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!
Dylan and I got married on the 21st in beautiful Bellingham, Washington! As much as we love you all here, we are out enjoying our honeymoon, so we’ve lined up a couple guest bloggers to take over in the mean time. We’ll be back in a couple weeks!
We did a guest post over on cookingwithsurly.com a couple months ago and now Alissa is stopping by Sweet and Stout to do the same. She writes a great blog about cooking with beer in all kinds of recipes, you should definitely go check it out.
We started chatting back in May about exchanging recipes, and both agreed it was a great idea. Alissa had been wanting to try her hand at beer cupcakes for a while, her recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen and is called “Chocolate and Whiskey Beer Cupcakes”. The title alone makes my mouth water!
Alissa says the only issue with these cupcakes was that she bought a new silicone pan and figured that the paper liners weren’t necessary if you just grease it really well. As it turned out, the cake kind of stuck to the pan, so paper liners would have been more favorable. Even still, she was able to save a few for her photo of these delicious treats. Alissa used Schokolade Bock, from Millstream Brewing, and says it turned out good. Some styles of bock beer are dark and very malty, a great beer to pair with a rich chocolate cake. I think a dopplebock would be a excellent choice. Many thanks to Alissa and Smitten Kitchen for this amazing sounding recipe!
So, want to give these cupcakes a try for yourself? Check out the recipe below:
Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes
Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes
1 cup stout (I used Schokolade Bock, but Surly Coffee Bender would be great too!)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperatue
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream)
Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.
Filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined.
Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Those are your “tasters”. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.
Frosting: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.
When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.
Ice and decorate the cupcakes.