It’s the beginning of summer here in the Mid-Atlantic, and for those of us living between the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays, that can only mean one thing – blue crab season is upon us. For those not familiar with the rite of picking crabs, take comfort that the requirements are few: plain brown paper to cover the table, a roll or two of paper towels, a small wooden mallet, a platter piled high with steaming hot Maryland Blue Crabs smothered in Old Bay, and non-stop pitchers of ice-cold beer.
As the locals know, picking crabs is an art form, one that does NOT include bashing the crab to smithereens with the mallet. (This is often how out-of-towners and novices give themselves away.) A practiced crab picker, using only his/her hands, can have a nice fat crab de-legged, de-shelled, and de-lunged, and enjoying a nice juicy morsel of crab meat in a matter of seconds. The mallet, if used at all, is only for the claws.
The proper accompaniment for this feast is beer, pitchers and pitchers of ice-cold beer. This is not the time for a little summer sangria, minty mojito or a bright sauvignon blanc. With crabs, you need something that’s going to go down fast and easy and tame that Old Bay spice. And not just any beer either. As much as I love a good, dark, creamy craft ale, for this job you need something light, refreshing and summery – I recommend the classic Blue Moon Belgian White Ale – with a slice of orange, of course.
It was only a few summers ago that I had my first Blue Moon. It was the perfect summer day, not too hot, plenty of sunshine, when a few of us decided to go out for a little lunch al fresco on the water. As we waited for our order to arrive, we noticed servers bustling back and forth with trays loaded with glasses of beer garnished with orange slices…..orange slices??? Intrigued, we ordered a round for ourselves, and so it was I was introduced to Blue Moon Belgian White Ale. To me, this was a perfect summer ale – not too light, not too strong, just the right amount of body and deliciously refreshing. It still is my go-to summer beer. Perfect for cook-outs, barbecues and of course, picking crabs.
These cupcakes are an homage to my favorite summer ale – Blue Moon infused, orange-flecked yellow cupcakes topped with the perfect orange buttercream frosting. The ale makes the cupcakes nice and light and perfect for the warm days of summer, and best of all, you can eat them in hand, no mallet needed.
BLUE MOON CUPCAKES
These cupcakes start with a box mix. I recommend following the directions on the box, but substituting the amount of water called for with the same amount of beer. I used a Betty Crocker mix for these cupcakes and so I’ve listed the ingredients called for on the box. Other brands may differ slightly.
1 Box yellow cake mix
1 cup Blue Moon Ale
1/2 cup oil
grated peel from 1/2 orange
Combine all ingredients in large bowl of stand mixer. Mix on low for 30 seconds, then on medium speed for 2 minutes. Fill paper lined muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or as directed, until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.
ORANGE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
1 stick butter, softened
4-5 cups confectioners sugar
juice and grated peel from 1 orange
Cream butter in large bowl of stand mixer. Add 4 cups confectioners sugar, orange peel and 1/3 of orange juice, on low speed until blended and then at high speed for 4-5 minutes, adding more sugar and/or juice until desired consistency is reached. Frost as desired.