Float Away

Eons ago when my sister and I were but wee tots and my parents still exercised the authority to restrict my intake of sweets, I remember the harshest restrictions being placed on soda. Occasional candies and chocolates were okay, but soda? Only once a year, on New Year’s Eve were my sister and I allowed the pleasure of the bubbly liquid. If we were really, seriously lucky, we might even be permitted to add the most conservative scoop of ice cream, making the most alluring concoction we could ever imagine with our underdeveloped minds. Only rootbeer would be utilized for such occasions, mind you, lest we consume the evil substance known as caffeine along with this most decadent treat! For years we obeyed by this ruling, until eventually we grew older and [theoretically] wiser, trusted to make good decisions for ourselves, and soda was no longer such an illusive indulgence. In fact, you could say that their well-meaning plan backfired, seeing as I drink soda almost everyday, and rarely rootbeer!

Thinking about this small aspect of my childhood, I wanted to make something special to celebrate a small vacation from school, wherein my sister would get the chance to come and visit for a few days. Hoping that she would remember these past rituals as well as I do, there was little question over what new form I would try to recreate these memories in a more mature form. Not just a simple drink any more, but a real dessert demanding respect and attention. Don’t even think about comparing it to the old fashioned standby, as it has grown up quite a bit from it’s formerly childish embodiment.

That’s right, the newest incarnation of my beloved rootbeer float is now embodied by ever-popular cupcake, albeit much more animal-friendly than the original. A drizzle of ganache provides a bite reminiscent of a hot fudge ribbon, topped by a sweet dollop of vanilla frosting to take the place of melting, messy ice cream. In my opinion, this baby’s got everything you could ever want from this previously juvenile delight, and you don’t even need a straw on hand to enjoy it.

Admittedly, there is a bit more labor involved than the simple soda-and-ice cream float had demanded, but be patient; It’s completely worth it.

RootBeer Float Cupcakes

1 Cup Rootbeer Soda
1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
3/4 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Canola Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Teaspoons Rootbeer Extract
1 1/3 Cups Flour
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a dozen cupcake tins with papers.

Combine the soda and vinegar and let stand for a few minutes. Add in the sugar and oil, whisking vigorously until slightly frothy. Integrate your extracts, and gently introduce the flour, along with the baking powder / soda, and salt, being careful not to over mix. Distributing the batter evenly between the prepared tins, fill cupcake liners approximately 3/4 of the way to the top. Bake for about 18 – 22 minutes. Allow them to cool completely before proceeding to the ganache.


5 Oz. Dark Chocolate
1/4 Cup Soymilk
1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup

Combine the above in a microwave-safe container and nuke for about a minute. Stir thoroughly even if it doesn’t look completely melted – It should come together after a bit of agitation, but if the chocolate still isn’t entirely smooth, return to the microwave for 15-30 seconds at a time, watching carefully to ensure that it doesn’t burn. Drizzle ganache in squiggles over the tops of the cupcakes. [You’ll probably have plenty of left over ganache, but is that a particularly bad thing?] Allow ganache squiggles to fully cool and dry before preparing the frosting.


1 Cup Vegetable Shortening
3 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Soymilk
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Throw room temperature shortening into your mixer, and beat thoroughly until creamed. Add in sugar and start on a low speed so as not to spray powder everywhere. Incorporate soymilk and extract, and combine thoroughly. Apply to cupcakes as desired. Wax nostalgic about childhood memories.

Printable Recipe

46 thoughts on “Float Away

  1. This sounds delicious! I remember rootbeer floats as a special childhood treat too! It is hard to locate Soy based ice ceram where I live, I think that I will attempt this! Thanks for the treat!!

  2. your creations are amazing…and they all look delicious….you are so talented..keep up the great work =]

    and i am also curious, when you tried them, could you taste the rootbeer?

  3. HELLOO!
    Sorry I haven’t been commenting but these cupcakes are too cool! Richard (my bf) LOVES rootbeer. thank you for sharing


  4. oh my they look great. I am going to try them this week for my son and some friends.
    it’s been so long since i have had a root beer float. now i can put it into my favorite thing in the whole world cupcakes…..thanks a bunch!

  5. I am glad I came across your site and this receipe
    sounds great…am going to try it for for family and
    friends here in Singapore.

  6. MMMMM they look yummy me and my friend want to try to make some although im preety shure ill never get my frosting to come out that shape ontop of my cupcakes unless I invest in some heavy machinery! haha

    Thanks for the great ideas.

    Not to try to be a promoter or anything but I just started my own vegan cooking/review blog with a friend so check it out if you get the chance!


  7. I made this for my partner’s birthday on the weekend. The cupcakes turned out lovely – so moist and decadent. Thanks for the recipe. I posted about it on my blog, if you want to see photos.

  8. I’ve been trying to think of a good sweet treat to whip up for my BF for Christmas but it’s been tough. However, he loves rootbeer floats, so this should be perfect! thanks for sharing.

  9. There are a lot of kids in my extended family that I see during the holidays, I know they’ll just love these. Thanks for sharing, they look amazing!

  10. Not only do these look delicious but they sound delicious as well. I’m going to make these and then I will comment on if they live up to there look.

  11. I absolutly luv rootbeer so i KNOW these
    will be GREAT!!!! I cant wait 2 try them!!
    I will absolutly die if I can’t try these
    2moro!!! :) :D thank u so much for telling
    me about them!!! They will hopeful taste
    as good as they look (Im not exactly the
    best cook! :D ).

  12. This recipe sounded great, but the only soda I had in the house was Dr. Brown’s Diet Black Cherry, so I substituted that for Root Beer. In lieu of root beer extract, I used Grenadine, pomegranate syrup. I also used light brown sugar instead of white.

    The batter was a bright pink color and tasted delicious, like cherry soda and yummyness. The cupcakes… sort of. The color darkened to a sort of salmon, pinkish-orangish, and the batter separated a little, so the top seven eighths are that color, and the bottom is sort of tan/brownish. But you don’t see that until after you bite into it. :]

    The taste also mellowed a bit, so it’s pretty much just a super-moist pinkish cupcake with a hint of cherry. If I make it again, I’ll need to play with my proportions a little, I think, and DEFINITELY white sugar to preserve the color. It was a really awesome pink, I must say.

    All in all, great recipe! But where can you get kosher root beer extract?

    (GANACHE: Genius me decided dark chocolate=baking chocolate, and I can replace maple syrup with more Grenadine. Gross. Just gross.)

  13. I just made these tonight and it tasted fantastic! My problem was the batter was a little too liquidy. I’m not sure what I did wrong. The cupcake came out really moist but fell apart really easily. Any ideas what I did wrong?

  14. I tried making these to day and was both happy and disappointed. I was happy because it takes like rootbeer float! It had a wonderful taste when combined with the ganache and frosting. I was disappointed because the cupcake turned out both greasy (when picking it up it soaked through the liner) and very, very dense. This could very possibly be a ‘me’ problem. I followed the recipe to a T. Did you make this at a high altitude, and also what was the weather like? I know those both can greatly affect baking. Any advise would be appreciated, because I would really like these again. Thanks!

    1. I made these cupcakes last night. I made two badges. The first as is was greasy and stuck to the cupcake liners. The I remembered when I used to make pop can cupcakes from a box we always took out the oil. So, I made a batch where I substituted 1/3 C of the flour with cocoa (I added a tiny bit more flour than it called for as well) and went down to just less than 1/4 C of oil. They were much, much better!

  15. […] my palate quite like that combination, inspiring a wide range of spin-offs over the years, the most “famous” of which can more or less lay claim to landing my first cookbook deal. No matter how many times […]

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