Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Root Beer Float Cupcakes

It's 105 degrees outside.

Most people would be happy drinking a root beer float. Not me.

I have to turn my oven up to 350 degrees and add to the heat radiating through my walls of my house.

Let me tell you, it was SO worth it.

(I'm also getting a head start on the America's Test Kitchen Bloggers Challenge for the end of August.)

I love cupcakes and I love old recipes. While waiting on my delicious cupcakes to come out of the oven, I decided to search through some OLD cookbooks to see what the original version of cupcakes were.

While searching around, I realized there is no set origin for the word "cupcake". Some argue that it came from  the time when recipes were being switched from weight measurements to what we consider the standard measurements of cups, tablespoons and teaspoons. The word "cup" referred to the type of measurement used, therefore breaking cakes into a new category of "cup cakes".

Others argue that the name "cupcake" came from cakes that were baked in individual cups or ramekins.

While I can find no proof to substantiate the origin coming from the type of measurement, I can find a reference in a 1796 cook book American Cookery, by Amelia Simmons on page 48 that says:
 "A light Cake to bake in small cups.
Half a pound sugar, half a pound butter, rubbed into two pounds flour, one glass wine, one do. rosewater, two do. emptins, a nutmeg, cinnamon and currants."

While "emptins" is referring to the yeast from a barrel of ale, other recipes of the early 1800's (such as The Frugal Housewife from 1830) say "When you have no eggs, a gill of lively emptings will do." So I assume that an egg can be used in place of the yeast. 

Yeast or egg, either way, the original "cup cake" recipe written in 1796, sounds more like a biscuit or type of bread than our modern sweet cake topped with frosting. 

OK enough with your American Cookery history lesson. 

Onto what you came here for. Delicious, 21st century cupcakes, made with the help of modern technological marvels. 

Root Beer Float Cupcakes
makes 12 cupcakes

For the cake:
1 C Root Beer
1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
¾ C Sugar
1/3 C Vegetable Oil
½ tsp Vanilla Extract
2 tsp Root Beer Concentrate
1 1/3 C All Purpose Flour
¾ tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Baking Powder
Pinch Salt

Preheat oven to 350.

In a small bowl, combine root beer, vinegar, sugar, and vegetable oil.

Mix until slightly frothy. Add vanilla and root beer concentrate.
In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir in root beer mixture in two parts, mixing until just moistened. Do not over mix.

Pour into lined muffin pan.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.

For the frosting:
½ C Unsalted Butter, room temperature
2 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste (or Extract)
1 Tbs Milk
2 C Powdered Sugar

Mix sugar and butter until creamy. Add vanilla and milk. Adjust sugar and milk as necessary to reach desired consistency. 

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