I don't know who invented the root beer float, but whoever did deserves a goddamn medal. There's really nothing better, or nothing more summery, than saddling up at your favorite old timey dinner and ordering a fountain soda mixed with ice cream. YUM. And this take on the classic treat is even cooler -- root beer float cupcakes are a must. Cool, creamy, and delicious, they're like a little taste of the 1950s, if the 1950s tastes like chocolate, sassafras, and vanilla.
Root Beer Float Cupcakes via SmittenKitchen
Makes 22 cupcakes
2 cups root beer (I used Boylan because it was easy to find and made with cane sugar)
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy or whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pint of vanilla ice cream
Maraschino cherries (optional)
Make the root beer cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 22 cupcake cups with paper liners. In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder, and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.
In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until just beaten then whisk them into the cooled cocoa mixture until combined. Fold the liquid and flour mixtures together in the large bowl. The batter will be slightly lumpy; this is okay. If you overbeat it, it will get tough.
Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 to 3/4 full (a 1/4 cup scoop or measuring cup will filled mine perfectly) and bake cupcakes, rotating trays back to front and top to bottom halfway through, until a tester inserted into the center of each comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
Assemble cupcakes: Whip heavy or whipping cream with powdered sugar and vanilla until it holds soft peaks. You can do this with an electric mixer, but if you do it by hand, not only will you get a killer arm workout (which you can trade in for a cupcake, very soon), it will be nearly impossible to overbeat the cream. (Which I almost always do with a mixer.)
Use the tip of a knife to cut a small cone of cake out of the top center of each cupcake; feel free to snack on these, I won’t tell anyone. Using a spoon or a small cookie scoop, nest a scoop of ice cream in each indent. Surround ice cream with dollops of whipped cream. Top with a cherry, if using. To keep cupcakes in a holding pattern while you assemble the remaining ones, you can put them in the freezer, but try to do so for no more than 5 minutes or the whipped cream will harden.
Photo via uits/Flickr