake for 30 at 350 degrees, then reduce temperature to 225 degrees and continue baking for 2 hours.  The cookies should be dried out at that point so they won’t spoil when left out.

Cool cookies and share w/ your four-legged friends.

These are rustic looking cookies.  But my dogs don’t seem to mind.  There’s not much they won’t eat and they seem to really enjoy these.

Soft or Hard Cookies.  Since I have older dogs, I prefer cookies that aren’t too hard, and still have some tenderness on the inside, so I don’t overbake them.  Test out times and temps in your oven to determine optimal baking time and texture.  Just keep in mind that if the cookies are soft, then their shelf life won’t be as long.  You can even refrigerate them so they won’t get moldy.

Storage.  I’d store these for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container, much like you would human cookies.  However, if you dry them out completely at a lower temperature for a longer period of time , then they should have a fairly long shelf life.

No Grain?  If you’re just looking for a good dog biscuit recipe but don’t have any spent grain on hand, then  visit SpiceGirlFl’s blog Savoring Every Bite and give her homemade peanut butter dog biscuits a try!

I’ll be testing and posting more recipes and ideas for using for spent grain, so stay tuned!

Cheers beers!

Coolin’ Off with Frozen Beersicles

We found Sean Paxton’s (aka. The Homebrew Chef) Beersicles recipes just in time for the 4th of July.  Easy to make, these popsicles will be the king of conversation at your next homebrew gathering or cookout. They’re also a great way to feature your homebrew or other favorite beers.  Use the recipes below as a guide for creating your own variations. Just don’t let the little kiddies get hold of these – they’re for big kids only.

Beersicles (from the Homebrew Chef)

Start with a basic simple syrup…

Simple Syrup Ingredients:

4 cups water
2 cups organic sugar

Simple Syrup Directions:

To make the simple syrup, bring water to a boil and add sugar. Whisk to dissolve the sugar and boil for 3 minutes on high. Remove from the heat and chill. This can be made in advance and will hold in the refrigerator for 3 weeks. Also perfect for cocktails and other desserts.

Union Jack IPA Pop Ingredients:

12 ounces Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Union Jack IPA
2 ounces simple syrup, recipe below

Midasicle Ingredients:

12 ounces Dogfish Head Midas Touch
2 ounces simple syrup, substitute 1/2 cup of honey for 3/4 cup sugar

Bastard Pop Ingredients:

12 ounces Stone Brewing Co. Arrogant Bastard Ale
2 ounces simple syrup

Kriek Popsicle Ingredients:

12 ounces Drie Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek
2 ounces simple syrup

Goose Island Bourbon County Stoutsicle Ingredients:

12 ounces Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
1 ounce simple syrup
1 ounce heavy whipping cream

Instructions

  • Choose your recipe and combine ingredients in a bowl with a whisk
  • Carefully pour (we used a funnel) the mixture into popsicle molds.  One recipe filled a set of 4 popsicle molds.
  • We used plastic molds, but you could probably use small plastic cups and wooden popsicle sticks, and put a small piece of plastic through the stick and over the top of the cup.
  • Freeze overnight.

We made ours with Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch and Stone’s Old Arrogant Bastard.  Reminds me of ice beer.  The flavors are somewhat condensed and the primary flavors of the beer are really accentuated.  The honey of course was prominent in the Midas Touch, and the hoppy bitterness stood out in the Old Arrogant Bastard.  The taste of the beer is retained, but sweetly enhanced with the simple syrup.  Just a fun, interesting way to experience your favorite beer, especially in the heat of summer.

You’ll find tons of great beer recipes on Sean Paxton’s website at www.thehomebrewchef.com.  He also hosts a show on The Brewing Network where he talks all about cooking with beer.  He shares some amazing homebrew and food recipes (afterall, he is a homebrewer AND a chef), as well as comprehensive insights to food and beer pairings.

Cheers beers!

Homemade Homebrew (Beer) Ice Cream

Ice cream can be made with some of the most unlikely ingredients, and oddly enough it works – garlic ice cream, green chili ice cream, green tea ice cream, and beer ice cream.  That’s right, beer in ice cream – hands down one of the simplest, most surprisingly delicious desserts you’ll ever try.

Our first beer ice cream experience was at Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown, PA.  Golden Monkey and Storm King Stout chocolate were the flavors I remember, and we practically planted our faces in the bowl to make sure none of it went to waste.  Of course, it helps to have connections with the local creamery – Victory just sends over the wort and magical ice cream is churned out exclusively for the brewpub.  It really doesn’t get much better…unless you make it at home with your own homebrew.

That’s right, you can make homebrew ice cream using just 4 simple ingredients and an inexpensive ice cream maker.  Even the kiddies can help make it and eat it too!  Before you know it, every kid in the neighborhood will be over for ice cream just so they tell their parents they had beer at your house.  Ok, that’s a little joke, but you’ll still be the talk of the neighborhood!

Here’s the recipe …

(Homebrew) Beer Ice Cream

(from Los Angeles Times, July 1, 2010)

Serves 2-4, and takes 20 minutes plus freezing time

4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup homebrewed wort or finished beer
1 cup heavy cream

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until they are pale and lemon colored. Bring the beer and the cream to a simmer in a heavy-bottom saucepan, then slowly pour over the sugar mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over low heat, whisking frequently, until it thickens.

2. Pour through a strainer into a mixing bowl set over ice and whisk until cool. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.

Each of 4 servings: 384 calories; 4 grams protein; 30 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 27 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 292 mg. cholesterol; 25 grams sugar; 34 mg. sodium.

Note:  Using wort vs finished beer is the homebrewer’s advantage for this recipe.  You still get the beer flavor without the hops and carbonation.

Voila!  That’s it.  The fun part is choosing the beer to use – less hoppy beers like belgians, stouts, or malty lagers taste best –  and maybe adding some extra ingredients.  Consider the flavors in the beer – chocolate, coffee, caramel, toffee, fruit – then match or compliment by adding chunks of chocolate, dried fruit, bits of toffee, fruit preserves, caramel or fudge toppings, chocolate syrup or nuts…whatever your inner homebrew chef conjures up.  Plain and simple is just as good, and you can always top it off later.  Just don’t forget to pair your bowl of ice cream with a matching glass of homebrew!

Cheers Beers!

(visit the recipes menu at http://www.cheersbeers.wordpress.com for more beer ice cream recipes)

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