Baking FAIL Turned Happy Hour

So a few weeks ago I attended my first Pampered Chef party, and my loot recently arrived! The arrival of my Pampered Chef goodies coincided with a large purchase from the farmers’ market that happened to include a large quantity of peaches. I do not bake often because I don’t really have a knack for it, but I was itching to use my new measuring spoons and cooling racks last weekend. I have had a few baking successes in the past, notably fresh peach scones and chocolate drizzled cranberry almond biscotti. Go figure, my baking triumphs have all occurred with foods traditionally paired with coffee or tea – coincidence?

I should have used the peaches to make fresh peach scones.

But I had been thinking about bourbon peach hand pies from Smitten Kitchen.

I decided to just go for it.

The recipe presented various challenges, including several chilling cycles that required me to return the ingredients or the dough to the refrigerator or freezer before proceeding with the recipe. It also called for tools that I do not own, so I had to improvise. Being an occasional baker, I am used to substituting some tools for other tools. On more than one occasion, I have rolled out dough with a wax paper covered wine bottle because I don’t own a rolling pin.
Everything was going great with my new measuring spoons.

I mixed together the first few ingredients and cut LOTS of butter into LOTS of small pieces.

This is going to be good.

The recipe required that I put the bowl of dry ingredients and the bowl of butter in the freezer. This of course required a total rearrangement of my freezer. If your freezer is anything like mine, there is no way you have room for two mixing bowls without doing a little rearranging. I eventually got them to fit.

Have you ever tried cutting butter into flour without a pastry blender? How about cutting frozen butter into frozen flour without a pastry blender?

You do it with two butter knives and it takes eons. I had to pull a stool up to the kitchen counter about halfway through because I thought my legs would give out. I finally finished cutting in the butter and added the liquid ingredients to form a dough. Now we’re getting somewhere!

After an hour in the refrigerator, the cold dough came out and on to my large cutting board. I started to roll it out with a wine bottle and I ran into problems. No matter how much flour I used, I could not get the dough rolled out without it sticking to everything. I rolled, gathered into a ball, and re-rolled. Over and over again. I couldn’t get it right. It was now late and I was tired and I gave up. I re-rolled the dough into a ball and put it in the freezer. The recipe said it would keep for a month. Maybe I will try again later.

So at about 10:00 PM, much to mine and Kyle’s dismay, I decided we were not having bourbon peach hand pies for dessert. Luckily I had another idea. This one had been waiting in the beer fridge just for this occasion.

Enter Southern Tier Crème Brulee Stout.

When you can’t eat dessert, why not drink it instead?

This imperial milk stout is dark black with a tan head and smells overwhelmingly like vanilla beans. Once I got used to the vanilla, I picked up on the caramel. It was not a caramel syrup smell or a caramel candy smell. It smelled very much like burnt sugar and definitely prepped me for the crème brulee taste of this beer. One sip and I was definitely aware that I was drinking dessert. This might be the sweetest beer I have ever tasted. It is dark, rich, and tastes like vanilla caramel sugary milky goodness. I was happy to split this bottle with Kyle because I don’t think I could drink a full one myself.

I don’t know if I will pick this one up again, but it is worth a first try. If you are a crème brulee fan and a beer fan, I think you should taste it, if only to marvel at how spot-on Southern Tier is with the taste of this beer. Now I know that when my own dessert experiments don’t turn out, I can count on this brewery to serve up a successful one in a bottle.

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