I’ll admit right now, I’ve got the winter blues. I am craving some warm weather and sunshine, and all Spokane gave me this weekend was snow. It’s just not working for me. Anyways, what does this have to do with cupcakes? Well, I made cupcakes this weekend, but much like the weather, they really didn’t work for me.
Mainly it was the frosting. I found an interesting recipe I wanted to try. Looking back, I probably should have just gone with something I know, but I wanted to be different! The frosting was something of a hybrid between meringue and butter cream, and by hybrid, I mostly meant some kind of weird, gross mutant baby of the two. I don’t even think my description is close to conveying how awkward and flavorless it tasted. Okay, moving on, let’s talk about the cake.
The cake tasted fine. I was going for a coconut raspberry with a hint of lemon, and that’s what I got, mostly. The one great thing that I came up with, and all on my own, was a beer raspberry sauce. My original intent for this sauce was to swirl it with the lemon coconut cake batter, bake amazing cupcakes, and wow you all with my genius. Since I’m not going to wow you with my cupcake skills this week, I thought I’d share the raspberry beer sauce recipe. I think this would be really tasty over some vanilla ice cream. (Now I wish I had some). Since I used all the sauce in the cupcakes, I don’t have a picture of it, but I swear, it looked really tasty.
So, without further adieu, here is my recipe for Raspberry Beer Sauce:
(makes around 1/2 cup of raspberry beer saucy goodness, double recipe to make more)
1 cup frozen red raspberries
1/4 cup beer (we used Deschutes Red Chair NWPA, yum!)
1/4 finely chopped coconut flake
Combine ingredients in sauce pan over medium to low heat. As the berries thaw out, mash them up into beer and coconut. Continue cooking over low heat, I probably cooked it for 10 minutes or more. If you’re not a fan of raspberry seeds, you could strain the mixture & just use the juice, but that’s really no fun. Let it cool a bit before you start chugging it, or put it on your ice cream. Enjoy!
This week, I challenged Dylan to come up with a cupcake we could make without having to go the store to get anything special for it. Dylan agreed, and we came up with this coffee-inspired cupcake. We took a basic cake recipe and added in strongly brewed coffee and Dick’s Imperial Stout. The beer was dark and malty, seemingly a good match for the coffee flavor we were going for.
I was hoping to get the baking done early in the day, so I fired up the oven around 11 am, cracked a beer, and got to mixing. Usually our oven takes a while to heat up, but an hour later it still had not reached 200 degrees. I knew something was wrong. [Insert giant sad face here] How can we work without an oven? Luckily for us, our toaster oven stepped in to save the day. I could go on a long spiel about how awesome toaster ovens are, but I’ll spare you [they’re awesome, everyone should own one]. I’m glad we have one, but I did have to make these cupcakes 6 at a time. My hopes of baking the cupcakes early, getting them frosted and done by early afternoon was gone.
After the long bake-a-thon, and a skype chat with my mom, we were ready to make frosting. Our idea was to make a meringue frosting (looking like the foam on top of a coffee? maybe…) and then top it with a small pool of caramel. Apparently I wanted to make these as messy as possible, and was quite successful at it. My meringue turned out pretty good, that stuff can be tricky sometimes. I tried to create a place for the caramel to sit without oozing all over the place (you can kind of tell from the pictures) – then broiled them to hold their shape. Once they were out, I used the stickiest caramel on earth, and poured some on top. What. A. Mess.
After all that drama with the oven dying, it was finally time to sit down and do a taste test. Now, maybe I’m biased because I gravitate towards chocolate desserts, but these cupcakes were just alright to me. It’s not that they were bad, I just don’t think the coffee flavor came through enough for my liking. The meringue was tasty, the caramel was messy. I’d say if we attempted to make these again, I’d probably change up the recipe a bit and add espresso instead of just the strong brew. I’d also skip the meringue and go for a whipped cream frosting, seems that it would be more fitting for a coffee-type cake. Okay, and I’d probably make them chocolate, too. [Don’t judge me.]
My apologies to any coworkers that get sticky fingers tomorrow after trying one of these!
– Jackie & Dylan
As I’ve continued down the enlightened path of craft beer drinking, I have come to realize that I really do enjoy a good India Pale Ale. I like a beer with a little bite, it keeps things interesting. This week Dylan decided he wanted to do a lime cupcake and we both agreed that the Southern Tier 2xIPA we had in the fridge would be a perfect fit. I opened the first bottle and put almost all of it in the cupcake batter, so clearly I had to open another to enjoy while I was baking. One thing I always forget about this beer is the ABV is 8.2%, it kind of sneaks up on you!
Another reason I may have picked this beer is because the label is lime green and it totally matches my new cupcake liners I bought on ebay. I mean, really, how could this have been any more coordinated? It doesn’t hurt that they tasted pretty good too!
After the cupcakes were done baking, and before I topped them with meringue, I made a mixture of lime juice and powdered sugar and put about a 1/2 teaspoon of it over each cake. I stabbed each with a fork first, so the liquid had somewhere to go. It was really messy and as I was doing this I wondered if it really would make a difference in the flavor. Well when all was said and done, it was worth the mess. I probably did this to 75% of the cupcakes I made today. When you bite into one of them, it’s like a little extra burst of lime flavor, very good!
This was my first time making meringue, and it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I just used a basic recipe and it tasted pretty good. I like how meringue is fluffy and easily spreadable. I piled it on the cupcakes and popped them back in the oven for 10 minutes and they all looked like little toasted piles of joy.
These were the perfect thing to brighten up my rainy day today. Oh, and the beer helped too!