Pumpkin Shandy Cupcakes with Ginger Limoncello Buttercream

27 Sep Pumpkin Shandy Cupcakes

IMG_2260

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.

IMG_2221

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?

IMG_2246

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!

IMG_2276

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….

IMG_2266

Pumpkin Shandy Cupcakes

1 box spice cake mix

1 cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)

2 eggs

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

pinch salt

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.

Enjoy!

IMG_2285

Tequila Lime Squares

27 Jul Tequila Lime Squares

IMG_2101

Summertime! The word itself conjures up images of pure fun – swimming, sunning, playing outside, picnics and barbecues – so many awesome things to do! But let’s face it, baking isn’t one of them.  When the temperature soars into the 90s or higher, who wants to be pulling sheets of cookies or pans of cupcakes out of a hot oven, especially when she could be lounging by a refreshingly cool pool? But does this mean no goodies until the fall? Not at all!  Enter the simple square.

IMG_2094

In an era before Pinterest and AllRecipes and Food.com made finding the perfect recipe a quick click away, one of the things my grandmother and I enjoyed sharing with each other was the discovery of an amazing recipe. Because we lived almost 400 miles apart, we had to share these finds originally by photocopying and mailing, and later by attaching to an email. But she always held onto a special recipe or two until I visited so we could make it together. My gram’s lemon square recipe was one such treat, a recipe so simple but so delicious, it remains one of my top go-to summer recipes to this day.

IMG_2088

Squares and bars are the perfect summer dessert. Super easy to whip up, only one pan to dirty, requiring minimal oven door opening. Cover the pan and you’ve got your brownies or lemon squares or cheesecake bars ready to go for the perfect ending to any picnic or cookout. So imagine my delight when I came across this recipe from, believe it or not, food network.com, for Tequila Bars! Light, citrus-y, easy enough to toss together, and with a generous helping of tequila, definitely B.U.I. worthy. I had to give them a try, and I’m so glad I did. A new summer go-to recipe, I’m pretty sure my Gram would approve.

IMG_2079

TEQUILA LIME SQUARES

1 12-ounce box vanilla wafers

1/2 cup pine nuts

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup tequila

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

5 large egg yolks

2 egg whites

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pulse wafers and pine nuts in food processor until well ground.

Add butter and blend until mixed. Set aside 1/4 cup of crumbs.

Press remaining crumbs evenly into a 13 x 9 pan.

Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together tequila, lime juice, egg yolks and condensed milk. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat egg whites and sugar with electric mixer until they hold soft peaks.

Gently fold the egg whites into the tequila mixture.

Spread the filling over the prepared crust and bake for 25 minutes. Cool.

Sprinkle the reserved crumbs on top.

Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight before cutting.

Enjoy!

IMG_2093

 

 

 

 

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes with Sweet Revenge and Limoncello Liqueurs

5 Jul Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

IMG_1992

Summer is in full swing here in the Mid-Atlantic, and we are loving another absolutely perfect, sunny, warm summer weekend. Not a cloud in the cerulean blue sky, just plenty of happy bright sunshine. My bees are busy coming and going, flying here and there, gathering the nectar and pollen they need to provide me with the absolutely best crop of honey around.

One of my favorite things about summer is the abundance of fresh, local fruits and veggies: summer squashes and lettuces and tomatoes, peaches and melons and of course, all the berries. Loads and loads of all kinds of berries – strawberries and blueberries and raspberries – when the berries are ripe for picking, it’s a sure sign summer has begun.

IMG_1969

Strawberry picking has been a rite of summer for as long as I can remember. Of course, back in the day, pick-your-own berries was something we did as way to save a few pennies. My mom would pack all of us in the old station wagon and drive us to the nearest pick-your-own farm, arm us each with our own berry container and send each of us to our own row to begin picking, simultaneously admonishing us to stop eating so many and to “please stop pestering your sister!” We would bring home mounds and mounds of red, juicy strawberries which were macerated for strawberry shortcake or turned into jars of ruby-red strawberry jam, each topped within its own paraffin wax seal.

IMG_2006

Now it costs more to pick your than it does to by them pre-picked at the grocery store, but I still like to head to the nearest berry farm each June to pick a basket or two. Of course, my strawberries are now more likely to get mixed in with some greek yogurt and honey than to be made into jam, and more often than not, I pick way more than I can use. So I freeze some  to remind me of summer when there’s snow on the ground, and I look for different ways to use the rest. Which was how I came up with these yummy cupcakes…strawberries and lemonade, two classic summer favorites, combined in one amazing cupcake, and swirled together for an unbelievably delicious buttercream topping….enhanced, of course, with some Sweet Revenge strawberry liqueur and Limoncello liqueur. Biting into one of these is like tasting the perfect summer day.

IMG_1998

STRAWBERRY LEMONADE CUPCAKES

Because this recipe calls for two different buttercream frostings, I saved some time by starting with a boxed mix, but added in some extras to boost the flavors. Makes approx. 24 cupcakes.

1 box strawberry cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup Sweet Revenge liqueur

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

juice of 1 small lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tin with paper liners.

Combine all ingredients in large bowl of a stand mixer, mixing at low speed for 30 seconds and then at medium speed for two minutes, scraping bowl one or twice. Fill cupcake tins about 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Set aside to cool.

SWEET REVENGE STRAWBERRY BUTTERCREAM

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/4 cup fresh strawberry puree

3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

1 teaspoon Sweet Revenge

Cream butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugar, strawberry puree and Sweet Revenge and mix at low speed until combined, then at high speed until light and fluffy. Spoon into a small pastry bag and set aside.

LIMONCELLO BUTTERCREAM

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

juice and zest of 1 small lemon

3 1/2 to 4 cups confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon Limoncello

Cream butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and Limoncello. Mix at low speed until combined and then at high speed until light and fluffy. Spoon into a separate small pastry bag.

Place both filled pastry bags side by side into one large pastry bag fitted with a large decorating tip. Frost as desired.

Enjoy!

IMG_2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 75 other followers

%d bloggers like this: