For baker Roxanne Worden Gabbard, beer and cupcakes mix very well together.
“One day, my husband and I found a recipe for an Irish Car Bomb cupcake and then we tweaked it,” Gabbard said. “Afterward, I’d drink beer and say ‘This would make a great cupcake.’ ”
Gabbard is now the owner of High Spirits Cupcakes, a part-time business that specializes in cupcakes baked with alcohol. The Dayton engineer is responsible for such concoctions as Monkey Business, made from Wells Banana Bread Beer; Blueberry Bliss, made from Dark Horse Brewing Company Tres Blueberry Stout; Joe Mocha, made from Rogue Mocha Porter; Beer Lovers Breakfast, made from Founders Breakfast Stout; and Summer Day, made from Leinenkugel Lemon Berry Shandy.
Besides the fun of getting the taste of an adult drink in your cupcake, there’s an added benefit to baking with beer. “It makes a really moist cupcake. The alcohol cooks out, but the cupcake is left with a great consistency,” Gabbard said.
Jami Smith, owner of JuneBug’s Cupcakes in Miamisburg, is another Miami Valley baker using alcohol in her cakes. Her 5 O’clock cupcakes, a margarita cake topped with a lime buttercream frosting, sell year-round, but Smith rotates in new flavors throughout the week and year. Rum Raisin cupcakes were popular at Christmas; Mint Julep cupcakes sold well in May, around the time of the Kentucky Derby; and Stout Beer cupcakes were a hit for Father’s Day.
“My son is a bartender, so he helps me sometimes come up with new flavors, depending on what’s popular for drinks he’s serving,” Smith said.
The alcohol cupcakes are very good for business. Smith said customers come in regularly for Girls Night Out cupcakes, pina colada cupcakes complete with coconut frosting, which are offered every Friday. “I can’t take it off the menu because it’s so popular,” she said.
She has found that beer cupcakes have broadened her customer base. “Sometimes it’s a big attraction for men to experience a cupcake. The beer gives the cupcake a kind of an edge,” Smith said.
Bakers at home who want to add a bit of booze to their cakes can try out recipes from the Web — there’s a ton of them available — or Smith’s Mint Julep and Gabbard’s Summer Day recipes below. Some recipes are child-friendly, since the alcohol cooks out during baking. Others can still have a kick from liquor in the frosting or from alcohol injected into the cupcake after baking, a trick Gabbard sometimes does for her cakes. (Her strawberry margarita cupcakes get an injection of triple sec.)
Both of our pros said determining the right amount of booze per recipe has been a matter of trial and error.
Amateurs might have to practice and practice and practice. Just don’t forget that at least some of what’s in that bottle on your kitchen counter is supposed to actually make it into the batter.
JuneBug’s Mint Julep Cupcakes
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped mint
1 teaspoon bourbon flavoring extract or use 1/4 cup of bourbon
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon crème de menthe flavoring
Combine items above in mixer and mix for 2 minutes.
Then add dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Bake at 350 degrees in preheated oven for 14-16 minutes.
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon creme de menthe flavoring
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
Add milk to create texture you want with frosting.
High Spirits’ Summer Day Cupcakes
(Leinenkugel Lemon Berry Shandy cupcakes with strawberry filling infused with strawberry rum.)
1 cup Leinenkugel Lemon Berry Shandy Beer
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 cup butter
2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
¾ cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350°F. Use paper liners to line cupcake pans. Bring Lemon Berry Shandy beer, lemon zest, lemon juice, and butter to simmer. Remove from heat and stir to combine.
In a separate bowl combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. In a large mixing bowl beat eggs and sour cream. Reduce to low speed and slowly add beer mixture. Add dry ingredients and beat until combined. Fill lined cups about three-fourths full.
Bake 18 to 20 minutes; toothpick inserted into center should come out clean. Remove from pan and transfer to cooling rack. Once cool, use a small paring knife to remove a core from the center of the cupcake. Fill with the strawberry filling and frost with strawberry buttercream.
1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
¾ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup water
¼ cup strawberry rum
In a medium bowl combine sliced strawberries and sugar. Set aside for approximately 1 hour. Drain juice from strawberries into a small bowl and add cornstarch to the juice. Mix until well blended and no lumps remain.
In a large saucepan, combine strawberries, strawberry juice/cornstarch mixture, lemon juice and water. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until strawberry mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes. Add strawberry rum and stir well.
Spoon mixture into a 12 inch plastic piping bag or quart size Ziploc bag and cut corner. Squeeze into cored cupcake. Save remaining mixture to incorporate into buttercream frosting.
Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 pounds powdered sugar, sifted
¼ - ½ cups strawberry rum
Cream softened butter until light and smooth. On low speed, gradually add powdered sugar and mix until incorporated into the butter. Slowly mix in strawberry rum until desired consistency is achieved. Beat until fluffy. Fill piping bag and pipe onto filled cupcakes.