Beer-infused creme brulee, pale ale-glazed genoise, stout cakes? It was only a matter of time before craft brews found their way onto dessert menus.
If you're a beer-loving baker eager to try your hand at hops-infused sweets, here are five tips to get you started.
1. Add fat
If you're trying to adapt an existing recipe, there are a few things to be aware of, says Jackie Dodd, who writes The Beeroness blog. Beer works beautifully in baked goods, because it acts as a mild leavening agent, she says, "which is why chocolate stout cake is so popular. You get that really moist, tender, great texture."
Try substituting beer for the liquid in a recipe, but bear in mind that if the liquid you're subbing out has fat -- milk, for example, or cream -- beer does not. The result can be really moist but terribly crumbly brownies. "If you're adapting grandma's chocolate cake," Dodd says, "add an extra egg yolk or more butter to compensate."
2. Match beer flavors
Craft beers have distinctive flavor notes, so be sure to match the flavor -- the chocolate or coffee tones of a stout, for example, or the citrusy spritz of a hefeweizen -- to the dessert. There's a reason bakers put stout in gingerbread and chocolate cakes, and the citrusy notes of hefeweizen can be wonderful in fruit purees, sorbets and lemon-scented dishes.
3. Beware the bitterness
Be wary of using high hop beers in recipes that reduce the liquid. Reducing anything accentuates the flavor, so reducing hoppy beer emphasizes the liquid's bitterness.
4. Pump up flavor
On the flip side, if the end result isn't flavorful enough, try a hoppier beer. More hops mean more iconic beer flavor.
5. Glaze it
If you're just getting started, Pyramid Alehouse chef Joe O'Leary suggests thinking of beer as a flavoring ingredient, like vanilla, or making your first effort a simple glaze. Make a dense simple syrup -- two parts sugar to one part water -- and simmer it for 20 minutes. Add a little beer at the end to dilute it, then brush it over cake layers, he says, for "beer glaze on your genoise."