It’s a long observed tradition to leave some refreshment out for Santa on Christmas Eve. Whether this was started by desperate children looking to make their way off the naughty list, I can’t tell you.
What I can tell you is this: Santa is out there whipping through the atmosphere at a near impossible speed in late December, freezing his sleigh bells off to get a present under your tree. Combine this with the fact that he spends the rest of the year sitting in an icy fortress at the top of the world in a red velour jumpsuit with only elves for company, and I think you’ll come to the same conclusion I did.
You want to stay on Santa’s good side. Fortunately, I have just the thing to keep the coal out of your stocking:
Ginger cookies made with Imperial Stout.
There are many advantages to baking with beer. For one thing, an Imperial Stout contains a pretty significant concentration of flavour, meaning that whatever you’re baking with it will take on some of that character. Also, because cookie recipes tend to use a relatively small amount of liquid, it’s a dead certainty you’ll have to polish off the rest of the bottle. I would recommend setting the oven timer before you start on that task.
Truth be told, having made a test batch, it's hard to pick out the
individual character of the Imperial Stout in the recipe. There is, however, a pleasing sense of continuity in pairing the cookies with the same beer you used to bake them.
This recipe, provided by the Bohemian Café and Gallery in Bracebridge, Ont., calls for Muskoka’s Winter Beard Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout. It’s a good choice for the purpose, with a rich 70% dark chocolate aroma and a mildly tart note of cranberries at the finish. It’s a delicious, high quality stout. The bottle is emblazoned with a heavily bearded man, which Santa might appreciate.
The good news is that you could probably use your favorite Imperial Stout in this recipe. Flying Monkeys and The Barenaked Ladies have a cocoa-heavy stout on the market at the moment that might work extremely well in this recipe, but given the price tag, it would make some expensive cookies. Santa might feel you were trying to buy your way into his good graces. A more reasonably priced, though no less tasty alternative is Brooklyn Chocolate Stout.
No matter which Imperial Stout you decide to make the cookies with, be sure to leave a bottle out next to the cookies on Christmas Eve. A man that rotund and jolly clearly enjoys a beer.
Ginger cookies made with Imperial Stout
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 package of candied ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup Brewery's Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout Winter Beard
- 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup light molasses
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt in small bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, egg and molasses & beer until creamy. Gradually beat in flour mixture until well blended.
Roll into round balls approximately the size of a walnut. Roll in white sugar.
Place ball onto ungreased cookie sheets about two inches apart. Cut candied ginger into small pieces and place a piece in the centre of each cookie. Bake for nine to 11 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.
Cool on baking sheets for two minutes, remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes approximately 24 cookies.
Jordan St.John writes about beer at Saintjohnswort.ca. If cookies aren’t to your taste, he’s trying his hand at a beer cake.