Cookies & Beer, by Jonathan Bender (2015)

Cookies & BeerMove over, milk. Cookies have grown up and found themselves a new drinking partner. And it looks like a lot of us are ready to give it a try. Whenever I mention this title, people break into a grin of anticipation – finally! Two of our favourite things at the same time! Bender (I know) and 34 others collaborated to create a compendium of cookie recipes, each with a suggested beer pairing and what notes to look for in the beer. The book opens with a handshake – an introduction of craft beer for experienced bakers, and of baking for beer drinkers. But it’s a short intro, getting right into the good stuff. Bender provides 40 recipes for cookies that will surely satisfy any occasion or taste desire, organized into six chapters: Breakfast, Chocolate, Fruit, Savory, Holiday, and Beer. While some of the earlier recipes include beer as an ingredient, all 7 in the final chapter do. We start with Man Bars for breakfast (p. 3), described as having a taste similar to thick baked pretzels, thanks to the combination of beer, bacon, and crushed kettle chips. Pair with Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout and look for coffee and caramel notes. Okay, maybe not just for breakfast. The Bacon Shortbread Cookies a few pages later (p. 8) are quite literally too rich for my blood – they call for 1 1/2 cups of bacon fat, PLUS the same amount in butter! Granted, it makes 48 cookies. Not for me, but I am definitely going to try the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (p. 46) and Nana’s Molasses Cookies (p. 84). It will be hard to resist Mocha Chocolate Cake Cookies made with smoked porter (p. 100), though I’m not sure about the Curry Coconut Macaroons (p. 66). Luscious photos of happy people enjoying cookies and beer tempt you into organizing a tasting with your friends for next weekend. The book includes some awesome sidebars too – from a primer on beer glasses to a tutorial on spent grain – the leftovers from the beermaking process. For those who make their own beer, or have friends who do, Bender provides three recipes calling for spent grain, including one for tasty dog treats. For those short on time or talent, Bender suggests pairings for packaged cookies (p. 19). You know you want to, so pick up a package of Oreos and try them with something called a milk stout. Seriously. And Bender provides another page of pairings for Americans who get so many choices in Girl Scout Cookies (p. 40). He wraps up this great package with brief bios on the 40 or so people, bakeries, and breweries who contributed to the book, a helpful chart of metric conversions, and a terrific index in which you can look up recipes by title, contributor, ingredient, or paired beer. This is a great book that is an early choice for holiday gift-giving, or just curling up on a chilly fall day. My thanks to the publisher for the advance reading copy through NetGalley.
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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