Brown Ale Spice Cupcakes

In celebration of our maiden culinary voyage together, let’s make cupcakes!  Not just any cupcakes, mind you, but cupcakes with beer in them.  Intrigued?  Yes?  I’d hoped so.

As we previously discussed, I am all about making the most of what one has on hand.  At present, I’ve got a whole lot of brown ale on hand.  My dad and I have taken up homebrewing, and as fun as it is (it’s become a bimonthly activity), it results in having copious amounts of beer spread out in various locations around the garage.  As it’s not being consumed at nearly the rate it’s being produced, I’ve taken to finding alternative uses for it; most of these uses involve me sneaking it into a variety of dishes.  That said, here we are, about to create some fantastically tasty spice cupcakes out of beer.

Over the past few years, the craft beer industry has really taken off, resulting in a fantastic new market bursting with all manner of creative brews.  I love the patriotic humor of San Francisco’s 21st Amendment Brewery (really, how can you not try a beer named “Fireside Chat” and featuring a joyfully chatty FDR on the can?), and Oregon’s Rogue Ales never fails to impress (I implore you to check out one of their more recent creations, the Voodoo Doughnuts-inspired Maple Bacon Ale).  For this recipe, I used Nut Brown Ale, produced using a clone kit from Ice Harbor Brewing Company in Kennewick, WA.  Given the brown ale’s traditional roasted, nutty flavor, this beer easily lends itself to being paired with a variety of spices, many of which you likely already have in your cupboard.

This recipe is portioned to produce only six cupcakes- just enough that you’ve got a sweet treat on hand for you and your roomies, but not so many that you feel compelled to have a cupcake with every meal for the next six days just so none of them go to waste (because none of us have ever done that…).  However, if you have an event coming up for which you will require more than six cupcakes, by all means, double, triple, or quadruple this recipe to your heart’s content!

Brown Ale Spice Cupcakes

Adapted from Sweet Tooth

Makes Six Cupcakes

Ingredients for Cupcakes:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

pinch of salt

1 egg

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup brown ale (not counting however much you anticipate drinking while baking)

1 Tbs. milk

3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ginger

Ingredients For Frosting:

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1-2 Tbs. milk or cream

1-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Equipment:

3 medium mixing bowls (2 if you rinse and reuse one)

1 spatula

1 large spoon

1 whisk and/or electric hand mixer

6 cupcake cups in the pattern of your choosing

1 cupcake pan

1 cooling rack

To Make the Cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 375F.  In one bowl, add all dry ingredients, mixing gently to combine.  In the other mixing bowl, add all of the wet ingredients, again mixing gently to combine.  Slowly, add wet ingredients to dry and mix with the whisk or hand mixer until just combined.

Place the cupcake cups in the cupcake pan.  Using the large spoon, fill each cup 2/3-3/4 of the way full with batter.  Place the filled pan in the oven.  Bake cupcakes for 18-20 minutes; you’ll know that they’re done when a toothpick poked in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Remove pan from oven and place on cooling rack.  Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for five minutes before inverting the pan and replacing the cupcakes on the cooling rack.  Allow the cupcakes to cool on the rack for about 20 minutes, or until they reach room temperature, before frosting.

To Make the Frosting:

In a mixing bowl, beat the butter until it is smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes on medium speed with an electric mixer.  Next, add 1 Tbs. cream or milk and the vanilla and continue to beat until it is well combined with the butter.  Gradually, about 1/4 cup at a time, add the powdered sugar and mix with the butter until creamy.  Continue to add powdered sugar until your frosting reaches the desired consistency.  Last, add the cinnamon and mix it into the frosting.

You may spread the frosting atop your cooled cupcakes with a spatula or butter knife, or you may pipe it on to create a lovely frosting mountain atop your masterpiece.

Cheap Trick: If you don’t have piping bags on hand, a sandwich-size Ziploc bag will do just fine.  Simply fill the bag about 3/4 of the way full with frosting, bouncing the bag to get the frosting to the bottom.  Zip the bag shut, being sure to squeeze all of the air out, then cut off one of the bottom corners of the bag to create an opening with an approximately 1/2″ diameter.  Gradually twist the top of the bag to push the frosting out.

These cupcakes will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days or until they’re all eaten, whichever comes first.  Have fun and enjoy!

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