These sweet, spiced cupcakes and cool whipped cream frosting contain a secret ingredient – pumpkin beer!
One of the things I like best about living in NY is the change of the seasons. Growing up in California was amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I was able to wear my Catholic school skirt year round, never experienced a white Christmas, and missed out on all of the great things that the fall brings – the changing of the leaves, backyard bonfires, hoodies paired with flip flops, haunted hay rides, and one of my current favorites: pumpkin beer.
If you’ve never had pumpkin beer, do me a favor and go buy some RIGHT NOW. Here in NY, we’ve got a ton of different pumpkin craft beer options, but even if your hometown grocery or liquor store doesn’t carry many fall selections, you can still find offerings by national brands like Sam Adams, Shock Top, and Blue Moon to satisfy your craving. Some pumpkin beers have just a hint of pumpkin and others are ripe with a bold, full-bodied taste, while some are traditionally beer-tasting and others are like dessert in a cup. If you’re a pumpkin beer beginner, I would advise heading to your local specialty beer shop and asking for recommendations, or your trusty friend Google is always a great tool.
The advantage of baking with pumpkin beer is that it provides a non-oily liquid substitute that is not overly pumpkin-y. This results in moist, airy cupcakes that aren’t laden with a ton of heavy ingredients and have a light but well-spiced pumpkin taste.
I used Southern Tier Pumking (http://www.stbcbeer.com/seasonals/seasonal-imperial/pumking-beer-page/) as my pumpkin beer of choice for these cupcakes. This beer is SO good and so popular during the fall that one of our local beer bars (they have over 100 beers on tap) features 4 different Pumking varietals – two from 2012, one from 2013, and this year’s brew. I actually used a bottle from my fridge that I purchased last year, and this beer definitely gets better with age. The combination of pumpkin taste with hints of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg makes this my all-time favorite pumpkin beer, and it was perfect in these cupcakes.
When I first had the idea to formulate cupcakes baked with pumpkin beer, Google showed me that there were a few recipes already out there, but they all featured a cream cheese-based frosting. I paired my cupcakes with a pumpkin whipped cream frosting that’s more reminiscent of whipped cream-topped pumpkin pie. My frosting does contain some cream cheese, which is just enough to hold the shape of the whipped cream so that it doesn’t deflate, but does not affect the cool, light taste. There’s also a small amount of pumpkin beer in the frosting, which adds a hint of spice and pumpkin flavor. Feel free to omit the beer from the frosting if you’d prefer, since the alcohol won’t cook off like it does in the cupcakes.
The best part about this recipe is that it does not use the entire bottle of pumpkin beer. Bottoms up and enjoy!
- 2 c. flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
- ½ c. butter, softened
- ½ c. sugar
- ½ c. brown sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 c. canned pumpkin
- ½ c. pumpkin beer
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- ½ c. sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 c. (1 pint) heavy cream
- ¼ c. pumpkin beer
- ½ c. canned pumpkin
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Line 2 cupcake pans with liners.
- Prepare the cupcakes by combining the flour, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice/cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Cream butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl with an electric mixer.
- Add eggs and canned pumpkin and continue beating until smooth.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients and pumpkin beer, alternating with each addition and continuing to beat until fully incorporated.
- Spoon approximately ¼ c. of batter into each cupcake liner until you've filled all 24 spots.
- Bake cupcakes at 325 degrees for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
- Cool cupcakes for 10 minutes in their pan, then transfer to a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.
- To prepare frosting, beat softened cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer in a large bowl until whipped and smooth.
- Increase the mixer's speed to medium and slowly add the heavy cream,
- Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then continue to mix on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add pumpkin beer and canned pumpkin and beat on low speed until combined.
- Frost cupcakes as desired.
- Store cupcakes in refrigerator and eat within 2 days.