Last year for my husband's birthday, I made a really yummy root beer float Bundt cake from Joy the Baker. Her recipe is a chocolate cake with root beer in it. It's really moist, and the longer it sits out, the more the spice and kick of the root beer comes out. This year, I thought I'd be a little adventurous and try making root beer float ice cream cupcakes. I found a recipe for root beer sherbet, which sounded also really yummy, and different than just plain vanilla. My plan was set.
Later in the week after I decided to make this creation for my husband's birthday, I came across a post on Scoopalicious about an ice cream cupcake contest (with -- yes -- a prize!). I thought it was perfect that I already had a plan. The contest is co-hosted by Scoopalicious and Cupcake Project (click links for contest info).
His birthday was on Sunday, so I made the cupcakes on Friday, hoping to let as much of the root beer flavor come out as possible. With the soda in the cake batter, it's really moist, so two days left out (if covered, even with a paper towel) won't dry them out terribly. Having only made the cake once, and never in cupcake form, I wasn't sure how much it would rise. It turned out that I used more batter per cup than I would have liked to, but there still ended up being a good enough balance.
Saturday night, some friends had us over for a barbeque and they gave my husband a lemon meringue pie (his favorite) for his birthday. Into the freezer went the cupcakes. I was hosting a book group discussion at my house on Thursday, so I decided to use them for that.
On Wednesday, I tried to make the sherbet. My ice cream bowl had been in the freezer for two or three days, so it was good and cold. My root beer had been in the refrigerator for two or three days, so it was also good and cold. I'd read the recipe in advance, and it said to leave the bottles (I used cans) open to let them go flat a bit first. Being that I'd originally planned on making the sherbet sooner than I did, I'd opened them and stuck them in the fridge. By the time I used them, they were completely flat. I mixed the root beer with the sweetened condensed milk and the half-and-half, and poured it into the mixer. After 30 minutes, there was absolutely no change in consistency. I think that I needed a little bit of fizz. Whoops. I poured the "sherbet" into a bowl and stuck it in the freezer anyway, and stirred it a few times during the day and evening. It ended up freezing, but it was too icy for me to use. (The flavor is really great, though, and I would definitely not be opposed to making it again. With fizz.) To the store I went that night for some plain vanilla ice cream.
Thursday morning, I left the ice cream out on the counter to soften a little. By the time I got back to it, I was glad I didn't wait any longer. The top was really soft, but just under it was just soft enough but still hard enough to allow me the time I needed to work on the cupcakes. I filled them each just to the top of the liner (I used jumbo cupcake liners...normal jumbo, not grotesque jumbo). Then back into the freezer they went.
I made up the frosting (which has root beer, melted chocolate, and cocoa powder in it, among other things) and scooped it into my bag. It was the first time I'd ever used my frosting bag. I've never piped frosting onto a cake or cupcake before. Welcome to the big league.
So, by the time I actually got around to eating one (last night), it just tasted like chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream, with frosting. There was a little more to it, but not enough that I could tell there was root beer involved. I took pictures today, and rather than sticking the starting-to-melt cupcake back in the freezer to re-freeze in a sad and wimpy state, I ate it. :) Today I could taste a little more of the root beer. Maybe it was that the cake part of the cupcake was bigger than last night's. Maybe it was that the frosting had had longer to germinate, so the root beer was coming out in it. Either way, I could definitely taste it today.
This afternoon I looked at the contest post over at Scoopalicious for the rules. I clicked over to the entries from 2008 and 2009 and found that I wasn't nearly as original as I thought. In 2008, Coconut & Lime entered this contest with a root beer float ice cream cupcake entry, albeit a different recipe. Last year, a sponsor of the contest was justJENN recipes (who has made root beer float ice cream cupcakes too -- using the same recipe that Joy the Baker used!), which, ironically was where I found the sherbet recipe, just doing a Google search. If the authors of either of those blogs read this, know that I wasn't trying to steal an idea. I thought I was mostly original, but I guess not.
For friends reading this: while this is a contest, only entrants can vote in the first round. If I make it to the second round, the public can vote, in which case I'll be soliciting your vote. :)