Happy birthday Dave! Time for root beer cupcakes with cream soda frosting!
The week of his birthday, I sat my lovely husband down and showed up the recipes I’d been pinning for him. He’s a vanilla guy, so I walked him through vanilla layer cakes & pound cakes and something called “fudgy vanilla brownies”. He brought up the 2nd-prize-winning Toffee Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake with Caramel Sauce and Sea Salt, as well as my mom’s classic recipe for blonde brownies. And then we got to the root beer cupcakes, and the decision-making suddenly got a whole lot easier.
Dave’s birthday was a Friday, so I turned this into a two-day operation, baking the cupcakes Thursday night and doing the whipped cream frosting on the birthday itself. (If I’d had the day off, I would have done it all it one.)
I started by doing my first-ever reduction. I’m wary of things that involve the stove instead of the oven, but I had some good advice from an internet mom-friend. She said to pour the amount of water into the pot that you want to reduce to, so you know what it’ll look like when you get there. Smart! I poured half a cup of water into my 2-quart pot, committed it to memory, then dumped it out and poured in 2 cups of root beer.
I watched it, and I watched it, and then I watched it some more. I know it doesn’t look exciting, but it was my first reduction, and it was for Dave’s birthday, so I took it pretty seriously.
When I had that down to a half cup, I set it aside to cool a bit, and set up shop at my stand mixer.
I beat together the eggs, oil, and sugar until well blended.
I added in the reduced root beer and vanilla, skipping the almond extract. I’ve never liked that stuff. (I actually went so far as to buy it, but after a good sniff, neither Dave nor I had any further interest.)
The mixture got a little frothy once the root beer went in.
I moved on to the dry ingredients, a simple blend of all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. No whole wheat white, no wheat germ…just a basic birthday-friendly all purpose flour. (Unbleached, though.)
The blinding whiteness of it all! I quickly mixed it into the liquid, on low, until incorporated.
I poured in an additional cup of root beer. It felt weird to do it, but I did it. I mixed.
The batter was pretty pourable at that point, so I poured it into this handy thing:
And then I forgot to take a picture of the batter in the muffin cups. Oops.
I baked them for almost 20 minutes. They came out smelling delightfully root beer-y.
And that was where I left off. Fingers crossed, I called it a night.
The next day was Dave’s birthday, so I came home and got the cream soda reduction going.
I put the reduced soda in the fridge, and we headed out to dinner with the kids to celebrate the Dave we love so . As soon as we got got home, I put the mixing bowl & beaters in the freezer for a few minutes while I measured out everything I’d need for the whipped cream frosting.
Once they’d been chilled for a bit, I put the equipment back on the stand mixer and poured in the whipping cream, reduced cream soda, and vanilla. I started beating at a slow speed, increasing every few seconds.
I slowly added in the white sugar, a mere tablespoon, and beat until I had stiff peaks. (Stiff peaks!). Then I scooped it into my cupcake decorator thingy for frosting and did my best to pretty up the cupcakes, drizzling a little bit of the reduced cream soda when I was done.
Happy birthday to the most wonderful husband anyone could ask for. I am so lucky to be married to him, which is why I made him these superspecial, wacky and interesting cupcakes. They’re absolutely delicious and the soda flavors come through perfectly. The frosting, because it’s whipped cream, is nice and light. A hit!
(The only thing I changed was leaving out the almond extract; otherwise I made the recipe as is.)