Let’s just pretend I got this post up 10 days ago, when it was still National Cupcake Week. Sadly, my Nashville business trip preparations took up more time than I would have liked, and I didn’t get the chance to share this beauty with you in time for you to celebrate that sweet week of itty-bitty cakes.
Fortunately, I used a little sumthin’ sumthin’ in these cakes that gives them a fall flair: Blue Moon cupcakes, made with new Harvest Pumpkin Ale.
I stumbled across Miss Make’s recipe (sans pumpkin flavor) after finding a stray Blue Moon hiding in the fridge — which somehow survived the six-hour fantasy football draft — and thought it looked like an experiment worth trying for National Cupcake Week.
Be warned: If you do not like beer or Blue Moon, you will not like these cupcakes. I made the mistake of handing one over to a beer opponent, and he spat it out instantly. If you do like beer, these cupcakes are for you. You’re immediately hit by the wheat beer flavor, accented with orange [and pumpkin]. The best part of the cupcake, though, is the frosting — infused with orange and whipped into a beautiful froth akin to the head of a frosty glass of Blue Moon. Any other frosting would sit too heavily and overtake the beautiful flavors of the beercake.
♦3/4 c. butter, unsalted
♦1-3/4 c. sugar
♦2-1/2 c. flour
♦2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
♦1/2 tsp. salt
♦1 tsp. vanilla
♦1 tsp. orange zest
♦1 c. Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale
♦1/4 c. milk
Combine flour, baking powder and salt. In a stand mixer, beat butter on medium for 30 seconds. Add sugar in thirds, beating consistently for two minutes. Add eggs one at a time, and beat after each. Add vanilla and zest, and beat. In a small bowl, mix beer and milk (sounds delicious, right?). Add small amount of liquid mixture to mixer, alternating with flour mixture, and beating between each. Add to cupcake liners, and bake for 15-18 minutes at 375 degrees.
♦2 egg whites
♦1 tsp. vanilla
♦1 tbs. orange juice
♦1 c. sugar
♦1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
♦1/3 c. water
Combine water, sugar and cream of tartar in small saucepan, and heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves. In the meantime, beat egg whites, juice and vanilla until soft peaks form. With mixer running on medium, add sugar mixture and beat continuously for seven minutes. (I’ve done my own frosting before, but never with egg whites. This was an exciting “science project” for me. I actually let out a shriek when I saw what these simple ingredients turned into after several minutes of beating. It’s seriously amazing.) Once cupcakes are completely cooled, drop dollops of frothy frosting on top. Store in fridge in air-tight container. I found them still edible after at least four days.
Total time? 35 minutes.
Cost? $2.50 orange juice, $6 (?) pack of Blue Moon; use one for the cupcakes, and enjoy the rest.
Overall success relative to expectations? 9 out of 10. I told every taste tester, “I won’t be offended if you don’t like this.” The flavor is very polarizing, so you’re either going to love ’em or hate ’em. Despite not being a beer drinker, I surprisingly fell into the love ’em group. The cupcakes aren’t overly sweet, and you get every different flavor with each bite. I also loved dressing them up for the photoshoot. You can’t have a Blue Moon without an orange slice!