Someone sent me a recipe years ago for something called "Diet Cake". It's ingredients consisted of 1 package of reduced sugar cake mix, and 1 can of Diet Coke. I never made this cake because to be frank it sounded foul. But the idea stuck with me. So much so that the other day it occurred to me, what about using a spice cake mix and instead of a diet coke, a delicious pumpkin beer?
It occurred to me also that this might be the greatest idea I have ever had.
First of all, I had to pick a great pumpkin beer. Something really pumpkin-y (i.e. made with real pumpkins) with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg and maybe some cloves. I went to Marty's in Newton on my lunch break and perused their pumpkin offerings (of which there are many!). Ultimately I decided on Cisco Brewer's Pumple Drumpkin Spiced Ale since I had never tried it but had heard great things about it, and also due to the fact that it is a New England beer and it did not hurt matters that I love the label design!
Now second, it wouldn't be right to use this beer in a recipe without tasting it right. So I poured some for Adam and myself and we gave it a try.
Of all the pumpkin beer I have drank in my life, this is my favorite so far. Delicious rich tasting pumpkin ale with strong spicy notes that tastes like how it feels to jump into a pile of leaves after an afternoon of apple picking and pumpkin carving. Too sentimental for you? Sorry but a good pumpkin ale brings out the poet in me what can I say? Adam, who tends not to love fruit beers or the like, loved this as well and ranked it right up there with his new fave, Shipyard's Smashed Pumpkin which is high praise indeed!
So after determining this beer would be perfect in my cupcakes, I set about making them. The ingredients could not be easier.
Pumpkin Ale Cupcakes
(yields 20 cupcakes)
1 package of spice cake mix
12 oz Pumple Drumkin Spiced Ale (or whatever pumpkin beer you love)
1 container of cream cheese frosting
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Combine the cake mix and beer (adding it slowly) in a mixer and blend on medium for 2 minutes. Spoon into cupcake tin (you will want to fill them 3/4 of the way). Bake according to package directions.
Once baked, let cool thoroughly. Combine frosting with spice and vanilla (I find this trick really gets rid of the "store bought" flavor and fools people into thinking you made the frosting yourself!). Frost the cooled cupcakes and then chill an hour before serving.
What is great about these cupcakes is they actually retain some of the "beery" taste. While richly pumpkin-y and spicy, there is the faint taste of malt and spice beneath the sweetness that makes these cupcakes a real treat . Now I wouldn't necessarily make these for your child's Halloween party but any adult who appreciates beer and cupcakes will love these for sure!