Cupcake wars at Zuppas!
By Jeri Barry
We recently had some fun in our pastry kitchen by holding our own cupcake wars at Zuppas. Two of our chefs were given one ingredient (root beer) they had to incorporate into their creations and worked side by side preparing their own version of the perfect cupcake. Carly and Corey were good sports under pressure and while there was no “winner” declared, both versions were creative and delicious. Interested in trying these at home? Check out the recipe below. Not that ambitious? Call anytime and we are happy to make them for you with advanced notice.
Root Beer Float Cupcakes
Makes 12-36 depending on pan size and cupcake fill levels
For the cakes: adapted from Add A Pinch
1 Cup butter
1/2 Cup shortening
2 1/2 Cups sugar
3 Cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Cup root beer
2 tsp. vanilla extract
For the root beer reduction:
1 Cup root beer
1/2 Cup sugar
For the Italian meringue buttercream:-adapted from Bakepedia
1 1/4 Cups sugar divided into 1 cup and 1/4 cup
1/3 Cup water
6 Large egg whites
3/4 t. cream of tartar
2 1/4 Cups unsalted butter, softened and cubed
1 T. vanilla paste
Chocolate straws, small paper straws, maraschino cherries
Begin with the root beer reduction: Combine sugar and root beer in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, swirling pan to incorporate sugar. Let simmer and whisk occasionally until thick and syrupy. Cool and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the cupcakes:Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place liners in cupcake pans. Cream butter and shortening until fluffy. Add sugar and beat for 3-5 minutes or until very light in color. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until fully incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add salt and vanilla.
Add baking powder and 1 cup of flour. Mix slowly until just combined. Add 1/2 cup of root beer and mix. Repeat with remaining flour and root beer being careful not to over mix. Fill cupcake pans 3/4 full with batter. If making average size cupcakes you will have enough batter for 24. If using jumbo pans you will get 12.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Cakes should spring back when pressed lightly with two fingers.
Let cool in pan for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack.
For the buttercream: Stir together 1 cup of sugar and 1/3 cup of water in a small sauce pan until sugar is wet. Boil over medium heat. Swirl pan occasionally to move around undissolved sugar. You can dip a pastry brush in cold water and wash the sides if crystals form. Let sugar simmer while you move to the next step.
Place egg whites in a clean bowl and whip until frothy on low speed. Add cream of tartar and increase speed to medium-high. When soft peaks have formed slowly add 1/4 cup of sugar. Whip until stiff, glossy peaks form.
Bring the simmering syrup to a boil and continue boiling until it reaches 238 degrees F.
Turn your mixer on medium and pour hot syrup into the egg whites in a steady, thin stream. Make sure not to hit the side of the mixer or the side of the bowl. Continue whipping until the bottom of the bowl is cool to the touch. This will take at least 15 minutes. When bowl is cool, slowly add softened butter a tablespoon at at time with vanilla paste. Keep whipping until the buttercream has the consistency of smooth peanut butter. The mixture may look broken at some point, keep whipping and it should come back together.
To assemble: Poke holes in cupcakes with a toothpick. Brush on leftover root beer to lock in moisture. Transfer buttercream to a piping bag with a large round tip. Pipe counterclockwise around the edge and moving up the cupcakes. Remove root beer reduction from the refrigerator and stir. If too thick place slowly heat until syrupy. Drizzle over cupcakes.
Insert the straw of your choice and top with a cherry.