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Spruce up dessert with drinks | Lovin' from the Oven

If you’re at all like me, then you enjoy your fair share of alcoholic beverages on occasions. Birthdays, weddings. Sometimes even just Tuesday.

But getting your fix doesn’t mean having to drink.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m no alcoholic. But who among us doesn’t enjoy a cool crisp beer (or margarita) on a warm summer day?

Well, with summer fast ending, rain and clouds replacing sun and heat, it’s time to start thinking about that end-o-summer party you probably should have had two weeks ago.

But instead of focusing your alcoholic escapades on the beverage alone, consider these beer-based baked goods as a nice summer dessert alternative. We’ll even make it easy for you. Just find which one you like.

Guinness

If you’re enjoy a rich, dark chocolatey stout like Guinness, then you’ll love this Chocolate Guinness Cheesecake.

First, the crust. While you could do with a simple graham cracker crust, I’d recommend a chocolate crust.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take 1-1/2 cups of chocolate cookie crumbs and two tablespoons of butter. Press this into the bottom of your springform pan let it hang out for a while.

For the cheesecake, first you’ll find it helpful if you crack a Guinness for yourself. Once that all-important task is done, blend three 8-ounces packages of cream cheese together until its smooth, then adding a cup of sugar and three eggs, one at a time.

Next, either microwave or melt down or melt down a half pound of chocolate chips, combining them with two tablespoons of heavy cream, before adding it to the cream cheese mix when it’s completely melted. Next, beat in a cup of sour cream, a pinch of salt, two teaspoons of vanilla and three-quarters cup of Guinness or another dark stout. Once these are all blended into one big happy Guinness concoction, pour it into your crust and bake it with a water bath for an hour. With the door still closed, turn the oven off and let it sit within for another half hour. Finally, remove it and let it relax at room temperature for another half-hour at least before chilling it for a minimum of four hours in the fridge. With all this waiting, you might as well crack another Guinness!

Beer

With this Cherry Beer Cake, you can pick the beer you want, allotting for a number of flavor combinations. Not only can you choose the beer, but choose other fruits. Maybe you’re a Fall person. Then get a nice Full Sail Amber and use apples. Up to you.

You’ll want the oven at 350 again, and you’ll want to open another brewski.

After sifting 3 cups of flour with two teaspoons baking soda and another of salt, cream together 2/3-cup of butter and two cups of sugar until it takes on a light, fluffy look. Add two eggs and two 1-ounce squares of unsweetened chocolate (melt it first). Next, alternately add your flour mix and beer, until the flour and 1 cup of beer are in. Next add 3/4-cup buttermilk and 1/4 cherry juice. Once this mixture is smooth, fold in 8 ounces of pitted and halved cherries and a cup of chopped walnuts.

Bake this all for 45-60 minutes until the toothpick comes out clean (Note: Another wait = another beer).

For frosting, take 2/3-cup butter, an egg, four more ounces of unsweetened melted chocolate, four cups of powdered sugar, two-and-a-half tablespoons of milk and a half-tablespoon of your beer du jour. Spread this on the cooled cake and enjoy!

Vodka

OK, this next one seemed like a stretch to me at first too. I don’t even know what to call it. But it involves fresh berries, ice cream, vodka and ... hot sauce? That’s right, hot sauce.

This is a recipe that’ll send your tongue through a number of tastes and flavors before settling down on just plain good. This recipe is for four servings.

First, take four large scoops of vanilla ice cream and mix in a teaspoon of your favorite hot sauce (use more or less, depending on how your spice tolerance is). Let this refreeze.

In the meantime, take a shot! Or wait and start melting about 1.4-cup butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in a half-cup sugar until it dissolves, then add four cups of fresh sliced strawberries (or whatever berries!). Pour a half-cup of vodka over the top and flambe it! In other words, you get to combine fire and vodka in this recipe. To flambe it, carefully light the vodka you just poured with a match, letting the flames burn themselves off before removing the pan. Scoop the ice cream out into four bowls, divvy up the berries and sauce and try it out. I guarantee you won’t forget this taste combo. And if its too spicy, you’ve got a bottle of vodka next to you to take the edge off.

White Russian

One of my personal favorite mixed drinks in the White Russian, which combines vodka, kahlua and cream (or milk) for a tasty treat worthy of His Dudeness (if you missed this reference, then you’re out of your element).

So it’s no wonder I find these White Russian Truffles tasty too.

This is a simple one, so indulge yourself on the side.

Melt down 16 ounces of chopped milk chocolate in a double boiler until it reaches 120 degrees. Next, bring a cup of whipping cream to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan. Next, remove it from the heat until it settles down to 120. Next, combine these until the mixture is smooth.

Lastly, add a quarter-cup kahlua and an optional eighth-cup vodka, mixing well. Spread this out on a baking sheet and refrigerate it until firm (more waiting time equals more drinking time!). Once it’s done, form the mixture into small rough balls, rolling the truffles into grated chocolate, finely chopped nuts, coconut ... use your imagination! Let them refrigerate overnight and pull them out about 10 minutes before serving (just enough time to make beverages for your guests).

This is just a small sample of recipes that can combine one’s passion for both food and drink. If you can eat it, can drink it and can think it, then it’s probably out there.

For these recipes and more like them, visit www.allrecipes.com.

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