Hi there! Pete and Andrea of Savor Sweets here. Since Jackie and Dylan are off getting themselves married (yay!), we asked if we could step in for the weekend and give this beer cupcake thing a try. Generally our expertise lays in candy, so this was a fun venture outside our comfort zone, and quite the learning experience!
During the summer, I have been known to sit down with a half of a watermelon and a spoon, only to emerge thirty minutes later, feeling slightly guilty and very, very happy. Those memories of watermelon came to mind when I heard of 21st Amendment Brewery’s Hell or High Watermelon beer.
The beer itself is a light, wheaty beer with an aftertaste of watermelon. Not hugely complex, but great for a backyard BBQ or hanging out on the front porch after work. I figured this light, slightly fruity flavor would make for a great cupcake. We have been experimenting with watermelon candy for the last few months, and that should have taught me that watermelon is one of those flavors that I should know better than to try and bake into a cupcake. The delicate nature of watermelon can even be assumed when you read 21st Amendment Brewery’s description: brewed with watermelon extract and enhanced with watermelon. We really wanted to do this without artificial extract, and wow it was a challenge.
The good news is, the final cupcake we ended up with was pretty tasty, and definitely has a fruity flavor. It only took us three tries and twelve pounds of watermelon!
In the end, in order to get the fruity flavor across without being completely overwhelmed with overly sweet one-note flavors, we took a three-pronged approach.
First, we paired the watermelon with fresh-scraped vanilla beans. The pairing helped round out the flavor of the watermelon, which turns very one-note when baked.
Second, we used four different preparations of watermelon. The Hell or High Watermelon beer was first. Then, pureed watermelon right in the batter and in the frosting. Third, a watermelon-steeped sugar is poured over the finished cupcakes, dulche de leche style. Finally, cold-dried watermelon on top (seriously. Slices of watermelon on a cooling rack, laid out in front of our air conditioner. I’m fairly certain our neighbors were very, very worried about us.)
Finally, we reduced the amount of sugar in the cupcake itself, helping to balance the sweetness of the frosting with the cupcake.
In the end, Hell or High Watermelon makes a very tasty cupcake, though these are enough work we’ll probably crack the beer much more often than we treat ourselves to the cupcakes.
Happy Wedding Dylan and Jackie!