Breakfast Buzz: Jameson and Baileys Irish Coffee Cake

irish coffee cake

“May those who love us love us. And those that don’t love us, May God turn their hearts. And if He doesn’t turn their hearts, May he turn their ankles, So we’ll know them by their limping.”

And so the countdown begins. It’s almost that wonderful time of year when being ghostly pale and looking amazing in Kelly green is the ultimate symbol of cool—so what if it’s only for about 48 hours.

I take it where I can get it.

Fratboymessy drinking aside, March 17th is a great day to dive head first into some great Irish food and love on freckles. Bring on the soda breads, scones, breakfast and beer laden stews—there’s nothing Irish about those damn coconut potatoes.

So…who’s up for breakfast?

Irish Coffee Cake
This cakey dream has all the elements of a warm Irish Coffee – java, Jameson and Baileys — in an edible form. It reminds me of those chocolate glazed donuts my grandma used to get from Curry Donut on Saturday mornings, just with a little more oomph. Thanks for encouraging the fat kid in me to recreate that taste, Gram.

Chocolate Coffee Cake:

  • 2 C. sugar
  • 2 C. All Purpose Flour
  • ¾ C. cocoa powder
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C. strong black coffee (room temp)
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 t. Cinnamon
  • 1 C. buttermilk or sour milk (1 T white vinegar + milk to equal 1 cup)
  • ½ C. vegetable oil

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, coffee, vanilla, buttermilk, and vegetable oil. Beat at a medium speed for about 2 minutes. Pour evenly into greased/floured pans. Bake 30-35 mins or until wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before you glaze.

*Time should be adjusted according to the pan you’re working with—I used 8” cake pans and cooked for about 32 mins. A rectangular or bunt pan may take a little more time. Start with 30 and go from there.

Jameson/Baileys Glaze Icing:

Melt butter and add all ingredients together. Mix until creamy. Drizzle over the top of your chocolate cake and allow to set (or not, if you can’t wait). It’s a little boozy but I’ve never heard anyone complain about a little buzz in the morning…

Wells Banana Bread Beer Banana Beer Bread (Whew)

Finished Bread

There is nothing better for my beer palate that spending a snowy Friday night with my bro. On his way home from work, Matt stops and picks up bevs for the weekend; without fail a bottle of something “interesting” makes it into the cart. Though the finds are usually so hoppy they make me want to cry or so thick, they’d stand up to being chewed (read: manly), he found a real winner with the Wells Banana Bread Beer.

Banana bread beer?” I asked, perplexed by the picture of a pint glass being born from a banana peel on the bottle. “That sounds insane.”

Exactly—it’s really bizarre. You’re going to love it.

I’ll be honest: as a beer, it is a bit insane. The toasty banana and hint of caramel were a pleasant surprise when all I expected from the UK import was banana-flavored Runts, but I’m not sure I could drink more than one. For dessert, perhaps or breakfast–definitely breakfast.

Thankfully, beer is not just for drinking. It seems almost too logical to attempt Banana Bread with Banana Bread Beer. But traditional banana bread recipes don’t call for nearly enough liquid to make good use of a whole beer.

But beer bread is a thing.

And Banana Bread Beer is a thing.

The math is simple. The recipe is even easier. And no bananas were harmed in the creation of this banana bread.

Slice 2

Wells Banana Bread Beer Banana Beer Bread

(adapted from the food.com recipe that is amazing)

  • 3 C flour (sifted: sift flour then measure it!)
  • 3 tsp. baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1 tsp. salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 ½ C Wells Banana Bread Beer (drink the rest while you’re cooking!)
  • 1/2 C melted butter (separate 2 Tbs and save for the end)
  • 1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips (its sacrilege to not include them)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Dough

Sift the flour and then measure. If you do not have a flour sifter, use a spoon to spoon flour into a 1 C measure. (Do not compact the flour when measuring). Mix baking powder, salt, and sugar into the flour. Add beer. Stir in 6 Tbs of melted butter and chocolate chips. Pour into greased loaf pan. Pour remaining butter over the top of the dough. Bake 1 hr, remove from pan and cool at least 15 mins.

The resulting bread is the perfect combination of tastes—buttery, flakey, and crunchy on top with a lightly banana flavored, lightly sweet and soft middle. If you’re not big into sweets, this might be the one to change your mind.

Bread in pan

Give Thanks for Leftovers

The dust has settled. Families are back in their respective homes. I’m slowly remembering what work needs to be done in the coming week. And I’m officially sick of turkey.

Post-Thanksgiving days revolve as much around food as the holiday itself does. Why did we make so much? Can we freeze this? How are we going to eat all of this stuff? All are questions I’ve had over the last few days. Once it’s all cooked, we hit the point of no return — it’s time to own up and not let anything go to waste.

Matt (aka: my brobro) works for a fantastic artisanal bakery that on only rare and special occasions allows him access to a Chocolate Sour Cherry Round—a specialty holiday bread so rich and decadent that it easily confuses my taste buds for cake but makes a much more acceptable breakfast than the confection (toasted, dry and with coffee).

When I found one of the coveted chocolatey boules went stale after one too many days of hearing, oh we’re saving that for so-and-so, I had to act. No perfectly good holiday food would meet the Hefty Man on my watch.

It was bread pudding time.

I’d seen chefs I worked with whip batches of it together after someone forgot to wrap and put bread deliveries away. Just because we couldn’t serve the bread for dipping, didn’t mean it was trash. Commonly known as “poor man’s pudding,” bread pudding cites its origins back as far as the 11th century and was made by frugal cooks looking for ways to use every scrap of food including bread that past its prime. By adding a little milk, sugar, eggs and some spices any leavened loaf can be saved. Recipes will vary along with the type of bread used, but the comfort food definitely spans cookbooks around the globe.

Crisis averted, folks!

And of course…to pay homage to our older brother who couldn’t be home for the holiday because he’s out battling pirates and exploring the world with periscopes, we added some in some Sailor Jerry for Sailor Hughie. What’s a little chocolate and cherries without a little rum. 

The SJ worked particularly well because it’s smooth and doesn’t carry the overly boozey baggage that I found with some other spiced rum (that I bought 3 years ago on an island somewhere…) that threatened to take over the flavor party. And let’s be honest…who doesn’t love that label. The intense vanilla and toffee flavors in the rum added a subtle sweetness and tickled the best notes of the luscious chocolate—leaving my head spinning and my stomach ready to burst. You’re welcome and I’m sorry…

Sailor Jerry Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding

  • 1 La Brea Bakery “Chocolate Sour Cherry Round”, stale
  • 2 ½ C milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/3 C Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1 T unsalted butter, melted

Pre-heat oven to 350.

Cut bread into 1” cubes, place in a large mixing bowl and pour milk over bread. Allow the bread to soak for about 10 minutes until all of the milk is absorbed. In separate smaller bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, rum, and cinnamon. Gently stir into the bread mixture.

Pour butter into the bottom of a 9” x 9” inch baking pan. Coat the bottom and the sides of the pan well with the butter. Pour in the bread mix and bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes, until set. The pudding is done when the edges start to pull away from the edge of the pan and the top gets crispy. Serve warm—with vanilla ice cream if you’re a glutton for punishment.

Liquor Store Spice Shop

There are a ton of liquors and liqueurs out there that specifically feature spices—things you might not always have or have access to because of seasonality, location or lack of a gourmet grocer. With the flavor living in a bottle though, there is no worrying about shelf life. These leaves won’t turn brown and mushy in the fridge or die on your window sill because you forgot to water them for a few weeks (come ‘on, like it hasn’t happened to you?!).

I put together a little shopping list: all great options to add to your cabinet over the next couple of weeks that can work in place of, or in harmony with, the spices they feature. Some are definite splurges, but can be enjoyed on the rocks while you cook—others are great for mixing or strictly to add to the pot

Art in the Age Suite: Rhubarb Tea, Root, Sage, Snap.

  • fruit chutneys, cookies, soups, cake, icing, stews…and just about everything els

St. Germaine—elderflower.

  • vinaigrettes, cakes, jams, champagne cocktails, fruit chutney

Jagermeister—citrus peel, licorice, anise, poppy seeds, saffron, ginger, juniper berries and ginseng.

  • roasted leg of lamb, gingerbread, chocolate glazes

broVo suite: lavender, Douglas Fir, Ginger, Lemon Balm, Rose Geranium.

  • ham glazes, poached salmon, braised beef, drunken fruit, champage cocktails

Rosolio—rose petals.

  • chocolate truffles, icings, ice cream, sorbet

Kummel—caraway seed, cumin, fennel.

  • MEAT. braising, poaching, searing, roasting, marinades for grilling…

Menta—peppermint.

  • hot toddies, brownies, cakes, with pasta (& garlic!)

Jaan Paan—betel leaf, saffron, cardamom, sandalwood.

  • chicken, salmon, waffles

Goldschlager—cinnamon Red Hots.

  • chili, chicken, pork, sugar cookies.

Ouzo—anise, fennel.

  • seafood, marinades for meats, Greek pastries

Old Liquor Store Ginger Liqueur—ginger!

  • vinaigrettes, marinades, seafood, cranberry sauce, pho

Voyant Chai—chai, cinnamon.

  • whipped cream, icings, tomato sauce, braising meat

Y Chilli—chili peppers.

  • chili, chocolate cakes, salsa

Galliano—vanilla, star anise, Mediterranean anise, ginger, citrus, juniper, musk yarrow, and lavender.

  • beef stew, brisket, braised chicken

Hurricane Survival Candy

Dearest Hurricane Sandy: way to mess up a perfectly good week.

Instead of drinking hot cider, eating an obscene number of FUN-SIZE candy bars and watching Hocus Pocus until my brain reached the consistency of wet bread, I spent most of this last week watching the news. As if the inundation with smear campaigns wasn’t enough; I’m watching the Weather Channel. I hate that about you, Sandy.

I try my best to look on the bright side of things—past the generator that’s still running my parents’ refrigerator from the garage, the houses that are in the middle of highways and the lives that are turned completely upside-down. I had two extra days off and a bottle of red I most definitely deserved (a 70 hr work week does that to a girl).

With the risk of losing power at any moment, I cooked everything that required heat from our electric stove or would be ruined if left without refrigeration. Drinking an excessive amount of coffee helped get me through the milk. “Garbage eggs” accounted for all dead and dying vegetables living in the dark places on the bottom shelf. Chicken and dumplings took care of a frozen bird, some old carrots, potatoes, lemons and the remains of a bottle of white wine I believed to be long dead.

The problem: while we had some great meals to look forward to, we lacked snacks. It was raining far too hard to venture out for anything crunchy and the few pieces of candy we had were still alive for a reason—without naming names, I’ll say that waxy milk chocolate is not my thing. No amount of rainy day boozing would get me to that point…

I started digging and found some chocolate chips. With only butter in house, I couldn’t make myself make cookies but hatched a plan when I found the hidden emergency Oreos, cream cheese and some Triple Sec (we have 3 bottles for some reason). I love the bittery sweet flavor of triple sec because its gives the full flavor of orange without tasting synthetic like some liqueurs can. Plus, together orange and chocolate can do no wrong.

So, I failed miserably at my first attempt to make Oreo chocolate truffles. Apparently chocolate is a touchy substance that does not like liquid. When water, or in this case some delicious orange flavored Dekuyper, came in contact with melted chocolate, the chocolate actually freaked out. Seizing, as it’s called, can’t really be solved but the chocolate can be repurposed. So I tossed the Oreo idea and salvaged the lumpy chocolate with more triple sec and heavy cream to form a ganache. When chilled, rolled and dipped into more melted chocolate – which I was very careful to keep clear of all liquids and liquors—I managed to make some pretty amazing truffles.

So, thank you Sandy, for giving me the time to look around my cupboards, get covered in dark chocolate and have a great reason to log some extra miles as soon as it stopped raining. I love running in the cold anyway…

Sandy’s Triple Sec Truffles

  • 2 C Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • ½ C Heavy Whipping Cream
  • ¼ C Triple Sec
  • 1 C Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • Toppings!

I’ve seen some folks start with the chocolate chips in a regular bowl, but I found that the ganache formed easier with a little heat (maybe it’s cold in my apt?)—so I put my chocolate chips in a double boiler set to low. In a small sauce pan, bring heavy cream to a boil. Add triple sec. Pour cream mixture over chocolate chips and let sit for about 2 minutes. Slowly stir the mixture until smooth and shiny. Refrigerate for about an hour or until hard.

Using a spoon or melon baller, scoop out hardened chocolate and form into balls. The chocolate will melt in the warmth of your hands, so don’t mess around with them too much. I kept mine on a plate over ice to keep them cool. Once all of the ganache balls are formed, place in freezer. Melt remaining chocolate chips in a double boiler over medium heat. Once melted, drop heat to low or turn off completely to avoid burning chocolate. Be careful to avoid any water vapors or condensation from getting anywhere near the chocolate.

Prep cookie sheet with foil or parchment. If you have fondue forks, this is a great place to use them. If not regular forks, spoons or corn picks work great for rolling the ganache balls in the melted chocolate. Roll them one at a time and place on tray to dry. I rolled mine in some toppings—salted caramel hot chocolate mix, peppermint hot chocolate mix (W&S fix), and Himalayan pink sea salt—to mix things up a bit. Orange zest, flavored sugars and cocoa powder work great, too! Store in a cool, dry hiding place.

Booze for Thought: Dessert Vodkas

It’s completely normal to spend a decent part of a Sunday afternoon in the liquor store, wandering dreamily down the aisles, considering every bottle that catches a glint of sunlight and tosses a come hither look my way…right?

Some would say I’m like a kid in a candy store. They really don’t know how right they are…

The number of whipped cream, marshmallow, caramel, bubblegum and s’mores flavored bottles there are in existence is pretty amazing. Dessert vodkas have been steadily increasing their shelf space since Pinnacle was introduced to the market in 2009. I never paid them much attention especially after seeing quite a few of these sweet spirits crust over on the bar shelves where I used to work — where one bottle lived for over a year—but after seeing the shelves today, I’m wondering why are there so many?

There’s something inherently wrong about infusing liquor with children’s snack flavors. Artificial flavoring (because there is definitely not a piece of cookie dough infusing flavor in those blue bottles), and steering under-agers to drink aside, I worry about any drink that doesn’t taste like alcohol is involved. These types of liquors will almost always be mixed with a concoction of juices or soda and before you know it, heywhahappened?! you’re wasted. The hangover to follow might make you wish for death. There’s just no reason to do that.

More importantly than that is that the experience of the flavors is removed. There’s no texture battle between the layers of sweet pastry and rich frosting. There’s no fruit filling or little bits of wax from birthday candles that burned too long. You don’t get to search out the perfect stick to roast that marshmallow or try to avoid hitting anyone when it bursts into flames and you’re trying to put it out in the most laughable way possible. You didn’t have to stick your thumb in half the contents of Russell Stover’s Holiday Pack to find what you were looking for.

Oh, and remember this scene? It’s exactly why I won’t walk down the liquid dessert path. Thanks for the warning, Willy…

There’s something to be said for simple pleasures. Creating a memory around a set of flavors instead of forgetting everything because of them seems like the better route. Expect to see me cook with some of these puppies — can’t tell me salted caramel won’t make a killer icing — but I’m not sure they’ll ever see my cocktail shaker.

I do love my sweets though but for me Frangelico, Domaine de Canton and Limoncello are just enough…

Not Your Mamas (or Grandma’s) Chocolate Chip Cookies

The first time I baked chocolate chip cookies in my own kitchen with my own pans and ingredients I purchased with my own money, I panicked. I’d gone too far, was instantly way too independent and far from home. Baking cookies was a family thing. Something we did together and only at holidays and there I was on a Tuesday (or whatever day it was) in my crappy little West Philadelphia apartment surrounded by the thick scent of old paint and industrial cleaning products, throwing tradition to the wind and doing it because I needed chocolate.

It was wrong.

But…I really wanted chocolate.

So I reverted to the exact mechanics of Christmas Eve baking in an attempt to make it right—holiday apron tied tight, The Waitresses blaring, I flipped spoonfuls of dough onto the cookie sheet, carefully making sure that I had four blobs across and six blobs down on each tray per my grandmother’s strict training. She always said that if you couldn’t fit 2 dozen cookies on a pan, you were no baker—a sentiment that my mother loved to reiterate if my spoonfuls grew too generous.

When cookies are that small, they break all the laws of baking time and temperature–I must have missed something in the kitchen when it came to making these adjustments. My resulting cookies were black bottomed and stunk of burning chocolate.  

So, I made them bigger. No one was there to smack my hand with a spatula or pinch off the extra dough or tell me I was doing it wrong. And they were better (I’m sorry, Gram). I started messing with other things—chip type, Crisco in place of butter, size of eggs, dark and light brown sugar—until I found a way to make my perfect cookie.

Perfect is really boring, by the way. Dependable and delicious…but boring.

Ruth Wakefield took a chance when she made the first chocolate chip cookie at the Toll House Inn in 1930 and in celebration of National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day (May 15th), I got to baking.

I searched out a substitution for the traditional ingredients from my standard recipe on the yellow chip bag. I’ve had a bottle of ROOT—a Pennsylvania brewed, root beer flavored liquor that dates back to the 1700s—sitting on the top of my refrigerator for about a year collecting dust so I decided to work with that instead of the traditional vanilla that the Toll House calls for. The sweet, herbal combination of birch bark, cinnamon, wintergreen, cardamom with hints of vanilla were the perfect substitution, giving the resulting cookie a taste that was more herbal than sweet vanilla.

It wasn’t quiet enough of the in-your-face Root Beer flavor I was going for, so a little paint brush (new, of course) full of booze painted the top of each cookie was the little extra “oomph” these guys needed.

I’m not a big dunker–milk just isn’t my thing–but a glass of CRW (read: cheap red wine) was the perfect pairing for this late night treat…no need to share with any kids.

Root Beer Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/4 C Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 C Crisco
  • 3/4 C white sugar
  • 3/4 C packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2 t ROOT (+ 2 T for brushing)
  • 12 oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Pre-heat oven to 350. Combine flour, salt and baking soda — be sure to stir!–in a bowl and set aside. Cream the Crisco, dark and white sugar until fluffy. (about 1 minute on high).

Add in the eggs and 2t ROOT–beat again on high for about 1 minute until completely incorporated.

Add the dry ingredients into the sugar/Crisco/egg/Root in 4 parts–mixing between each addition until flour is incorporated. Add in chocolate chips — mixing by hand so the chips don’t get annihilated.

Spoon or roll into balls and place onto cookie sheet — allowing space between dough balls for cookies to spread (I do 15 on a sheet). Place in oven for 5 minutes — rotate the pan–and cook for 5 more minutes. *I only do one pan at a time so they cook evenly.

Remove cookie tray from the oven and allow cookies to settle for about 1 minute on the tray before removing (onto a cooling rack if you are so inclined or a kitchen towel).

Once cookies are cool, brush remaining ROOT onto the top of each using a pastry brush (or small, clean paint brush). Put all dishes in sink, pray that someone else does them, pour large glass of red wine and enjoy!!

Apple Jacks Sauce

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a million times: South Jersey is a great place to grow up. We had the option of going to the ocean, the mountains, open fields, major cities, farms, lakes, zoos, museums–you name it, I day-tripped it and was home in time for dinner.

My parents are both originally from the North East PA so it was important to them that my brothers and I liked to be outside because they grew up outside–climbing trees, getting dirty and hanging my little brother from a make-shift game hoist in my grandmother back yard were all a part of childhood.

My mom loved to take us to the farms just outside of the Pine Barrens to pick blueberries in the spring, corn and tomatoes in the summer and apples in the fall. We’d spill in the front door after a long day of running between the rows of plants, covered in dirt and juice with stomach aches from stuffing our faces with the ripe, fresh fruit and more in bags than we knew what to do with. My mom and I would pick out the best looking specimens to save for fresh snacks and set to work on the rest — peeling and chopping for pies, sauces and jars.

The apple sauce was my favorite.

We only ever picked McIntosh Apples so that’s what made up our sauce — tart, juicy white flesh cooked down to a soft, caramelly brown mellowed with the addition of grated cinnamon sticks, some lemon zest and just a touch of sugar. Since it was a pretty healthy snack, and my mom made it in vats, I ate it to the point of near combustion on more than one occasion.

And I miss it. My sweet tooth craves a taste of fall afternoons long past, when a bad day meant I had too homework or got in trouble for staying too late at the playground.

So I set out to make my own. On the odd side of New Jersey apple season.

Braeburn, Rome, Cripps Pink, Royal Gala, Golden Delicious, Pacific Rose and Fuji all ready for action.

With McIntosh apples not looking so hot, and too many other options to pick just one, I decided to compromise: I bought one of each. Working with Betty Crocker and her guide to Apples-and-Their-Uses, I found a good combination of sweet and slight tart apples that are good in sauces and made a well-balanced mashup.

And while I was slicing and peeling, I remembered that my I used to love buttered noodles, white bread, and I thought that dark chocolate tasted like dirt — my childhood palate was pretty boring. I need spice. Some kick. Some heat.

This stuff needed whiskey.

So instead of water and sugar, I added Jack Daniels…and then a little more. The oaky blend pulled the spice from the cinnamon out of hiding and gave my apple sauce a slap in the face. It was a mouthful of crisp fall evening, a faint fire burning somewhere — it even lingered in my nose the same way.

Apple Jacks Sauce

  • 3 lbs of Apples
  • 1/4 C Jack Daniels Whiskey
  • 1/2 C Water
  • 2 T Cinnamon

Peel, core and slice all apples and place in a large stock pot with water and whiskey. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, stirring regularly. Add cinnamon. Cover and continue to cook on low heat for another 30-40 minutes.

This is fantastic when served warm over vanilla ice cream or spooned over a pork tenderloin and roasted. Or you can eat it like I do : out of tupperware without even closing the refrigerator.

Cookie Cookie Cookie Starts with B(ourbon)

My mother’s little sister– a living, breathing version of Snow White– was suddenly and completely dead serious when I asked for her sugar cookie recipe. The smile evaporated from her voice, the birds stopped singing at her window, the woodland creatures could go to hell for all she cared; this was serious business.

“If I give you this, you have to promise that you’re going to follow it. You’re not going to make changes or substitute things. Butter means butter. White flour means white flour. When I say rotate the pan, you rotate the pan. Got it? I need you to promise me you’re going to follow them and not act like your mother.”

I rolled my eyes at her through the telephone. All I wanted was a recipe. But where Ms. Crocker and Mrs. Fields fall flat, my Aunt Ann is a genius…so I didn’t argue. Her sugar cookies are impeccable. They manage to be perfectly soft without being doughy and undercooked in the middle. The light vanilla flavor is just sweet enough to make it treat without making a visit to the dentist necessary. And somehow they manage to never crumble and seem to never get hard. They’re present at every holiday party, family wedding, baby and bridal shower, iced and decorated so there is just the tiniest pang of guilt that surges through my system before I destroy the little piece of art.

I needed to know how to make them. She could have my pound of flesh if I could have her secret. With a hard gulp, I meekly agreed to her proposal, my voice barely audible through the receiver.

Pleased that she’d instilled the proper amount of fear, she rattled through the instructions and promised to email them to me as well to make sure I didn’t miss a thing.

I thanked her profusely, but I hung up with a heavy sense of dread. I was Flick at the schoolyard flagpole and she’d just triple dog dared me to lick it. I, apparently like my mother, have a difficult time following directions especially when I’m told that I cannot deviate from them. I figure, I almost always end up at the right place –even if a few detours are involved, so what’s the big deal?

I set out to make the cookies after a trying day—even though the dough needs to sit in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (though overnight is best)—with the hope that I could end it on a positive note. I pulled the recipe from the box above my stove and set to work, cutting the recipe in half since I didn’t have 5 ½ cups of flour…but I had 2 ¾ cups. Strike one.

I should say here that I hate cooking with butter and I will almost always sub in Crisco when baking since I think it makes for a fluffier cookie and it’s easier to mix since it’s always soft…sorry, Ann. I whipped the Crisco and started to add in other wet ingredients.

When it comes to halving a recipe with 3 eggs, I crack them all into a measuring cup, stir and measure out half. I’ve tried dumber methods – this works better.

Before adding in the dry ingredients, I reached for the vanilla extract to find the vile empty.How am you supposed to follow directions if you don’t have everything the directions call for, genius? I thought to myself.

I looked down at the bottle and read the label, looking for answers. Vanilla extract is 41% alcohol–so sub in alcohol! I looked to the bottles eying me from the top of our refrigerator—bourbon would be it. It have to do. The bottle was nearly empty anyway.

This was no longer my aunt’s cookie recipe. The strong vanilla flavor would be replaced with the lemony, honey of aged Kentucky Bourbon. This was something much, much different…and definitely not for baby showers.

So, I swapped her ingredients for mine. Vanilla replaced by Bourbon—Basil Hayden’s is what I keep, but I suppose any old good Kentucky Bourbon would do. It’s is a small batch bourbon that has about two times the rye of other bourbons. I love the light finish with its little bit of spicey peppermint and honey — it really gets my blood boiling without the burn that a lot of other bourbons have. It’s the kind of stuff that makes me want to curl up in front of a fire and have my hair rubbed. I threw in an extra dash for good measure.

I packed up the ball of dough and stuck it in the fridge and set to the icing where I used the bourbon again…only a bit so it’s just enough for flavor but no where near enough for a head ache.

The next morning I rolled the cookies out (the secret here is to keep the dough thick) and cut them with the rim of a wine glass…because I of course don’t have any cookie cutters. Circular cut-outs seem silly, but a cookie is a cookie as far as I’m concerned!

It will turn out almost cake or bisquit like — and what the cookie lacks in sweetness, the icing more than makes up.

Here’s my version (the whole thing, you can half if you’d like):

Bourbon Sugar Cookie Dough                         Icing

  • 5 1/2 cups of flour                                   1/2 C butter (icing should have butter…)
  • 1 t salt                                                     1/4 C half & half
  • 1 T baking powder                                    3 C confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 C Crisco                                                2 T bourbon
  • 2 C white sugar                                        *I like to garnish with bourbon sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 C half & half
  • 2 t bourbon

Combine flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.

Cream together the Crisco, sugar, half & half, eggs, and bourbon until fluffy. Mix on high about 1 minute. Add dry mix in gradually until completely mixed. Scrape dough into ball and refrigerate in greased gallon bag for at least 4 hours (over night is best if you can stand to wait).

Preheat Oven to 350. Lightly flour counter surface and roll dough to at least ¼” thick and cut. Cook 5 minutes, rotate pan. Cook 5 more minutes. Let cookies set on tray for a minute or two before removing—cool completely before icing. Yields about 32 cookies.