Saturday, January 28, 2012

(Belated) Thirsty Thursday: Root Beer Float, and Root Beer Cake!

I was having a sweets craving the other day while perusing the aisles of our local wine emporium (not exactly the most normal place to crave sweets)...thankfully, this store also carries the full line of Louisiana's famous Abita brews, so I skipped the wine & bought a six-pack of Abita Root Beer. One of my favorite things on this planet.

My husband & I are both big root beer fans--we even had a root beer float bar at our wedding as our "signature drink" (which people seemed to really appreciate since it was about 100 degrees outside).

"It's hot out here. Let's go get a root beer float."

I had reallllly wanted to use Abita for our wedding, but it was cost-prohibitive since we can't readily get kegs of Abita up here, and at a buck a bottle (times 150 guests), we had to go with generic two-liters (BIG sad face.) They were still nice and refreshing...just perhaps not AS refreshing as Abita would have been. :)

Wanting to reminisce about our big day with my hubs, I snagged that six pack & headed home, where a pint of vanilla ice cream was already waiting.

Even used leftover straws from our wedding!

And they were DEE. LISH. USS. I think the only way it could have been better would be if I had chilled the mugs first (and snagged pre-refrigerated bottles... it wasn't as ice-cold as we would have liked). But we were too impatient to wait for all of that. ;)

Though Abita has only been around since the mid-80's, Louisiana has a long history of cranking out delicious root beer. There's the infamous Dr. Nut, created and bottled in New Orleans, LA in the 1930's, which John Kennedy Toole references in "A Confederacy of Dunces" as the protagonist's favorite drink. Dr. Nut was an "almond flavored" soda produced originally by the World Bottling Company which was bought out by the Wright Root Beer Company. The business went under in the mid 60's, but after the rise of Toole's popular book, a company in Jennings, LA started bottling a soda that they called "Dr. Nut" in 1977; however it was a cherry cola and there were enough people around who knew what Dr. Nut was SUPPOSED to taste like that the product was a failure & folded about 10 years later.

Then there's Barq's root beer...but not the Barq's we know & love today. The Barq's company originated in New Orleans in 1890 by two brothers--in 1897, one of the brother's moved to Biloxi & opened a second bottling plant there. Barq's root beer began appearing around 1900. In the 1930's, the FDA made some changes to the definition of "root beer", and the original Barq's recipe had too high of a caffeine content to fall into the category. The Mississippi Barq's bottlers changed their recipe to comply with the new standards, while the Louisiana side just removed the phrase "root beer" from their bottles & kept the old recipe. Eventually, another company bought out the Mississippi Barq's, and a long running battle went on between the two companies until Coca-Cola acquired both in 1995.

And of course you can't forget Zatarain's...yes, the same Zatarain's that makes those rice mixes in your pantry. Their first ever product in 1889 was root beer. You can still buy Zatarain's root beer extract in some parts of the country (or off their website).

And there's Rex root beer from the 60's and 70's, bottled in Gretna, LA... they were originally produced by the New Orleans Bottling company (which was eventually bought out by Coca-Cola...always gotta corner the market, jeez...)

And then there's one of my favorites: Frostop. Now--Frostop doesn't have it's origins in Louisiana--it was started in the 1920s in Ohio. Frostop was a drive-in diner style place where you could score a delicious Lot-O-Burger and a frosty mug of root beer that had been made there at the diner. Most of these diners have since disappeared and bottled Frostop is hard to find (I snagged a couple bottles when I found it at Big Lots last year). However the diners are still alive & well in Louisiana, with locations in New Orleans (Claiborne Avenue), Baton Rouge (Government Street downtown), Thibodaux (Canal Street), LaPlace, and Raceland (Highway 1). The diners are easily identifiable by the giant neon-lit frosty mug on top of the buildings:

LaPlace location at night:

New Orlean's location during the day:

Katrina knocked the mug off its pole, and they've left the mug upside down where it landed as their new trademark.

Okay, I've crammed enough history down your throat. Howsabout a cake recipe?

This is another one I got off Pinterest last year from Joy the Baker. The original recipe has a recipe for homemade root beer icing--which we did not make because we don't have any powdered sugar in the house. So I'll let you reference the link if you want to snag that recipe.

The original also makes her cake as a bundt cake. However, I prefer to make cupcakes because then you're not as tempted to overindulge. Everything's already portioned out, so you can grab one & go & know how many calories are in that one serving.

1 large egg
1 cups root beer (don’t use diet)
1/2 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup applesauce (replaces the butter in the original recipe)
1/2+ 1/8 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon root beer extract (I added this because the flavor of the chocolate was kind of overpowering the flavor of the root beer. I would of course recommend using Zatarain's extract if you can find it.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (gives it more of that "float" taste)


Go cook some rice. (No, just kidding. No rice in this one.) :D

First: Preheat the oven to 325*F and insert muffin liners into your muffin tray (or grease your muffin tin if you don't have liners). This will make enough for 12 cupcakes.

Next: Beat your egg until well blended, then add the other wet ingredients + the cocoa powder to the bowl. Mix thoroughly.

Add the baking soda and salt, mix.

(I'm going to pretend it didn't take me 6 tries to get this action shot of the Kitchenaid.)

Then slowly add your flour. Don't over mix or the cakes will end up a bit tough. It's okay if it's a little lumpy.

Next: Use an ice cream scoop to portion the batter into the muffin tin.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from the tin & let cool on a baking rack.

Now, as I mentioned before, the original recipe came with instructions for how to make icing as well. We did not go that route--rather, we had some white frosting in the house, so I mixed a bit of the root beer & root beer extract with that & glazed the tops of our cupcakes with that. The frosting will become much thinner, so refrigerate it for a while after mixing. Then glaze each cupcake with about a teaspoon or so.

NutriFacts: (per cupcake, with icing)

Calories 160.0
Total Fat 2.6 g
Saturated Fat 0.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.9 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.8 g
Cholesterol 15.4 mg
Sodium 178.5 mg
Potassium 95.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 35.3 g
Dietary Fiber 1.5 g
Sugars 25.0 g
Protein 2.3 g

1 comment:

  1. Root. Beer. CAKE? OMG, I think I am in love.