Beer CUPcakes (Happy birthday, hubby!)

Tomorrow is the hubby’s 30th birthday!

I love celebrating birthdays. I’m a giver by nature, so it’s so much fun for me to go overboard all out. Of course, he’s had his presents for weeks already… I’m the worst when it comes to surprises. I can’t help it! I get SO excited anticipating their reaction that I just can’t wait to give it to them. I really should start buying presents closer to the actual event. Oh well.

Since today is Friday, I spent all of yesterday making treats for him to bring to work. I’m known for baked goods in his office. Which is strange to me, because I’ve never felt fully comfortable baking. Don’t get me wrong- I LOVE to do it. It’s just that cooking has always been my comfort zone. Baking was not my friend for a lot of years, so I think I still feel a little jaded by it and am always nervous that it won’t turn out. Like the cookie incident where I was distracted by the house full of children and COMPLETELY spaced on the flour. WHAT a DISASTER that was! And the clean up was even worse! So naturally, with these treats, I left it until the day before when I had 5 children in the home to even come up with my concept. Go figure. What can I say? I thrive under pressure.

Hubby is a home brewer. I bought him his equipment as a Christmas gift 6 years ago (best wife ever award- me!). He has surprised me endlessly by keeping up with it all of these years, and has to his credit gotten very good at it. Post kids however, with times and funds being significantly more pinched, brewing tends to happen most around birthdays and Christmas when gift cards are abundant. (Plus side though – everyone always knows what to get him). So this year, I had a stroke of inspiration holding a bottle of homebrew…

BEER CUPCAKES.

It was PERFECT! 100% him and meant I got to experiment. Wins all around!

I had a million ideas. A spice cupcake with a cider? A german chocolate with a bock? There were so many possibilities.

Ultimately, I decided on three flavors- a chocolate, a vanilla, and a lemon. Something for everybody. It’s how I roll.

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The chocolate cupcake I made with a dark mild. It was a homebrew that we had, and I wanted to be able to feature one of his handmade beers in a treat. I know those are a little harder to find, so a stout would also go great. I adapted this recipe from chow for Guinness cupcakes, subbing in my own beer in place of the guinness. I also made a different frosting – A caramel cream cheese buttercream. YUM. Recipe to follow.

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The lemon shandy cupcake was a cheat cupcake that used a boxed mix base- I like an easy one that the kids can help with. You can find the recipe on the Betty Crocker website. This recipe I followed basically as is, with the exception of doubling the amount of lemon. They were perfect! I bought candied orange slices for the rims (because shandy) to more easily distinguish them from the other flavor.

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Then came the vanilla porter. This baby was my own personal experiment. Turned out deeelishous. Recipe after post. (spoiler: they’re delicious)

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Not being content to serve them in cupcake tins, I decided to make them look like little beers. How fun is that? Here’s how I did it.

I took the cupcakes out of their wrappers and dropped them into 9oz clear solo cups. They fit PERFECTLY. It’s like those cups were made for this project.

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Then, I added frosting on the top, creating a foam effect. The result was adorable beer cupcakes.

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They would be adorable for a picnic. The nice thing about them being in cups is that they stack easily. We put them into the cooler with cardboard in between each row. You could really use any flavored cupcakes that you want. Feel free to experiment and make it your own!

Vanilla Porter Cupcakes

Makes approximately 24 cupcakes

1 1/4 c. all purpose flour

1 1/4 c. cake flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 3/4 c. sugar

3 eggs, room temperature

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 c. sour cream

3/4 c. porter beer (I used vanilla porter from Breckenridge Brewery)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Set aside.

In a stand mixer beat together eggs, vanilla, and sour cream.

Slowly add dry ingredients and porter beer, alternating about 1/3 of each until fully incorporated.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full (I generally use slightly less than a full ice cream scoop).

Bake at 350 degrees for about 18-22 mins until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes in tray before moving onto cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting. Frost with vanilla porter cream cheese buttercream or caramel cream cheese buttercream.

Vanilla Porter Cream Cheese Buttercream

Makes enough frosting for 24 cupcakes

1 stick salted butter, softened

4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, softened

4 Tbsp. porter beer

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

4-5 c. powdered sugar

Cream together butter and cream cheese in stand mixer until smooth and creamy.

Add porter and vanilla. Mix until incorporated.

Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until frosting reaches desired consistency. Can add more beer or milk to thin if consistency is too thick, 1 Tbsp at a time.

Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream

This recipe makes enough frosting for 24 cupcakes

1 stick salted butter, softened

4 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened

2/3 c. caramel sauce (homemade or store bought)

2 tsp vanilla

4-5 cups powdered sugar

Cream together butter and cream cheese in stand mixer until smooth and creamy.

Add caramel sauce and vanilla. Mix until incorporated.

Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until frosting reaches desired consistency.

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