Tag Archives: Vanilla Porter

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

That title is an abbreviated version of the true name: Vanilla Porter Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies. Since it’s the holiday season, Christmas cookies are high on my to-do list. Sipping winter warmers (i.e. stouts, porters, strong ales, etc.) is also very important. By my brilliant skills of deduction, I also factored this in: Beer in brownies = good. Therefore, beer in cookies = excellent. It’s mathematical, but don’t worry: I’ve got you covered.

Vanilla Porter Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

Serves 3 dozen
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Meal type Dessert
Rich, chocolatey cookies are studded with maraschino cherries and drizzled with a chocolate porter frosting.

Ingredients

  • 1 + 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Vanilla Porter (+ 4 tsp Vanilla Porter)
  • 1 jar maraschino cherries
  • 6oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1-3 teaspoon cherry juice

Directions

Step 1
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2
In a bowl, combing the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
Step 3
In a larger bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.
Step 4
Add egg and the 1/4 cup of Vanilla Porter to the butter mixture and mix well, then add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined.
Step 5
Shape the dough into 1 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet and create an indent in the center of each with your thumb.
Step 6
Drain the cherries and reserve the juice.
Step 7
Place one cherry in the center of each indentation.
Step 8
In a small pot, mix the chocolate chips and condensed milk over low heat until melted.
Step 9
Add the 4 tsp of Vanilla Porter and 1-3 tsp cherry juice to the melted chocolate, then spoon 2 tsp over each cookie.
Step 10
Bake for ten minutes.

I used whole wheat flour in my recipe, but I think my next batch will have plain white flour.
The dough will seem pretty dry, but I promise, it works out.
Roll the dough into 1 inch balls.
Use all of your post-mall-shopping aggression and jab your thumb into the centers of each ball. If you need to pretend it’s the eye of that evil person who elbowed you in the stomach as s/he grabbed the last Tickle-Me-Elmo that your youngest niece has been begging you for since the beginning of the year and won’t love you unless you are somehow able to get it to her by Christmas, I won’t judge you.
Place one cherry in the eye-socket center of the indent.
Melt the chocolate chips into the condensed milk, add the 4 tsp of Vanilla Porter and cherry juice and stir well. It should be thin enough that it falls evenly from the spoon when you lift it, but not so thin that it doesn’t cling to the cherry.
Drizzle enough frosting to completely cover the cherry, and then some.
Bake at 350 for ten minutes, then let them cool on the cookie sheet for a little bit before you transfer them to a wire rack, otherwise they fall apart and you will be forced to consume the ones that don’t make it.
It’s an arduous process, consuming those poor, unpretty cookies.

I’m off to tempt fate and visit a terrifying place full of homicidal people – the mall. Wish me luck, please.

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Pre-Thanksgiving

For the past few years we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving early with our family who lives in Awesometown (aka Valencia aka false advertising). Awesometown is not, in fact, awesome, but it’s always wonderful to spend time with the relatives.
My uncle got a Big Green Egg for his birthday and we all get to reap the results. This turkey was smoked with apples, onions, white wine and thyme and was out of this world!

Unfortunately, pictures of my full plate were forgotten while I was consuming said full plate. I gorged. I loved. It was amazing. Allie and I, being the geniuses that we are, decided that doing some TRX after dinner and champagne was a good idea.
Hint: It wasn’t.
Allie taught me some “simple” moves. I woke up in the middle of the night with massive muscle spasms thanks to those “simple” moves.
In case you were unaware: It’s a lot harder to do pushups when your feet are hanging in the slings of a TRX and you’re laughing like crazy.

All of the other pictures will have to wait until Allie sends them over from her camera. These few sum up the night pretty well though, I must say. Today I hung out with my pops who I haven’t seen in three weeks thanks to our crazy travel schedules. We bonded over the important things in life.
The first and last time I went to Anacapa Brewing was years ago, before I really understood or liked beer. I thought that there was something wrong with Anacapa’s beers because they were all bitter. Bitter = bad??? Who was I???
Turns out their beers are only 25-35 IBU. Definitely not too bitter. HOWEVER, they’re still not very good… My favorite of the sampler platter was the Off Kilter Scotch but it wasn’t distinct enough to make a lasting impression. The pumpkin was nicely spiced on the flavor, but since it’s only a seasonal it won’t be a go-to.

In other news, I’ll be going down to San Diego tomorrey to pick up a keg washer and visit a few breweries, so I felt it necessary to bake someĀ  foods that would sustain the brewer and myself on the long trip that may take up to three whole hours.
Chocolate/Peanut Butter Chip cookies (courtesy of Nestle Tollhouse – I’m lazy tonight). I had to test one to make sure it was edible and decided to pair it with a glass of my Vanilla Porter. PAIRING cookies with beer, unlike exercising after pre-Thanksgiving, was a brilliant idea.

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Kegging/Bottling Vanilla Porter

I had my first kegging session up in Santa Barbara yesterday! My completely awesome friend Grayson helped me rack off my beer into a three gallon keg (kindly provided by Enegren Brewing) and we bottled the other two gallons.
Grayson decided to be a manly man and do the difficult tasks of removing tubing from racking canes. Thanks, Gray!
This carboy smelled DELICIOUS! You can see the remains of the vanilla bean in the bottom there, and a good pumpkin homebrew that we had to sip whilst bottling. Seriously, it’s a requirement: Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew.
Carboy, keg, capper: joy on a table.
Grayson’s cat attempted to eat my priming sugar.
Cats + priming sugar = hyper! In case you didn’t know…
My beautiful, BEAUTIFUL beer! We had to try some, of course. ROCKED my world! Now I just need to name it! Suggestions, anyone? It’ll be hard to top Dos Beckis
Afterwards we hit our old stomping grounds of IV (Isla Vista) and got some Indian slop at Naan Stop. New tradition: any time I’m up there for Cicerone studying/kegging/any reason at all, we’ll be visiting Naan Stop. Delicious memories!

Today I drove out to Fountain Hills, Arizona for the fine art and wine festival. After setting up the booth, feeling exhausted and ready to drop, we had our priorities straight. Bed, you ask? Um, no.
SANGRIA! Sofrita in Fountain Hills is my absolute FAVORITE place for anything edible in Fountain Hills. There was fruit in my sangria: therefore edible, therefore dinner. Win.

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Vanilla Porter Brew Day

It’s been far too long, but I finally got to brew my own beer again! With the help of my genius brewer friends, of course. I went to the homebrew store, picked up 26lbs of grain, yeast and hops and lugged it all up to Santa Barbara for a day of brewing in the gorgeous weather.
Beckster’s Vanilla Porter! The spelling mistake was intentional, right Frank? Witty and all that? Let’s just go with witty…

This is how brew day began:
That’s a pretty accurate description for the entire day.
Laughing until I cry. Brewing is really, really difficult.
We mashed in around 4pm, only two hours later than planned!
Since I was busy taking pictures, Frank decided to portray me for a couple of shots.
The resemblance is uncanny.
We ended up sparging around 9pm.
Frank made burgers and Grayson manned the grill. It was a terrifying hour.
We made ten gallons, divided it into two boils, added separate additions to have a base and an experimental and then split it into two carboys.
My carboy, sitting next to about ten others in Frank’s closet. I SO ‘CITED!
Once the carboys were airlocked and resting comfortably, we had a tasting of ESBs (Extra Special Bitters) – a part of studying for the Cicerone test.
We tasted between Anderson Valley Boont ESB, Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery Pale Ale, Fuller’s ESB, and Shipyard Brewing’s Old Thumper ESA. I’m fairly certain we got a faulty Old Thumper – we were all disgusted by it, but it’s gotten relatively good ratings on Beer Advocate. I have so much homework to do to be able to pull out the different aromas and flavors and faults. Sigh, time to taste even MORE beer.
You better BELIZE it! Frank and Gray whipped out the beer pong table for a game (or many, many games) of death pong. I was challenged. I lost a few times. I retreated to the couch to cower as the games continued.
Brewing is really, really difficult.

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Breckenridge Brewery

Today I got to check out Breckenridge Brewery in Breckenridge, Colorado, and got a personal tour from the brewmaster himself, Matt Darling. His first words when he saw me: “Chive on!” Awesome. Just plain awesome.
You can tell the brewers by their epic beards. It’s just a fact.

Matt Darling has been homebrewing since he was 15 years old, starting with vodka and wine before moving to beer. He’s been the head brewer at Breckenridge Brewery for five years after working as the assistant to Drake Schmid for three. He considers John Jordan, the brewer at Flying Monkey who is also a microbiologist, his mentor. I had a mini-interview with Matt to follow:

Becki: What was your “gateway” beer that made you really appreciate good craft beer?
Matt: Probably Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout. (Very classy “gateway”, Matt!)
Becki: Of all of the beers at Breckenridge, what’s your personal favorite.
Matt: Our ESB (Extra Special Bitter).
Becki: Ooooh, can I try that one? Is it year round?
Matt: No, it’s seasonal. We make it in autumn.
Becki: *Sniffle* *sad face*

So my quotes aren’t quite exact, but all the information in them is! (At least I think it is. Correct me if anything’s wrong, Matt!)
The brewery is located just south of the busy part of Main Street, nestled in between dozens of aspen trees.
When you walk in, you’re greeted by the entire brew system. It’s laid out behind the bar in all its glory. On brew days, you can actually sit at the bar and watch them go through the entire process. You’d be pretty trashed by the end though – on brewing days Matt is there from 9am to 6pm with only his assistant, Jimmy Walker, to help. That mash tun has to be filled twice in order to fill one fermenter. That’s a crapload of brewing!
The entire brewpub is bigger than it appears from the outside. The second floor that’s not filled with fermenters is used for seating, with lovely views of the brewery.
Oh, and the mountains. Those are lovely too…
Excuse the following blurry images – macro in dim lighting. Upstairs they have the specialty grains in the mill room. All the regular grains are located in a silo behind the brewpub.
Once all the ales are fermented, they’re transferred down to the refrigerated basement into gigantic kegs where they’re siphoned up to the brewery until they’re empty. It doesn’t take too long. They brew about four days a week during summer to keep up with demand here. In winter, it’s up to six times a week! Them snowboarders get thirsty!
Delicious Cascade hops! They use pellets instead of whole leaf hops to avoid clogging their brew system.
Back up at the bar I got to try the beer from the “brewer’s handle”. It was a Belgian pale ale with Trappist ale yeast pitched in – beautiful golden color with slightly fruity esters. I was too busy drinking it to get a picture. The beer above is their seasonal brown ale that had been run through the brand new lines in order to allow the hoppy aroma to really come out. They have a barrel that they got from Breckenridge Distillery filled with this brown downstairs, absorbing all the intense bourbon flavors. I wish I could be in town when they open that one!
Here’s the wonderful, big board full of all of their brews, excluding the few fresh seasonals they have out now: Lucky “U” IPA, Oatmeal Stout, 471 Double Hopped IPA and Baldy Mountain Brown (I think that’s what I tried above).
Of course, since it is a brewPUB, I had to try their food! I got the grilled vegetable sandwich – portobello mushrooms, peppers, onions and cheese topped with fresh spinach, piled onto fresh ciabatta bread and covered with pesto sauce. Holy frick, this was amazing. Even better was the beer they suggested I pair with it:
Vanilla Porter. Out of this freakin’ world! Seriously, I can’t fully describe the awesomeness of this beer. There are no aroma hops used in this, so the vanilla and malt smell comes through cleanly. The first sip is slightly sweet with a warm vanilla flavor rounded out with a full mouthfeel and faint touch of hop bite that lingers on your tongue after you swallow. Only 4.7% ABV, but since I just came from sea level, that was enough to make me feel it!
Thanks again to Matt for letting me barge in and giving me all the info! I’ll be back tomorrow to try a few more beers – gotta try them while I can since they don’t distribute to California. *Sniffle* *sad face*

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