There are so many strange food holidays, but I must admit that National Root Beer Float Day, which is today, holds a special place in my heart. Because it was almost ten years ago that these vegan root beer float cupcakes began a special friendship.
Something about the photos and the concept lured me in. They were so whimsical and creative, the very opposite of my persona. I began following the blogger who created them and was compelled to reach out. Mutual respect and admiration led to a joint project, the production of a vegan dessert cookbook that was quite successful. These vegan root beer float cupcakes were of course a star recipe within that first title.
The idea of continuing in publishing was a bit daunting for me at that time. Nevertheless, I supported her in the pursuit of other cookbooks, and she’s also gone on to become an amazing food photographer. That very talented woman and beautiful spirit is Hannah Kaminsky. You can see her work here, on Bittersweet, or in one of her other books, like Easy As Vegan Pie, Vegan Desserts, and Vegan à la Mode.
Over the years, this recipe has become buried in our thousands of posts, but today, I’m giving it a refresh. It’s time to raise a glass, or a cupcake, to National Root Beer Float Day and a wonderful friendship.
According to Hannah, “This recipe has become a classic. People usually try it out of curiosity, wondering if the cupcakes will actually taste like a root beer float. But once they take that first bite, their hooked!”
For the most part, these vegan root beer float cupcakes are made with everyday ingredients. However, you may be a little intimidated by the root beer extract. Fortunately, even McCormick makes one, and I’ve seen it at a couple mainstream grocers. But if you can’t find it locally, you can get a bottle with your next order online. Trust me, they’re worth it!
Special Diet Notes: Vegan Root Beer Float Cupcakes
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, nut-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian.
- 1 cup root beer
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
- ¾ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup non-GMO canola oil (or your baking oil of choice)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons root beer extract
- 1⅓ cups flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 5 ounces dairy-free dark chocolate
- ¼ cup dairy-free milk beverage
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
- 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 2 tablespoons vanilla dairy-free milk beverage
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF 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, baking soda, and salt, being careful not to over mix.
- Distributing the batter evenly between the prepared tins, fill the cupcake liners approximately ¾ of the way to the top.
- Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake yields no crumbs.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before proceeding to the ganache.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and microwave on HIGH for about 1 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 the 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 the ganache squiggles to fully cool and dry before preparing the frosting.
- Throw room temperature shortening into your mixer, and beat thoroughly until creamed.
- Add in the sugar and start on a low speed so as not to spray powder everywhere. Incorporate the milk beverage and extract, and combine thoroughly.
- Apply the frosting to the cupcakes as desired. Wax nostalgic about childhood memories.