Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Beer + Cupcakes = A Winning Combination
I attended my first meetup group last night- Iron Cupcake's 1 Year Oktoberfest Cupcake Challenge :Beer. I had never been to a meetup before, nor a cupcake challenge where anybody could enter. Iron Cupcake hosts a cupcake challenge every month where they pick one ingredient that each challenger has to use. This time it was beer, so it was right up my alley.
Although, we did arrive 15 minutes late, the place was packed to the gills with people eating beer flavored cupcakes on the floor, outside, and anywhere there was a spot to sit down. There were cupcakes with names like Allegash Smash, Black and Tan, Irish Car Bomb, Snakebite, Holy Trinity and Your Local Pub to name a few.... There were 21 entries, although my friend and I did not try them all as some were already gone....so we missed out on 4 out of the 21 entries. We also decided that eating 17 mini cupcakes might have us go into sugar shock, so we split each one and literally just had a taste of each for voting matters.
I was a bit disappointed in the beer selected for making the cupcakes. Granted most beers are easier to get than others- but we live in San Francisco, where you can get micro-brews at practically any bodega on the corner. The majority of the beer used was, as you could probably guess, Guinness. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing but when a recipe calls for a Stout, there are plenty to choose from. I think if some people did, it would have made their flavors stand out a bit as I felt that if I tried another Stout/chocolate flavored cupcake I was going to go into chocolate overload. However, there were a few entries that used beers other than Guinness, mostly Hefeweizen (with Blood Orange), Blue Moon(with Orange), Cream Stout (with Marsh mellow topping- yum!), Pale Ale for the Black and Tan with Chocolate Stout, and mad props to the Allegash Smash and for someone using a decent micro brew, (although the taste of the beer was lost with the sweetness of the coconut pecan icing). I was upset that there weren't any Root beer ones left, even though it's not exactly a beer cupcake, the flavors might have been fantastic.
The cupcakes were all over the board in terms of appearance, moistness and taste. Some were as soft as clouds, melted in your mouth, had winning flavor combinations and looked professional- While others were hard as bricks, way too sweet, dry, or just had flavors that overwhelmed your taste buds. My personal favorites were #12, the Irish Car Bomb were you could actually taste the alcohol and had a beautiful ganache middle (great surprise!), and #7, Chocolate Stout with Ganache and Fleur de Sel topping. I am actually not sure which entry won as we were so overloaded with cupcakes we left to go home to digest.
All in all, the experience was pretty amazing. It was just so much fun to try all of the entries and vote on them. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as we did...and how could they not, after all we are talking about beer and cupcakes!