Monday, March 8, 2010

recipe: chocolate Guinness cookies

I made these beer-flavored cookies for the Great Guinness Toast a couple weeks ago. The recipe is cobbled together from my double-chocolate bacon cookie base and this White Beer Cookie recipe from an episode of Ultimate Recipe Showdown on Food Network that I never watched, but discovered anyway through the wonderment of Google dot com.

They took a bit of trial and error -- I wound up using sugar in the beer syrup instead of honey (which overpowered the Guinness), and my attempt to compensate for the sugary beer syrup by adding less sugar to the dough created tiny cakes rather than less-sweet cookies. (I do the Science so you don't have to.) The end result was a cookie with a hit of chocolate at first taste and an addictively bitter bite at the back of the palate. They go perfect with a pint! And if you're looking to bring something to a St. Patrick's Day party, I can guarantee that adding stout to cookies will make them more Irish than green food coloring.

Chocolate Guinness Cookies
Makes ~24 cookies. Adapted from Kathy's chocolate cookie recipe on and from Sean LaFond's White Beer Cookies, with thanks to Sarah's Sweet Tooth for testing.


Guinness syrup

2 bottles of Guinness (12 oz each)
5 tbsp sugar


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1/2 a vanilla pod, scraped)
1/3 cup prepared Guinness syrup

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda [NOTE: If you're using Dutch-process (aka pre-alkalized) cocoa powder, you should use baking POWDER instead. Otherwise you'll end up with oven-baked pancakes.]

1 tbsp powdered (confectioner's) sugar for pretty


Set out your butter and egg first to allow them to start warming up to room temperature.

For the Guinness syrup, pour both bottles of beer into a small saucepan and add the sugar. Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring the liquid to a boil, stirring to help the sugar dissolve. When the liquid hits a boil, lower the heat to a busy simmer and let the liquid reduce to a syrup, stirring more than occasionally but less than frequently. It'll take 20 minutes or more -- you're looking for it to become a rich amber color, and gain the consistency of thin honey or thick maple syrup. Also, it'll begin foaming really aggressively when you stir it (more aggressively than that... wait for it...) and will be almost exactly 1/3 cup in volume.

Take the saucepan off the heat and transfer the syrup to a small dish to allow it to cool down.

Get your oven preheating to 350.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine your dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking powder or soda, and salt) and stir with a whisk to fully incorporate. (This helps break up any clumps and get the leavening agent fully distributed.)

In a large mixing bowl, combine your softened butter (you can just nuke it for a few seconds if, like some authors of this recipe, you forgot to set it out earlier) and your white & brown sugars. Cream them together with an electric blender on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture has lightened in color and begun to hold the wavey shapes that the beaters sculpt it into as they pass through it. Add your vanilla, egg, and Guinness syrup, and blend for another minute or so until everything is incorporated.

Put down the beater! You'll want to use a spoon or spatula for this next part so that you don't overwork the flour. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir gently (but, y'know, firmly) until no dry pockets remain. The dough will be sticky.

Butter and flour a baking sheet (unless it's REALLY high-quality nonstick). Roll a rounded teaspoonful of dough into a ball in your hands and then flatten it slightly before placing it on the sheet, and repeat until you fill the sheet, leaving a couple inches between each cookie. (If you don't like getting your hands dirty, you can drop the dough onto the sheet directly from the spoon and flatten it slightly once it's on there, but I find that they come off easier when you do the flattening beforehand.)

Pop the sheet in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies look dry and provide a bit of springy resistance when you poke them (carefully, folks) with a fingertip. Remove the sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to continue cooking on it for a couple minutes before transferring them to a rack (preferred) or plate (less preferred) to cool.

For the pretty: Once the cookies are cool to the touch, put maybe a tablespoon of powdered sugar in a fine mesh sieve and hold the sieve over the plate of cookies. Tap the edge of the sieve to dust the powder onto the cookies. Pretty! (If you're feeling more ambitious than I was that night, a perfect topping/decoration might be a drizzle of white chocolate. Maybe with a bit of Irish cream mixed in carefully as the chocolate cools?)

I can't tell you how they hold up after the first day 'cause none of them survived the night. If you find out, you tell me. (Hypothetically, they should do okay in a sealed container for a day or two before they start going stale, and 10 seconds or so in a microwave should help perk them up after that.)

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