French Beer Tart

beer-tart

I admit that I’m not usually a beer person– it’s just not my thing, for the most part. But in certain applications, it can be a fun ingredient! This is one of those applications– not only is this tart delicious, but it makes a great dessert for any beer lovers you may know (and any people who, like me, aren’t necessarily beer fans).

I got the recipe from David Lebovitz, who has some great desserts (and a fabulous ice cream book that I use every summer to make my own ice creams) and lives in Paris, so I was confident that he wouldn’t fail me when it came to something called “French Beer Tart.” I was right.

This tart won rave reviews from all tasters– everyone really liked how you could taste the beer (so use one you like) without it being overpowering. One thing I might try next time would be more salt in the crust, or perhaps some ground-up pretzels instead of some of the flour. But the filling is perfect– wouldn’t change a thing.

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Spent Grain Bread

spent-grain-bread

I may not have mentioned it before, but my husband brews his own beer as a hobby. One of the byproducts of the brewing process is large quantities of spent grain– wheat, barley, or other grains that have been boiled for a while and which would otherwise be thrown away afterwards. We usually end up with several pounds of the stuff for each batch of beer, and it seems like such a waste to discard it, so I went looking for recipes to make something out of it. Bread seemed the obvious choice.

spent-grain

It turns out there are dozens of recipes out there for spent grain bread. My husband tried one on his own but it turned out dense and crumbly– I don’t think he kneaded it enough, or maybe he added too much flour to combat the stickiness– so I tried my own version based on a recipe online.

It turned out pretty well– the grain provided a sweet, nutty flavor and a nice texture to the finished bread, though I think I could’ve kneaded it a bit more and also baked it somewhat longer– my loaf was a little crumbly when sliced and slightly gummy when eaten. But I think that this recipe is a good starting point– I just need better bread instincts!

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Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

stout-banner

Every now and then I like to bring in treats to work– sometimes it’s because I have extra ingredients, sometimes it’s a holiday, or sometimes I just feel like baking something I don’t want to finish eating myself. This was basically all three– I made these for St. Patrick’s Day but didn’t get around to blogging about them until now. They’re miniature chocolate cupcakes, made with chocolate stout beer in the batter, and more in the frosting. I admit that I couldn’t taste the beer in the finished cake, but the frosting made up for it by providing just enough deep, slightly bitter flavor.

Usually I make cupcakes full-sized, but for workplace treats I tend to go mini– that way people don’t feel guilty eating one (or more!) Also, they’re so darned cute…

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Butterbeer That Deserves the Name

butterbeer

Butterbeer– An iconic beverage, prominently featured in the Harry Potter series and hugely popular at the Universal Studios Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Having heard that the recipe had been approved by J.K. Rowling herself I was eager to try it, and upon arrival at the park (after squee-ing over the storefronts and going on several rides) my friends and I purchased both varieties available– regular and frozen. We watched as the glasses were filled and topped with creamy foam from a special spigot (the bartender said that he was actually forbidden to sell it without the foam because it was such an integral part of the drink), and took our prizes to a table to taste.

Blech, was it sweet. Waaaaaayyyy too sweet. There were five of us splitting the drinks and we couldn’t come close to finishing them. And the drink┬ácontained neither butter nor beer, which seemed wrong given the name. But then– a ray of hope appeared– we had an idea. The Boar’s Head Pub, where we’d bought the sickly sweet swill, also served its own signature dark beer and maybe– just maybe– the stuff could be salvaged. We mixed the dark beer 50/50 with the sugary butterbeer, tasted it, and saw that it was good. And I decided then and there to perfect the recipe for my own butterbeer once I got home.

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