So, here is the recipe for my Cupcake Camp Seattle submission. Some of the ingredients are a bit on the weird side, but not impossible to duplicate with “close enough” items from your local grocery store. To explain the brewing process: aside from water, the ingredients of beer are hops, malted barley, and “specialty grains.” You add these things at various stages in the boil, then cool it and add yeast, then let the yeast eat those sugars and leave lovely alcohol in their wake. Specialty grain is just varying grains, but usually mostly more malted barley, that you steep (like tea) to add special flavors to the beer. You add roasted malt to porters and stouts, which is why they have notes of chocolate and coffee, it’s the same roasted taste. The main cake recipe involves these grains. For the filling, I actually found malted barley syrup (similar to what’s used in brewing) in the sweetener section of my grocery store. It tastes a lot like caramel…well, caramel and plain ovaltine. Which, if you can’t find malted barley syrup, is what I recommend you use. Lastly, hops are an intensely flavorful flower, associated with the bitter taste in beer. For the frosting, I recommend sticking with IPA because it’s so hoppy. Frankly, while my hubby loves the stuff, it’s normally way too hoppy for me. But with all the other sweetness surrounding it, it just gives a nice floral twist to the frosting that’s really, really nice. When you use the beer, you can choose to boil it, if you want to reduce the alcohol content and/or make the beer taste stronger, but it isn’t necessary, and even helps add fluff to the glaze.
As far as decorating, I baked these guys in straight-walled shot glasses. With the color of the cupcake and the semi-liquid consistency of the frosting/glaze, it makes it look just like a pint of your favorite ale with a frosty head on it…only tinier. And less frosty, more frosting. On the side, I used melted chocolate to make logos of our favorite local microbrews on the glass. If you want to go this route, remember to grease the shot glasses before adding the batter, thoroughly wiping off the outside before decorating, and when serving them provide something to get the cupcakes out (I used wee bamboo forks, used for serving appetizers).
Makes about 12 normal-sized cupcakes– adapted from Martha Stewart
× 1 cup + 1 tbsp Specialty grain*
× ½ cup + 2 tbsp flour
× ½ tsp baking powder
× ⅛ tsp baking soda
× 1 heaping tsp ground cinnamon
× ¼ tsp salt
× 6 tbsp butter, room temperature
× ¼ cup sugar
× ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
× 1 egg
× ½ tsp vanilla extract
× ½ cup Beer, of your choice, I used a Scottish ale because we had loads of it and it’s one of my favs
*If you use spent grain (grain that’s already been used for brewing), then you should try to dry it out as best you can. It doesn’t have to be perfectly dry, but there is such thing as too moist. Also, if you don’t happen to homebrew, or don’t want to go to a brewing store, you can choose another grain. Oatmeal would work, as this is based on a recipe using oatmeal, and maybe use stout as the beer for oatmeal stout cupcakes!
Malted Barley Filling
× Ovaltine OR Malted Barley Syrup
× Caramel (optional with syrup)
× 4 oz cream cheese
× ¼ cup India Pale Ale (or another beer of your choice)
× 1 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Combine oatmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a food processor and run for about thirty seconds. The point is to grind up the oatmeal a bit for a smoother texture, but not so much that you lose that distinctive oatmeal cookie texture.
- Cream butter and sugars in a stand mixer on medium speed until pale. Add egg, vanilla, yogurt and beat until fully incorporated. The beer doesn’t incorporate very well, so add this last, beat it as best you can, and move on
- Add dry mixture to wet mixture and stir until it is just combined. The mixture should look like a goopy cookie dough; thick, but still wet and sticky. If you used spent grain, at this step you might find the need to add more flour if it looks particularly runny.
- Place a heaping spoonful into cupcake liners. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. The tops will not brown.
- For the filling, either just use malted barley syrup or a combination of the syrup or plain ovaltine and caramel to taste. To fill, either cut a cone in the top of the cooled cupcakes and fill, or using a squeeze bottle pipe the malt/caramel sauce into the middle of the cupcakes.
- For the frosting, soften the cream cheese, then blend in beer. Add sugar a spoonful at a time. If you want it thinner, add more beer, thicker, add more sugar. If it doesn’t taste beer-y enough, go ahead and add more beer and powdered sugar, to increase the flavor and maintain the consistency.