Beer is a many-splendored drink, but it’s not just for sipping (or chugging). It adds interest to all sorts of dishes, from morning pancakes to dinnertime chili. And there are lots of ways to use beer in dessert, whether you favor aggressive IPAs or sweeter pastry beers.
Baking with beer seems like an especially perfect endeavor for tailgating season, and a must-do if you’re hosting any kind of Super Bowl party. Because it involves beer, of course, but also because these booze-infused treats are equally perfect for celebrating the sweet taste of victory or soothing the pain of defeat. (Naturally, they’re delicious at any other time too.)
Almond Biscuit Shortcakes with Roasted Figs recipe, but more strongly flavored beers obviously influence the taste as well as the texture of a given dessert. Peach, cherry, and raspberry lambics work well in jammy or fruity desserts, while spiced pumpkin beers and nutty brown ales add great fall flavor to baked goods, caramels, and frostings. Sour beers and even hoppy, piney IPAs bring bright notes to citrus desserts; saisons marry well with fruit and spice; and malty, strong Scotch ales emphasize any caramelized elements in a sweet dish.While rich, roasty stouts and porters, which often already have chocolatey elements, are a no-brainer for desserts like cakes, brownies, ice creams, and truffles, there are lots of other styles you can work into sweets. Even mild lager is useful for lightening up a batter, as in our
Always use a beer you’d drink on its own, and feel free to experiment by substituting different styles as long as the flavor and intensity makes sense. For instance, you probably don’t want to use a super-funky Belgian in place of a chocolate porter, but any other rich, mellow beer, from coffee stout to fragrant Christmas ale, would likely work (while still changing the flavor profile a bit). And milder beers are generally better in less strongly flavored desserts where they won’t be overwhelmed, while bigger beers can still shine in stronger-tasting treats, yet also blend in more easily with their deeper flavors.
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Jacquelyn Dodd (aka The Beeroness) has mastered the art of cooking and baking with beer; these recipes are for smaller bites, so they're perfect for parties.
Keep in mind, beer does affect the structure of baked goods, so you’re better off subbing in your beer of choice in a recipe that already calls for some, rather than just adding it to one that’s beer-free. And while these beer desserts may not get you buzzed (except on sugar), you should still only serve them to adults who are okay with consuming alcohol.
If that’s you, try one of these intoxicatingly delicious recipes to satisfy two cravings at once!
Choose a rich, chocolatey stout for these s’mores-inspired brownies to intensify the chocolate in the batter. And once these reach room temp, we recommend reheating individual brownies so the toasted marshmallow topping gets nice and gooey again. Get our Chocolate Stout S’mores Brownies recipe.
You can switch up the icing for this moist, rich cake however you please—drizzle on a beer caramel or a stout fudge sauce, slather on beer whipped cream, or make a simple pour-over icing with three tablespoons of your chosen brew whisked into one cup of powdered sugar. Any of these would also be great over a chocolate stout cake, of course, but gingerbread spices make things a little more interesting. Get our Guinness Gingerbread Bundt Cake recipe.
Dark chocolate stout cupcakes are a great portable option (and if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like chocolate, you can go with citrus IPA cupcakes or malty brown ale cupcakes instead). Again, you can play around with different toppings—try cream cheese frosting, stout fudge frosting, raspberry lambic frosting, white chocolate beer frosting, or even bubbly toasted beer marshmallow meringue that mimics a foamy head—but there’s much to be said for piling even more stout-infused chocolate on top! Couldn’t hurt to sprinkle on beer-candied bacon either. Get the Chocolate Stout Cupcakes recipe.
Guinness strikes again, but thanks to the plethora of options out there, you can find lots of other craft beer ice cream recipes if you prefer another style. This hearty milk chocolate stout ice cream is especially great for beer floats, though. Just scoop it into a glass and top it off with the beer of your choice (would Southern Tier’s Crème Brûlée vanilla milk stout be too much?). Get David Lebovitz’s Guinness Milk Chocolate Ice Cream recipe.
Beer helps keep baked goods moist and tender, so these brown ale-infused brown sugar cookies stay soft even days after they’re baked. This is a good recipe to try swapping in other beers, including ones with a bit more spice—and if you want even more beer flavor (who could blame you?), ice them with an easy beer glaze using the same brew that’s in the dough. Get the Brown Sugar Beer Cookies recipe.
Not everyone loves pumpkin beer, but fans of fall’s seasonal releases will adore this pull-apart monkey bread, with spiced pumpkin ale in the batter and in the caramel that soaks into every sticky morsel. When pumpkin ale is out of season, try a hard cider or malty, spicy ale in its place. Get the Pumpkin Beer Monkey Bread with Pumpkin Beer Caramel Sauce recipe.
For those who don’t love pumpkin in their beer, but still enjoy autumnal pumpkin desserts, these silky pumpkin pie bars use nutty dark brown ale to boost the caramelized flavors. A boozy, barrel-aged brown is even better with the cinnamon and brown sugar. Get the Brown Ale Pumpkin Pie Bars recipe.
These easy chocolate truffles are dynamite with a dark, chocolate-flavored beer, but you can play around with other ales to change the flavor; beers with vanilla notes make a lot of sense too. The salty, crunchy pretzel coating is the perfect contrast. Get the Beer Truffles with Pretzels recipe.
Another beer and pretzel pairing, these soft, chewy caramels are also a perfect place to experiment with different styles; pale ale could become pumpkin beer or American strong ale, even smoked porter…and instead of wrapping these in wax paper to help hold their shape, you could dip them in chocolate for another layer of flavor too. Get the Ale and Pretzel Soft Caramels recipe.
A bright, citrusy IPA is a great addition to both the crust and the filling of tangy-sweet lemon bars. Try Meyer lemons when they’re in season for a more floral dimension, and try different styles of IPA if you’re feeling adventurous. Get the IPA Lemon Bars recipe.
A super-dark, intensely rich and roasty imperial stout with notes of coffee and chocolate is a natural for mixing into decadent fudge—and the beer-candied pistachios on top are a brilliant touch. Get the Russian Imperial Stout Fudge with Beer-Candied Pistachios recipe.
A beer-infused cake that tastes like a glazed doughnut? Sounds like something you could happily eat for breakfast too! Although, after noon, you can enjoy it with a glass of pale ale to complement the flavors in the batter and the glaze. (By the way, the Beeroness has a ton of other fantastic beer desserts that you should also check out.) Get the Glazed Doughnut Beer Cake recipe.
Related Video: How to Make a Beer Milkshake
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Header image courtesy of Sprinkle Bakes.