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Monthly Archives: August 2011

It’s Saturday. It’s sunny. I made meringues for the first time, and have beer to go with them. There’s an adorable kitty napping on the bed. (How do they make napping look so comfortable?) There’s chocolate pie in the fridge, and I’m going out for a girls night tonight. Life is good right now.

The bake & brew:

Wunderbar. I was a little nervous that the almond & lemon flavor of the meringue plus the apricot flavor of the ale would be too much all at once. But it turns out they play off of each other really well, and one doesn’t overpower the other at all. To me, the meringue on its own had a little too much lemon, and this Pyramid brings out more almond to help balance it out. I bought a Sunset Wheat just in case the Pyramid didn’t work out, but I’m really glad my first instinct worked out well.

The lowdown on the brew:

All in all…“Boldly going where no apricot has done before.” This is another light & airy fruit ale with a very obvious apricot flavor (as it should). The apricot flavor is good, but no other flavors really come through beside it. Apricot. Beer. Done.

Recommend to a friend? Yeahh…I’m not really sure at this point if I would recommend having it on its own. With the meringues, yes. If you’re going for a 100% fruit beer, I’d go with something a little more dynamic. If you’re going for something citrusy, I’d go with something more like Sunset Wheat or an Orange Blossom Cream Ale.

Safe for lightweights? 5.1% Yes ma’am. Especially if you are stuffing your face with meringues.

Plus one? I still have a bunch of meringues left. I need something to drink with them.

The lowdown on the bake:

Ah nom noms. I haven’t been a fan of meringues in the past. I’m pretty sure I just started disliking them when I was in 2nd grade, because they had a funny texture. Boy have I been missing out. Be prepared though, these have the potential of being a gigantic mess to make. Meringue is super sticky, but if you’re willing to put up with the mess it’s actually very easy. Almonds are always a little pricey, but the other ingredients are pretty basic.

Lovelyfluffy Lemon Almond Meringues from Joy the Baker

Makes about 2 dozen small meringues

1/4 C finely ground almonds (I ground slivered almonds because it’s easier)
1 T cornstarch
2 large egg whites
pinch of salt
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 t lemon juice
1 t lemon zest
1/3 C sliced almonds
1/3 C powdered sugar
1/8 t cream of tartar (optional)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Using a food processor, finely grind almonds. Slivered almonds are easier, but whole almonds are much much less expensive. Once you have ground them as finely as possible, measure out 1/4 cup.  Spread ground almonds on one of the lined baking sheets and toast in the oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven.  Mix in a small bowl with cornstarch and set aside.

With an electric mixer (this time you do really need a real mixer), beat egg whites, pinch of salt, and the cream of tartar on medium speed. It may seem too fast, but it does need to be on medium speed. You will see it transform from the egg whites swirling around to a smooth, fluffly white. Increase the mixer speed to medium high while gradually adding sugar.  Pour in the lemon juice and beat until glossy and it holds its form.

Remove the bowl and add ground almonds and lemon zest.  Fold in until mixture is thoroughly incorporated.  Using a large piping bag, or using a spoon to drop onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper, create 2 inch cookies.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and more almonds.

Bake for 50 minutes at 200 F. When done, turn oven off, open the door a little, and let meringues cool. Transfer to wire rack when cool, and after a few hours store in airtight container. They should keep for about a week in the fridge.

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brown sugar + oats + cinnamon + almonds + butter…how could this ever go wrong?

This seriously took five minutes to prepare, twenty minutes to bake, and one minute to inhale. Your fingers will be covered in sticky brown sugar and butter after devouring this, so it may be a little embarrassing to eat in front of anyone, but if they taste a bit hopefully they’ll forgive you. Because this, my friend, is just too scrumptious for anyone to judge you.

And with Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A.? One or two sips was good with the cobbler, but milk is still the way to go.

The lowdown on the brew:

All in all…“Brewed with an obscene amount of malts & hops.” That’s what I like to hear. But on the balance of smooth vs bite, it’s neither smooth nor does it have much bite to it. Unfortunately it falls into the awkward limbo in the middle of the two.

Recommend to a friend? Out of the IPA’s I would choose something that is either smoother (a 400 Pound Monkey) or actually has an edge to it (Ruination IPA). This one’s good, but there are too many better brews out there.

Safe for lightweights? 10% Nooo. Especially if all you’ve had for dinner is peach cobbler.

Plus one? Nahh.

The lowdown on the bake:

Peach Cobbler for One from super-baker Joy the Baker

1 ripe peach

1/4 C All-Purpose flour

1/4 C packed light brown sugar

3 T rolled oats

1/4 t ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

1 T shredded coconut (I don’t like coconut so I just added more almonds)

1 T slivered almonds

2 T cold, unsalted butter, cubed

Place a rack in the center of the oven, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Slice a peach in half and remove the pit. With a small spoon, scoop out the dark red pit center, creating just a bit more room for the crumble topping.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, salt, coconut (if you wish), and almonds. Add butter and, with your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients. Quickly break up the butter until it is well combined. Some of the butter bits will be the size of oat flakes, others will be the size of small peas.

Place peach halves, cut side up, in a small, oven safe dish. Top each peach half with a generous portion of crumble topping. And LOTS of it.

Bake for 20 minutes, until topping is golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve warm with vanilla ice cream or cold milk. Best served warm from the oven. (Really, it’s incredible)

It’s true. These just happened:

They’re so rich & wonderful, I’m not sure I can handle one whole cupcake all to myself.

Let alone four.

The incredible wonderful glorious cupcakes to make you wish it was Fall already.

Cupcake

2 C flour

1 t baking soda

1 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

1 t + pinch ground cinnamon

1 t + pinch ground ginger

1/4 t + pinch nutmeg

1 C packed dark brown sugar

1 C granulated sugar

1 C butter, melted & cooled

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 can or 15 oz pumpkin puree (sometimes labelled as pure pumpkin)

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.

2. Separately, whisk together brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Be careful not to overmix! Fold in pumpkin puree with a spatula.

3. Divide batter evenly among cupcake liners, around 3/4 full. I did 3/4 full at first, but ended up putting more in so that the cupcake rose light and puffy above the liner. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the toothpick comes out clean.

Maple Buttercream Frosting

6 T crisco (yup, crisco)

1 lb confectioners sugar

1 t vanilla extract

1/8 C water

6 T pure maple syrup (not that Log Cabin or Aunt Jemima stuff…and yes, 6 tablespoons)

1. Cut the crisco into the full pound of confectioners sugar using a mixer until crumbly.

2. Add the water a little bit at the time while mixing.

3. Add vanilla extract, and maple syrup 2 tablespoons at a time until you have the consistency and taste desired.

Using crisco, you can leave the cupcakes out for several hours without worrying about safety, and the frosting doesn’t get all gooey and melted looking when it’s out in room temperature. And though I don’t expect you to take my word for it as it’s crisco, it seriously tastes divine.

All in all Ah what a blessed beer. The hoppy hoppity hop hop flavor is incredible (seriously, HOPPY…i LOVE it), balanced, and perfect for the last of the thirty days. Tastes like an IPA, but doesn’t leave you with a rot-gut taste afterwards. If it were regularly available at the bars and inexpensive, I would be adding this to my stand-bys.

Recommend to a friend? Maybe if I pray to the beer gods another one will pop up in your fridge.

Safe for lightweights? 5% even. Huzzah!

It’s so luuv.

Plus one? Maybe if I pray to the beer gods another one will pop up in my fridge.

Aw shucks guys, it’s been great. I’ve figured out what my next project is going to be, and am stoked to start it tomorrow. But looking back, what were the most memorable beers from this month? The ones I look back upon and think “ahhhh how lovely that was,” ones where I’ll turn to my friends and say “really though, you HAVE to try this.”

One…

Two…

Three…

Four…

Five…

1. 2nd to last day of The Thirsty Thirty. And I’m just a little nervous/excited/in disbelief that a month has flown by.

2. Mmm good. Scrumptious. There’s a tiny bit of burnt malty aftertaste that I’m not a fan of, but everything up until then is great.

3. Best enjoyed while listening to a bit of Mr. Monk himself. I mean, who else would you dare listen to while drinking this?

4. 9.4% Careful now, this one is a sneaky little bugger.

5. Having access to my dad’s record collection = superb.

6. For some reason I felt the strange urge to scour the kitchen and clean the bathrooms after having this…how odd.

7. Best part: “When you buy Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale you also help to support the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz whose mission is to offer the world’s most promising young musicians college level training by America’s jazz masters and to present public school-based jazz education programs for young people around the world.  All of these programs are offered free of charge to the students and schools.” from North Coast

What a lazy wonderful Sunday.

Woke up at 11 am, what what?

The house smells like rain.

Netflix + Illustrator.

Band of Horses + Beer.

Sun.

All in all…after the last Big Buck brew I wasn’t expecting much at all, but this was a really pleasant surprise. I’m actually impressed with it overall, and I thought it was solid beer. It doesn’t matter if it’s a stout, a porter, black, whatnot, it’s just a good one to have on hand in the fridge. The river on the front + listening to Band of Horses…wanting to be on vacation back in North Carolina in the mountains. Oh hey nostalgia, nice to see you this Sunday.

Recommend to a friend? I have another here if you want to share.

Safe for lightweights? Not sure about this one, as I can’t find any ABV statistics, but so far so good.

Fist pumping.

Plus one? Maybe not on a Sunday afternoon, but I have another in the fridge that I’m saving for later.