Mmmmm root beer floats. Child-like, summery; everything I need in my life right about now. These cupcakes really satisfied my cravings both hunger-wise and creativity-wise. The idea started with some simple googling and ended up a recipe puzzle!
The first couple of recipes I saw were from two of my favorite sites www.smittenkitchen.com and www.bakingbites.com (I’m convinced there’s a recipe for every baked good that has ever existed on bakingbites) Both recipes sounded amazing, but I quickly realized that they would not work for me. Typically, I bake a whole lot of something then ditch most of it off on my clients in order to avoid The Hubs and I eating insane amounts of baked goods. Both recipes called for finishing the cupcakes with vanilla ice cream (something I will definitely try in the future!) which would only make for a melty mess if these cupcakes sat out on an office kitchen counter all day. I started searching around for an alternative and saw that there were many, so I went shopping for ingredients. Problem #2: I couldn’t find root beer extract ANYWHERE, not even a specialty cooking store! I started to think I’ll have to put this project off until I could order some online. I was feeling a bit let down until I came across THIS recipe on Yumsugar.com. Not only did they provide a substitution, but I really related to their point about not making recipes that include ingredients you can’t find at a regular grocery store. However, their recipe calls for root beer schnapps and that was one thing I didn’t buy on my trip to the store, so the recipe search continued.
I think this was maybe the first time I actually had to go on to the second page of google. I read A LOT of recipes before I decided what I wanted to do. The first part of the recipe, the cake, I used the idea I saw HERE. Kristan mixes a box of white cake mix with a cup of root beer. Nothing else. No eggs, no oil; just cake mix and root beer. This really sparked my interest so I did it! (I used vanilla cake mix)
Ha ha! Yes, I used diet root beer. Hey, I have to drink the rest of that case you know! Anyway, these cakes turned out GREAT! They rose perfectly and were super fluffy and moist. I did only get 16 cupcakes out of the whole batch, though (filled the wrappers slightly more than 3/4 full)
As many of you know, I’m a sucker for filled cupcakes (evidenced HERE, HERE, and HERE ) so when I read THIS recipe I knew these cupcakes had to become filled! As per usual, I cut a little hole out of each cupcake with a paring knife, and filled the center with delicious cream filling! (Note: these were the easiest cupcakes to “cut out” that I have ever tried)
Now, a bunch of recipes that I read talk about topping the cakes with a “glaze”. I figured, why not add a glaze to an already dolled up cupcake? Most recipes call for root beer extract in the glaze. THIS one called for “root beer concentrate” I’m not sure if that’s a real thing or not, but I thought either way I could create a “concentrate” by reducing a can of root beer to a syrup, then mixing it with powdered sugar. I slowly reduced the can over medium high heat, and added the sugar. Glaze-like for sure, but it tasted more sugary than root-beery. I think next time I will use an all natural root beer. Anyway, sugar tastes good so I poured in over the cakes!
The last step in the puzzle is the frosting. Of all the frostings I read, THIS one sounded the best. Plus, I’d never used real vanilla beans before and really wanted to try it.
Well, I learned that vanilla beans are not as easy to cut open and scrape out as it seems on TV. Those suckers are hard like a stick! My fingers were definitely in danger as I opened these! Still, the results were amazing! The most authentic, vanilla flavor I’ve ever had. I would say using the whole bean was definitely worth the finger stabbing risk!
Just to be cute, I put some root beer barrel candies on top for decoration. When I was unwrapping them, The Hubs asked me what they were. He had never seen root beer barrel candy, and bet me that the MAJORITY of people didn’t know what they were either! This seemed strange to me so I’m taking a poll: Have you ever seen root beer barrel candy before?
All and all a great project! The finished product was not as root-beery as I would have liked, but they were still SUPER delish! Plus, like I mentioned before, it turned out to be a great creative outlet!