Holiday Beer Cookies

Cooking with Beer by | Dec 2009 | Issue #35

December. A time of giving and sharing; a time of eating and drinking with family and friends. Whether it’s a Porter or a Lambic that is being poured, holiday cookies made with beer create a new realm of possibilities for beer lovers. The addition of bitter and malt to a sweet cookie compliments the sugary treat. These cookies are perfect as a gift, wrapped up, or placed onto a platter and served as dessert. Happy holidays!

Ginger Porter Snaps
Ginger and Porter: Two intense flavors that support one another. Combining them into a cookie not only works, but gives extra complexity to the standard holiday cookie, and adds an adult twist.

Makes: about 3–4 dozen cookies

12 oz. Black Butte Porter from Deschutes Brewery, reduced to 3 tablespoons
2 tbsp. black strap molasses
1 cup unsalted butter, preferably European style, room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, packing
2 each egg whites, from large eggs
1 tsp. malt vinegar
1 tsp. bourbon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup barley flour
2 tbsp. chocolate malt*, ground to a fine powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ginger, ground
2 tsp. cinnamon, ground
1 tsp. clove, ground
1/2 tsp. allspice, ground
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3/4 cup sugar

* Available at most homebrew stores or online

First begin this recipe by placing a 12-ounce bottle of Porter into a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Bring the beer to a boil, then reduce the heat to low; slowly reduce the volume till it reaches 3 tablespoons. Add the molasses and combine together.

In the bowl of an electric mixer or bowl with a hand mixer, add the butter and brown sugar, beating on high for 3 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides a few times. European butter has a higher fat content, therefore creating a more butter-rich cookie. Add in the egg whites, vinegar, vanilla and the cooled Porter reduction/molasses, beating about 2 minutes until the mixture is well combined.

While the butter is creaming, in a bowl, mix together the flours, malt powder (or cocoa powder if malt isn’t available), baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, clove, allspice and salt. Once the butter mixture is ready, add the flour mixture and combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour to firm up the cookie dough.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line two sheet trays with either Silpat or parchment paper. Place the sugar onto a plate. Using two teaspoons, portion out the dough into 1-teaspoon-size balls. Roll each ball of dough into a sphere in the palms of your hands, then lightly roll each ball in the sugar, coating evenly. Place onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing each ball about 2 inches from the edge and each other, giving room for them to spread as they bake.

Bake each tray for 12–18 minutes. If you like chewy cookies, bake for 12 minutes; for more crisp cookies, bake for 18 minutes.

Remove them from the oven, then use a spatula to transfer the still warm cookies to a cooling rack and repeat until all the dough is used. The dough can be placed into a sealable container and refrigerated for up to two weeks (or frozen for three months), baking fresh cookies as needed or desired.


  • To give more heat and intensity to the gingerbread, try mixing in 2 tablespoons of minced crystallized ginger into the batter before you start scooping them out.
  • To bring out the coffee/chocolate flavors and extra crunch, try rolling the balls of dough in cocoa nibs instead of the sugar, then bake as directed.

The Toronado Bar Cookie
This “bar” cookie is inspired by the Toronado beer bar in San Francisco owned by Dave Keene. If you haven’t heard, this bar has one of the most eclectic selections of beers on tap, including periodic celebrations highlighting particular themes and styles. In celebration of this Bay Area beer lovers’ stomping ground, I decided to blend together the ideas of variety and selection to give this “bar” cookie a complex yet classic taste.

Makes: 9-by-13-inch pan

1 cup dried Montmorency cherries
1 cup Framboise, Lindemans or other
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup barley flour
1/2 cup pistachios, shelled
1/4 cup blond soft candi sugar, or dark candi
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 each egg yolks, from large eggs
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled, chopped up into small pieces
2 each large eggs
1 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (14-oz can)
1/2 cup TCHO 60.5 percent chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup TCHO cocoa nibs
1/2 cup oat flakes
1/2 cup pistachios, raw
1/2 cup malt syrup, Eden Organic

Begin this recipe by placing the cherries into a 16-ounce mason jar and topping off with the framboise. Seal with a lid and let sit for at least 24 hours and up to five days. The dried cherries will rehydrate and plump up, giving a little pop of flavor in each bite.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Take a 9-by-13-by-3 baking pan and coat with either a nonstick spray or grease with butter. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the flours, sugar, pistachios, cocoa powder, and salt. Pulse to combine. Add in the butter and pulse until the mixture has a pea-shape consistency. Add in the egg yolks and pulse till just combined. The mixture should still be crumbly. Empty the work bowl into the prepared baking pan. Level out the crumb mixture, then press in with your finger tips, making an even layer of dough. Place into the center of the preheated oven and bake for 20–22 minutes. The cookie crust should be a light golden brown around the edges.

As the crust is cooking, in a medium-sized bowl, combine the remaining framboise from the soaked cherries, eggs and condensed milk with a whisk. Then in another bowl, mix together the soaked and drained cherries, chocolate, nibs, oats, and pistachios. Once the cookie crust is done baking, pour the graffiti (chocolate/cherry/oat/nut mixture) over the top of the cookie crust. Then pour the framboise mixture over the graffiti and drizzle the malt syrup over the top.

Place the pan back into the oven for 20–25 minutes. The top should set and become golden brown. Remove from the oven and let rest for 1 hour before cutting. Serve these bars with either an Imperial Stout, Sour Ale, or Barleywine.