September is a month of transitions. We still have the bright, warm, sun-filled days of summer, but awaken to chilly mornings with just the slightest little nip in the air to remind us autumn is just around the corner. We can still wear shorts and flip-flops, but maybe we’ll trade in that tank top for a long-sleeved tee. The trees themselves reflect this transition, still dressed in bright green leaves, but with a canopy of beautiful reds and oranges and yellows adorning their crowns. And I know I’m not the only one who is starting to look at her oven with love again, appreciating (instead of dreading) the warmth it fills the kitchen with while baking up a batch of some special treat I’ve been waiting all summer to try.
Now is also the time we begin to swap out our Leinenkugels and Blue Moons for the beloved pumpkin ales: Southern Tier’s Pumpking, Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale, and Sam Adam’s (8.5% abv!) Fat Jack, just to name a favorite few. All delicious to be sure, but what a shame there isn’t a way to smoothly transition from those bright, citrusy summer ales of summer to the heady, spicy brews of fall. Or is there?
Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you Traveler Beer Co.’s Jack-O Shandy! As the bottle claims, it’s a fine wheat beer with lemon peel (hence the shandy part) with natural flavors and PUMPKIN added (hence the pumpkin ale bit)! At last, the perfect summer-to-fall transition beer. No more Leinenkugel withdrawals, no more Pumpking spice harsh. Finally, the perfect way to segue from summer to fall, brew-wise. Thanks Travelers!
Inspired by such a delightful shandy, I decided to try a little baking transition of my own. And so I offer for your late summer/early fall culinary enjoyment my pumpkin shandy cupcakes. A light, spicy pumpkin cupcake topped with my delicious limoncello buttercream, topped with a dusting of crushed ginger cookies. These yummy cakes will be the perfect finish to any end-of-season picnic or that first hayride of the fall. But enjoy them while you can. Because like the beautiful fall foliage, pumpkin ale season is short…so many pumpkin ales, so little time….
Pumpkin Shandy Cupcakes
1 box spice cake mix
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
2/3 cup Traveler Jack-O Shandy
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with paper liners – I was able to get about 18 cupcakes.
Mix all ingredients at low speed until combined, then at medium speed for about 2 minutes.
Fill cupcake tins about 2/3 full.
Bake for 17-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Limoncello Buttercream Frosting
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
4 cups confectioners sugar
grated lemon peel
juice from one small/medium lemon
1 – 2 tablespoons Limoncello, or to taste
2-3 Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Cookie Thins, crushed
Cream butter until soft. Add sugar, salt, lemon peel, lemon juice and limoncello, mixing at low speed until combined, then at high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Frost as desired and sprinkle with crushed cookie crumbs.