How to Bake with Bitters
Photo by Joy Summers
My favorite way to shake up holiday entertaining is to take something ridiculously simple and add an unexpected twist. It's remarkable, but one secret agent of flavor for your holiday entertaining is probably hanging out on your bar. With no extra effort on your part, guests will be dazzled by your entertaining prowess.
Bitters are all the rage for enhancing craft cocktails. No well-stocked bar is complete without at least a few of these handy vials. Even if you're going as basic as Angostura, you can still stir up some extra flavor fun: use them in baking.
Bitters and vanilla are essentially the same thing. A flavoring agent: spices/vanilla bean is steeped, usually in high proof alcohol to extract flavors. The main difference is the complexity of flavors within the bitters.
This cookie recipe could not be simpler three little ingredients plus the bitters. You can use whatever your favorite flavor and ingredient is but my personal choice is Bolivar from Bittercube bitters. Its flavors are comparable to the classic Angostura bitters. The flavors, however, are more nuanced and enjoyable thanks to the handcrafted ingredients. (Each piece of citrus is hand-zested—a laborious process.) Another fabulous flavor enhancer is cherry vanilla bark bitters.
Use whatever little dropper you have on hand to whip up a batch of these, sit back and let the compliments flow freely from guests to your awaiting ears. Once you master these cookies, try adding bitters to any of your holiday baking for an unexpected flavor twist.
Bitterly Simple Shortbread Cookies
1 c. butter
½ c. sugar
2 c. flour
1 teaspoon bitters
In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar and bitters until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour. Press dough into a log on waxed paper. Roll up and twist off ends. Allow to rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice dough into coins. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges just begin to turn golden brown.