If you’re a cocktail lover like me, you’ve likely been exposed to the wonderful world of bitters. For those of you who aren’t too familiar with the cocktail scene, bitters are a concentrated mixture of alcohol, herbs, aromatics and spices. Bitters are perfect for rounding out a cocktail and surprisingly, you can cook with them too.
Ever heard of Peychaud’s or Angostura? These are two common brands of bitters you’ll see at many cocktail bars. However, smaller batch bitter companies are gaining in popularity and one of my favorites is Crude Bitters, North Carolina’s first cocktail bitters company. Crude Bitters was started in 2012 with the mission to craft cocktail bitters for light and dark spirits, and to blend unique flavor combinations to enhance the overall flavor of a cocktail. Crude Bitters creates high quality bitters by hand and utilizes only the finest ingredients, often incorporating local North Carolina products.
As the temperature drops, you’re likely craving all of your favorite fall foods (I know I am). Think pies, hearty soups and braised meats. But what do cocktail bitters have to do with food? A dash of bitters used in cooking can add complex, well-rounded flavors along with a touch of herbal notes to your go-to fall recipes. I especially love using cocktail bitters when I am baking. Whenever you see extracts (like vanilla or almond, for example), you can replace these with bitters. Don’t be worried about the bitters overpowering your food, just cut the recipe’s required amount of the extract in half and replace with a dash or two of bitters.
We’ve put together two fun fall dessert recipes using our favorite bitters from Crude Bitters. We hope you enjoy, and happy baking!
Sweet Potato Pie with Crude “Attawanhood” Bitters
Recipe adapted from the Food Network
Pumpkin is always a must during the fall. From the classic pumpkin pie to the popular pumpkin spice latte, people are raving about this flavor. One vegetable that I like to replace pumpkin with when cooking at home is the sweet potato. Below is a recipe for a sweet potato pie that uses Crude “Attawanhood” bitters. According to Crude Bitters, “Attawanhood” is their 100th batch of bitters and named after the street their founder Craig Rudewicz grew up on (a fun ‘A’ name like the classic Angostura). This classic aromatic bitters is a refinement of the very first bitters he made: cinnamon. Silky, smooth with sharp bitterness and dark spice bite.
4 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp Crude “Attawanhood” bitters
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 unbaked pie shell
Preheat oven to 300 degree F. Bake sweet potatoes for 1 hour in the oven on a baking sheet. When done, let cool. Scrape the pulp out of the skin, transfer to a large bowl and mash. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat together butter, sugar and brown sugar until creamy. Add eggs, bitters, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and salt. Add evaporated milk and stir mixture into sweet potatoes. Beat together with mixer until smooth and pour into an unbaked pie shell.
Bake on bottom rack of oven for 1 hour or until center of pie is firm. Serve warm. Add whipped cream when serving, if desired.
Coffee Pecan Chocolate Cookies with Crude “Big Bear” Bitters
This recipe is dear to my heart. My grandmother Barbara Baughman gifted me a cookbook for Christmas in 2007 with all of her classic recipes that I grew up enjoying. One of my fondest memories with my grandmother is baking cookies and getting flour everywhere! This recipe is for Coffee Pecan Chocolate Cookies and has been adapted to include Crude “Big Bear” bitters. According to Crude Bitters, these bitters are a rich, velvety and perky addition to any cocktail. Using whole coffee beans and bittersweet cocoa nibs, a couple of drops with rum, bourbon or whiskey is perfection. We also think these bitters are the perfect addition to a batch of cookies!
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp Crude “Big Bear” bitters
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
24 oz chocolate chips, semisweet
1 cup pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Mix butter and both kinds of sugar and beat using an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and eggs.
In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix well.
Fold in the chocolate and pecans.
Drop the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.
All photography courtesy of crudebitters.com.