Award-Winning Ginger Root Beer Float Cupcakes

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On Sunday, I shared the story of my first baking competition at the Sacramento Chef Challenge. I developed this Ginger Root Beer Float Cupcake recipe to fit the “Hot Summer’s Night” theme and also incorporate the secret ingredient, ginger. I tried different combinations of ginger beer, root beer, fresh ginger, and ground ginger, and I found that root beer and ground ginger came together for the best flavor.

I tried several brands of root beer and settled on Capt’n Eli’s Root Beer, which I found locally at Nugget Market. It’s sweetened with cane sugar and has wintergreen oil, anise, vanilla and other spices and flavorings, which gives it a strong, spicy root beer flavor. The cupcakes came out extremely moist and light, with a strong root beer flavor at first and lingering ginger aftertaste.

I topped the ginger root beer cupcakes with a vanilla bean buttercream frosting that tastes like vanilla ice cream. This is a winning recipe – literally. The professional judges and 1,000 event attendees voted that this was the top cupcake out of all the contenders, including ones from professional cupcake bakeries.

If you want to read more about my saga of baking 350+ cupcakes in my home kitchen in 2 days, plus how we incorporated the theme into a display (a mini drive-in movie theater for cupcakes), visit my last post Battle Cupcakes: My First Baking Competition.


Ginger Root Beer Float Cupcake

Adapted from Serendipity Mommy

Makes 12 cupcakes

  • 1 cup root beer (I used Capt’n Eli’s Root Beer)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 tsp root beer concentrate
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground ginger*
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°F and line cupcake tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine root beer and vinegar and let stand for a few minutes. Add sugar and oil, then whisk until mixture is slightly frothy. Pour in vanilla extract and root beer concentrate and whisk until combined.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour with baking soda, baking powder, ground ginger and salt. Pour into root beer mixture and whisk until ingredients are just combined.

Fill prepared cupcake tin by pouring 1/4 cup batter into each liner (until 3/4 full). Bake for 15 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back lightly when touched and/or tester comes out clean.

*You can omit the ginger if you prefer a plain root beer cupcake, but I promise it’s really good! :)


Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Adapted from Cupcake Project

Makes just enough to lightly frost 12 cupcakes – if you like a lot of frosting, double this recipe.

  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste

Beat butter and powdered sugar together for several minutes until well combined and creamy. Add vanilla bean paste and mix until well combined.

Note: if you beat the frosting for several minutes, it will come together and become creamy. If needed, you can add a tablespoon of milk if it’s too thick.

24 Responses to “Award-Winning Ginger Root Beer Float Cupcakes”
  1. Kachet writes:

    Wow! These look incredibly tasty. Congrats on your win!

  2. Stephanie writes:

    @Kachet – thank you! :)

  3. Battle Cupcakes: My First Baking Competition - 52 Kitchen Adventures | 52 Kitchen Adventures writes:

    […] 7/3/12: The recipe is now published – see my Award-Winning Ginger Root Beer Float Cupcakes post. /* Share […]

  4. David writes:

    Thank you thank you thank you, cant wait to make

  5. Ayesha writes:

    I will definitely try……Congratulations!

  6. Malisa writes:

    I am so excited to try these cupcakes. My husband absolutely loves root beer and these will be perfect. In our trials of all root beers, Captain Eli’s is a tasty choice! Congratulations on winning, Stephanie.

  7. Luli writes:

    I can’t wait to try these!
    Luli recently posted About Me

  8. Stephanie R writes:

    Sounds delish!
    What do you think about the idea of turning this into an ice cream cake, especially using a homemade (or least gourmet-quality if store-bought) vanilla bean ice cream between the ginger root beer cake layers?
    (Or just make the cupcakes as-is since they are so cute with the little stripped straws like mini-float cups, and just serve with vanilla ice cream!) :)

  9. Stephanie writes:

    @ David, Ayesha, Marisa, Luli – thanks! I hope you all enjoy :)
    @Stephanie R – I had that same thought! If I were entering Cupcake Project’s Ice Cream Cupcake Contest this year, I would have added vanilla ice cream to this and submitted it (I’m a judge this year so I can’t enter).

  10. Amy from Appetite for Discovery writes:

    Congrats on the win! Sounds like it was very well deserved – 350+ cupcakes in 2 days!!
    Amy from Appetite for Discovery recently posted Paleo Cherry, Almond & Coconut Pie

  11. Susan writes:

    What an interesting recipe…I’m glad that Ellen (Baking with Booze) listed your site; we have a lot in common! XOXO

  12. David writes:

    Hey Steph,

    You have inspired me to start a blog, see my web address, only one post on there so far would appreciate a read. Any tips for successful blogging would be great.
    David recently posted Deliciously Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

  13. Stephanie writes:

    @David – I’m so happy I inspired you! I’ll go visit your first blog post now :)

  14. Becca from It's Yummilicious writes:

    I am SO thrilled to hear that your adventure turned out to be a great one, Stephanie! WOOT WOOT! Way to knock ‘em out of the park
    Becca from It’s Yummilicious recently posted FUN WITH FOOD – Hot Dog Splits

  15. Stephanie writes:

    @Becca – thank you so much!! :D

  16. Janelle writes:

    The only root beer float cupcakes I’ve ever seen were chocolate cake with root beer in it, and it wasn’t a strong enough root beer flavor. I’m excited to try these.

  17. Shumaila writes:

    Congratulations on the win! Looks like all that effort you put into them paid off! Pinning it to hopefully try them out one day!
    Shumaila recently posted August SRC & Recipe Swap

  18. How to Frost a Rose Ombre Cake | 52 Kitchen Adventures writes:

    […] Sweetapolita’s fluffy vanilla cake, which made 3 6-inch layers and used about 3 batches of my vanilla buttercream frosting (the recipe is also posted below the […]

  19. Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Browned Butter Frosting | 52 Kitchen Adventures writes:

    […] fallen in love with several over the years. (Nutella buttercream, salted caramel frosting, and vanilla bean buttercream to name just a few.) However, this frosting may trump them all. It’s a buttercream that […]

  20. Christy A writes:

    No eggs? Typo or correct before i make these :)

  21. Stephanie Nuccitelli writes:

    Christy, it’s correct–no eggs needed.

  22. Kathy G writes:

    I recently made your delicious rootbeer cupcakes. I actually lost count on how many compliments I received. They are unbelievable! Thanks for making my desert buffet a hit!

  23. candice writes:

    Hi Steph, was so in love with your cupcakes that you have made! Feel like trying it!
    Would like to check with you how long did you allow the root beer and vinegar to stand for in step 2? Like how many minutes in particular?

    thank you!!

  24. Stephanie Nuccitelli writes:

    Candice, 2-3 mins should be enough. Hope you enjoy the cupcakes!

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