This year my husband and I celebrated five years of marriage. It's been a wonderful five years, and I wouldn't change a thing. I always make us a cake to celebrate our anniversary, and since we love beer so much, I wanted to incorporate beer into a recipe this year. Pumpkin beer is one of our favorites, so we decided to sample more than a dozen different pumpkin ales, such as Saranac, Weyerbacher, Fegley's, Long Trail, Shipyard, and Blue Moon, in search of the best. While the ones I mentioned were all good in their own right, they were not the best. I'm pleased to announce that a local pumpkin ale topped the list this year: Stegmaier Pumpkin Ale. It's not too heavy and has a great pumpkin flavor that is accompanied by a nice blend of fall spices. It made us the perfect anniversary cupcakes: pumpkin ale cupcakes topped with salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream—which just so happened to fit this month's What's Baking theme of Baking with Pumpkin or Sweet Potatoes. The results were heavenly!
Pumpkin Ale Cupcakes
Source: adapted from Snappy Gourmet
1 box spice cake mix
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
3/4 cup pumpkin ale plus more for brushing tops (I used Stegmaier Pumpkin Ale.)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cupcake tins with 18–20 paper cupcake liners.
Whisk together cake mix and spices. Add pumpkin, beer, and eggs. Beat on medium speed for two minutes.
Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake for 19 to 23 minutes.
Remove cupcakes to a wire rack and while warm, poke holes in the tops with toothpicks and brush with reserved beer. Cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.
Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Source: adapted from Living Eventfully
6 teaspoons meringue powder
6 tablespoons warm water
3/4 cup sugar
2 sticks butter, cut into 16 pieces (room temperature)
1/4 cup salted caramel sauce
In a large heatproof bowl (or stand mixer bowl) combine meringue powder, water, and sugar. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and transfer to stand mixer.
Using the whisk attachment, whip mixture on high until it holds stiff peaks (about 6 - 7 minutes). Continue beating and add the butter a few pieces at a time. Add salted caramel sauce. Continue beating until buttercream is thick, smooth, and glossy (about 3 - 5 minutes).*
*If mixture starts to look curdled, keep beating.