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.

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.

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.

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