root beer float cupcakes

It never takes long into the first hot week of the summer for me to get swept up in some sort of dorky nostalgia for a time or place I never knew, in this case, Main Street, U.S.A. with its drugstore soda counters counters, elaborate marble and stainless steel fountains manned by soda jerks serving five cent Cherry Cokes and root beers to bright-eyed youths that always said things like “Sir” and “Ma’am”. Of course, modern times call for modern formats, don’t they? Something you can pack up and bring to a barbecue or picnic? Thus I quickly became consumed with the idea of turning a root beer float into a cupcake; what I struggled to work out were the logistics.

cocoa, butter, root beer
root beer cupcake batter

I started with a root beer cupcake, which was actually a chocolate root beer cupcake, adapted from the Root Beer Bundt Cake in one my favorite cookbooks that I so, so eagerly anticipate the follow-up to this fall, Baked. I was hoping it would make a dozen cupcakes. It made 22. Urp.

root beer cupcakes, ready to bake

cupcakes, cooling

I then spent a ridiculous amount of time pondering the frosting. Root beer foam? It might have been easier if I were Wylie Dufresne. Whipped cream? I liked the idea of it but the problem is that it’s not the most stable frosting. You get an hour, maybe two at room temperature out of it before it starts to wilt and re-liquefy. But the foamy creamy top of root beer floats always reminds me of whipped cream, so it won.

with whipped cream

But something was still missing and so I began digging around my fridge until I unearthed a blazing red jar of maraschino cherries. And I know what you’re thinking, “Deb, don’t you know what is IN maraschino cherries? Are you trying to shorten your lifespan?” but rest assured these are like totally organic and local and maybe even free range. Seriously. All of it. Can’t you tell by the color?

root beer + whipped cream + cherry
with a lot of cherries

I thought they looked much handsomer with cherries on top but still, couldn’t shake the feeling that these cupcakes weren’t yet accurate representations of root beer floats. And so I got out a melon baller (though concluded, minutes later, that the tip of a knife, cutting a small cone out of the top, worked much better)…

scoop a little belly button

And a tiny cookie ice cream scoop (though, of course, a small spoon will also work)…

insert ice cream
root beer cupcakes + ice cream

And then more whipped cream…

root beer float cupcakes

And finally, finally I was convinced that my cupcakes were fitting enough to bear the “root beer float” title. The only thing I forgot to do was take them with me to any of the barbecues I went to this weekend; they’re all hanging out in my freezer, looking cute and getting stared down by this guy every time I open the door.

One year ago: Pesto Potato Salad with Green Beans
Two years ago: Molly’s Dry-Rubbed Ribs
Three years ago: Zucchini Carpaccio Salad

Root Beer Float Cupcakes
Cake adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

A root beer float is a tall glass of root beer with a scoop of vanilla ice cream inside. I tried to turn this into a cupcake a few ways, first with a plain whipped cream frosting (hoping the cream could stand in for ice cream) and then with both whipped cream and a tiny, nested scoop of ice cream. Both are delicious. Neither are particularly portable. The whipped cream is good for two hours at room temperature but the ice cream, only a few minutes. If you’re bringing them somewhere else, I suggest bringing the ice cream and/or whipped cream separately and assembling them on the spot; get others involved, I am sure it could be fun. You could also swap out both toppings for a more traditional, stable frosting such as a Quick Buttercream or a Seven Minute Frosting (my vote, because it tastes like marshmallows).

I also want to note that while the root beer flavor is present in the cakes, it’s not the loudest root beer flavor (unsurprising as most root beers today are pretty subtle). One way to make it more pronounced, as suggested in Baked, is to swap out half a cup of root beer for root beer schnapps, which looks like it is available from a few places online.

2 cups root beer (I used Boylan because it was easy to find and made with cane sugar)
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups heavy or whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pint of vanilla ice cream (you’ll have leftover; you’re welcome)
Maraschino cherries (optional)

Make the root beer cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 22 cupcake cups with paper liners. In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until just beaten then whisk them into the cooled cocoa mixture until combined. Fold the liquid and flour mixtures together in the large bowl. The batter will be slightly lumpy; this is okay. If you overbeat it, it will get tough.

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 to 3/4 full (a 1/4 cup scoop or measuring cup will filled mine perfectly) and bake cupcakes, rotating trays back to front and top to bottom halfway through, until a tester inserted into the center of each comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Assemble cupcakes: Whip heavy or whipping cream with powdered sugar and vanilla until it holds soft peaks. You can do this with an electric mixer, but if you do it by hand, not only will you get a killer arm workout (which you can trade in for a cupcake, very soon), it will be nearly impossible to overbeat the cream. (Which I almost always do with a mixer.)

Use the tip of a knife to cut a small cone of cake out of the top center of each cupcake; feel free to snack on these, I won’t tell anyone. Using a spoon or a small cookie scoop, nest a scoop of ice cream in each indent. Surround ice cream with dollops of whipped cream. Top with a cherry, if using. To keep cupcakes in a holding pattern while you assemble the remaining ones, you can put them in the freezer, but try to do so for no more than 5 minutes or the whipped cream will harden.

Eat immediately.

More excessive detail: The brown paper cupcake liners are from New York Cake and Baking Supply on 22nd Street. They’re also available from many stores online (please do a simple search; I would prefer that the comment section is not filled with links to suppliers). I used a medium round piping tip to make the whipped cream dollops (the size escapes me) but a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will do almost the same job. I used a #70 scoop for the ice cream (about 1 tablespoon) but your 1 tablespoon measuring spoon would do about the same.

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241 comments on root beer float cupcakes

  1. Carole

    I have made the Irish Car Bomb cupcakes a million times and my friends absolutely love them and always tell me they’re the best cupcakes ever. I can’t wait to try something new! Yay!

  2. I too can’t wait for the second Baked cookbook. These are a fantastic reimagining of their idea.

    If you ever find yourself in Central City Philadelphia, there’s a great old time soda fountain there called the Franklin Fountain. They have everything you’re dreaming of, and we make a point of going there every time we visit the city of brotherly love.

  3. This cupcake is ridiculous! I think the cupcake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream is the way to go. This is total BBQ fare! And I’ve made several things from Baked and had no idea they were planning on a follow-up book–can’t wait!

  4. You just reminded me how much I can’t wait for the new Baked cookbook. You introduced me to the first one and my waistline will never forgive you!
    These cupcakes look like the perfect thing to make with all the kids in my family over the 4th of July. I’m saving this one for then…

  5. Elaine H.

    These look fantastic! My boyfriend and I used to go to an old-fashioned style A&W for root beer floats, and I bet he would be a huge fan of these cupcakes. I wish my frosting looked as perfect as yours. Mine always turns out a little lumpy.

  6. Erin in PA

    Oh — yum. As I sit here with a root beer barrel candy in my mouth (no joke) this is definitely something I will be bringing to a summer soiree! I definitely enjoy the root beer schnapps idea too – yummy! As I live in Amish country and many people make their own root beer, I am able to get root beer flavor/ extract too, and may try that as well. Thanks!

  7. Katiepie

    Cook’s Illustrated’s wonderful Strawberry Cream Cake gets around the whipped cream problem by combining it with cream cheese. Definitely adds a bit of tang but makes it very stable and, thus, portable. Also easier to work with.

  8. Francheska

    What’s wrong with maraschino cherries? o_o I ate a zillion of them while I worked at baskin robbins, I would dip a few in chocolate and sit under the counter and eat away, It was nice being the boss in the morning when I had aaaaall the store goodies for myself

    Now this gave me ideas I used to make ice cream cakes almost everyday there, root beer ice cream cake? vanilla coke ice cream cake? yummmm!

  9. Jen

    Yes! Deb. You are a dreamboat.

    I have a question: How could I make this into a cake instead of cupcakes? 8 inch pan? 9 inch? Could I just cool two cakes, put ice cream between them, and then ice the whole thing at the end?

    1. deb

      Jen — It was originally a bundt cake (greased and floured pan, double the baking time). This resource can tell you what other pan sizes can be used to yield the same 12 cups of batter.

      (Also, doink! 12 cups batter… 1/2 cup muffin tins… of COURSE it was 22 — or 24 — cupcakes!)

  10. Elizabeth

    These look very tasty, as always.

    And just FYI, McCormick makes a rootbeer concentrate that would likely amp up the rootbeer flavor in these. I’m willing to bet it won’t shorten my life any more than those maraschino cherries will ;)

  11. Kathy in St. Louis

    I bet one could increase the shelf life by a smidge by scooping those tiny ice cream balls onto a frozen cookie sheet, then plunging it into the freezer until each scoop hard-sets — and then placing them into the prepped cakes. It just might give you a crucial few minutes before you tray them up and present them to drooling guests.

    By the way, I adapted your instant fudge frosting for a two-layer yellow cake yesterday, and it went swimmingly. It was the first time in five years that I had made an elaborate layer cake, complete with piping and fancy writing, and it was great fun. Like Francheska at #26, I used to work at an ice cream shop where I decorated those huge ice cream cakes. The pressure of fulfilling custom cake orders, though, always reminded me that I was working at a job rather than goofing off in my own kitchen!

    Wonderfully inventive recipe, Deb. Yum!

  12. I’ve made this cake as a Bundt cake. It’s incredible. I did find the root beer taste very subtle though. The guys from Baked suggest substituting a half cup of Root Beer Schnapps for the root beer to intensify the flavor. I’ll definitely try that if I’m ever able to find them.

  13. That is a fantastic idea, perfect for a summer wedding, or a summer wedding shower! I actually passed on cupcakes yesterday as it was 90 degrees and I felt it was ice cream weather, but this marries them! How did they taste, though? Was it reminisent of a root beer float?

  14. I wonder if you’d be able to create a stronger root beer flavor by using the spices that make the drink. I’ve got a Trader Joe’s root beer in front of me whose ingredient list features wintergreen, birch, anise, sassafras, and Tahitian vanilla extract. (Then again, looking at that list, your way is probably easier.)

    This is such a great idea!

    1. deb

      Martha — You might get a stronger flavor if you use Trader Joe’s root beer, or it sounds as if you would from all of those intense flavors.

      Btw, this is a fun article about root beer from a couple years ago in the NYTimes. I know that there are more artisanal root beer makers out there today making more intensely flavored ones, but at least for my “testing” purposes I wanted to use one that was fairly readily available.

  15. These are so cute! I love the idea and think “nostalgia for a time or place I never knew” is such a perfect way to explain that feeling a lot of us get. Notice how I left out dorky? :)

  16. I had a root beer cupcake bookmarked for my boyfriend’s birthday later this summer!! I was planning on doing buttercream instead of whipped cream (maybe with root beer vodka to make the flavor a little stronger?), but I didn’t think of adding the ice cream…hmm…

  17. Dana

    Would it be possible to just make this without the choc to give it more of an original rootbeer float taste? Or just use what @Elizabeth suggested with the rootbeer concentrate with a basic vanilla cake recipe?

    I can’t wait to try this! I have found my 4th of July recipe!

  18. Sally

    Excessive detail? I think not! As I was reading the recipe, I was thinking, I wonder what # scoop that is… THANK YOU!

  19. Genius! I just applied at my local cupcake shop in small town Kentucky. If I’m accepted, I will definitely mention this idea.
    P.S. To other commenters, I’ve just started my own blog. I’d really appreciate your comments, thank you!

  20. ROSA

    How about this?
    I listen to on the weekends and she suggested th is to one of the callers that had the same problem with whipped cream. She said we could find it at one of the local (Los Angeles area) restaurant supply places, but I’m sure it’s available in other areas as well. It’s whipped cream stabilizer.

  21. Dawn

    Genius! Another great recipe…thanks, Deb. I’m having a small dinner party this weekend, and I was looking for another dessert to go along with the inside-out chocolate covered strawberries* I have brewing in my brain, and these will be perfect!

    *The strawberries this season have been so humongous and delicious, that my brain can’t stop wanting to pipe them full of dark chocolate ganache. I’m going to experiment with them this weekend. May also do ones piped with marscapone/hazelnut liquer.

  22. Laura

    I have the same summer ‘craving’ … tree-lined sidewalks bordered with American flags traversed by kids on two wheelers with streamers flying from the handles and “late” night (you know before the sun goes down because in the summer you can’t possibly go to bed before the sun goes down) games of ghost in the graveyard while their parents get snockered on boxed wine on the patio.

    You’re post reminded me of one of my all-time favorite books: The Soda Jerk ( It’s poems written from the perspective of a small-town soda jerk. As a kid, I identified with the angst. As a quasiadult, I want to by a float and leave the kid a big tip.

  23. Since my friend is allergic to chocolate (something I don’t wish on my worst enemy), do you think this could be made without the cocoa powder? My instinct is that it won’t be the same, but was just wondering. He LOVES root beer.

  24. linda

    your 3 opening paragraphs were a plethora of info…thanks.

    i love the baked cookbook (& the guys)…& bake a lot of recipes…
    lemon, lemon loaf, banana espresso muffins, brownies…all winners!

    so i am going to try your adaptation -pull up a chair & “pig out!”

  25. What a fantastic idea! OK, you’ve inspired me to recreate my own favorite soda-fountain drink (and yes, I’ve been to a real soda fountain… tough to find, but they still exist, tucked away in funny corners of the midwest). As soon as the mountains of angel food cupcakes hanging out in my fridge are gone I’m making vanilla-cola cupcakes. Cola cake topped with vanilla frosting… should be simple and tasty, right? I’ll let you know!

  26. Over the week-end I made some root beer cupcakes with meringue on top for the foam, also used “cherries” and stuck half a straw in it…I think it was the straw that put it over…yours are much prettier than mine, but they were whimsical & everyone loved them.

  27. This has to be one of the cutest and cleverest idea for cupcakes I have ever seen! I love the little scoops of ice cream, it all just screams summer time.

  28. My mother has been making root beer cookies for years and years. Heinz makes a root beer concentrate – it’s designed for brewing your own rootbeer, but it makes a very root beer-y cookie. The cookie itself is a soft and cakey cookie, with a glaze (flavored with the concentrate, of course) on top. They are my families favorite cookie. The concentrate is readily available in the grocery store in other parts of the country (Idaho and Alabama for sure) and can probably be ordered online – I haven’t looked because I get a bottle in my Christmas stocking every year.

  29. Susan

    You know, I’ve been intrigued by a whipping cream stablizer that was mentioned on the Good Bites site by the guy chef that was demo-ing a cake recipe there (one of the first demo’s on the site) He said you heat a marshmallow for 10 seconds and whip it into the cream. I thought it was so clever..if it worked. I haven’t tried it yet myself, but plan to do so. You might check it out.

    This might work out as an ice cream cake if you bake it in a Maryanne pan, ya think?

  30. When I first read the title I was guessing you had adapted your Irish Car Bomb cupcakes to make root beer float cupcakes. I was wrong. I wonder if root beer schnapps/vanilla extract would work in a butter cream frosting for the topping to make it more portable.

  31. Ann-Marie

    I made this (bundt version from the cookbook) for our Memorial Day cookout yesterday, and OH was it ever a knockout! The cake is very chocolatey-tasting by itself, but once you combine a bite of cake with a little vanilla ice cream, the root beer flavor absolutely takes over. What a marvellous way to bring in the Summer!

  32. diaphinia

    Deb! I devised a rootbeer float cupcake a couple of months ago for a friend who was wondering why such a thing didn’t yet exist! For maximum rootbeery flavor, I used Rainbow rootbeer extract, which I purchased from a local brewers’ supply store. I adapted a red velvet cake recipe and substituted the rootbeer extract (which I could smell THROUGH THE BOX *and* the bottle) for vanilla. It was ACES. Next time, I decided not to make them red, and they actually were a lovely light brown color just from the extract. I frosted with a vanilla buttercream and sprinkled with edible brown glitter. People were eating (them) out of my hands.

    I’m SO not surprised you made these…. But I am also pleased I had the idea, too! LOVE your site, LOVE your food you share. Many of your recipes have become standards for me (just finished leftovers of the warm butternut and garbanzo bean salad). Thank you for doing this site!

  33. Hi Deb! I was going to a friend’s house for a party, and knew my pie would not fit in the fridge. Turns out (long story short) if you mix some gelatine in the whipping cream, it will hold for hours. The hostess’ sister’s whipped cream was soup, but mine was still perfect after 3 hours in a hot house in winter. I would not leave any of this out in the sun though, so for an outdoor party they would either need to be frozen or be garnished when served. Nothin’ like rancid cream!

  34. A Seattle Cook

    I’ve used that Oetker stabilzer with a lemon curd cake that is frosted with a whipped cream frosting. It REALLY helps and has no taste to it. It is in my grovery store in the pudding/jello aisle.

  35. Melissa Lott

    My son turns 2 tomorrow and I have been trying to find a great and fun recipe for his party, thank you I think I found it!!!

  36. Andy

    Sometimes, though we don’t know each other and likely never will, I think we might be kindred spirits. I was just thinking today of some kind of root beer laced cakey thing. It’s curious how often it happens that I’m looking for a specific, brilliant recipe and BAM it’s right here on smitten kitchen. These look really happy.

  37. Root beer floats are hands down my favorite drink. There is a really cool restaurant here in Ottawa, Canada, that sells old fashioned drinks with the striped straws. I love it. Your cupcakes are just the thing I need! Thanks for the recipe.

  38. Liz

    Deb, did you know that Smirnoff makes Root Beer Vodka? I have a sneaking suspicion that it may be fabulous poured over some vanilla ice cream…just sayin’.

  39. donna hires

    my husband’s great grandfather started hires root beer many years ago. although we haven’t been able to find it on the east coast recently, we are still hoping to find it somewhere. in the meantime, i’ll have to whip up these cupcakes and see what the current generation of “hires” thinks of them. and if anyone knows where i can find hires root beer, let me know!

  40. kwon jiyong

    maybe you could mx some root beer into the ice cream or whipped cream, too give it a more root beer taste :)

  41. I made root beer float cupcakes yesterday for two different barbeques that I attended, and while I have yet to find root beer extract in any market within a 20 mile radius of my house, I hear that it does exist and I’m sure it would add quite the punch of sarsaparilla to the cupcakes. I usually use root beer in mine, since I can’t find the extract.

    Also, before frosting, I mix up a runny icing of root beer and confectioner’s sugar and spoon a bit over the cakes, which adds a bit more root beer-y-ness to them.

    Thanks for the lovely blog you keep!

  42. Amanda

    Williams-Sonoma has Root Beer Syrup right now. All natural and whatnot, from Sonoma Syrup Co. Makes fantastic soda, and homemade root beer ice cream. Wonder if you could use this to get a super duper root beer flavor? I’m assuming most of the water cooks out of your cake anyways?

  43. Deb,

    I recently made a huge cake for my boyfriend’s party that needs to withstand warm temperature for a long period of time. Incorporating gelatine into whipped cream stabilizes it.You don’t need a lot, just 1/2 tsp powdered gelatine swelled in a splash of water and ‘bain-marie-d’ till all dissolved. Then whip the cream and dribble the gelatine in when it’s soft peaks. A melon baller works really well too when making mini ice cream scoops, check and here

    I am loving the cupcakes and will definitely try it out! They look great Deb!

  44. Beautiful recipe Deb! Such a good idea! I wonder if I could try something similar with ginger beer? Hmmm…

    PS. Local organic free-range maraschino cherries? Awesometown.

  45. I’ve been wanting to make a root beer float cupcake ever since I bought a bottle of root beer extract from McCormick about a year ago, but hadn’t yet figured out the logistics. Thanks for doing most of the hard work. I was thinking of throwing some extract in the flavor the cream, though, for more of that root beer/ice cream foam taste.

  46. Oh my GOOOOOOOSH! This opens up so many worlds! People should start making CUPCAKES out of DRINK FLAVOURS! I can think of so many – mainly alcohol-related (odd, because I don’t DRINK alcohol…), stuff like piña colada, cola float, milkshake, green smoothie… Okay maybe not that last one, but still. You could have beverage cupcakes! :D:D:D


  47. Love the detail you put in to making these cupcakes just right. Did you say free range maraschino cherries…tell me that was a joke. Do they really make such things?

  48. Rochelle

    I used a whipped cream cheese frosting for some cupcakes not long ago which was basically a combination of whipped cream and cream cheese frosting. If you add some vanilla to it, it could more of the flavor and consistency of vanilla ice cream. If/when I decide to make these, I will probably try that.

  49. Susie

    Deb, something’s gone wrong with your RSS feed … it wouldn’t show up on my reader and when I deleted it and tried again, all that was available was comments, tips, and sk baby (which I hadn’t seen — how great is this?). But no regular feed to show me what’s new. I’ll find you one way or another, though.

  50. nan

    Reminded me of the root beer ice cream my dad used to make during those long summer nights as a kid…Gale Gand has a dandy root beer cake – it’s one of our favs because the flavor is so distinctly root beer…I love the idea of the ice cream scoop in the center- will give this one a try on July 4th.

  51. hi deb! love this site + can’t wait for the book. you got a big fan in Romania!
    Do you think i can sub the root beer with ginger ale? it’s the only thing i can score around here. thanks, kisses

  52. Root beer float cupcakes – absolutely fantastic! I live in the UK where root beer basically doesn’t exist, but every time I go back to Canada for a vist I have to have an ice cold root beer no matter what the season. Root beer floats bring back memories of hot summer days and just being a kid. Thanks for that!

    Oh, and I will try the cupcakes if I can get someone to bring me some root beer when they come to visit…

  53. I live in France and Root beer doesn’t exist at all here.
    I was outraged by my friends reaction towards it when I shared some of the precious beverage that I had brought back with me, yes brought back.
    It reminded all of them of some nasty medicine they were forced to take as children.
    Their loss.
    I’ll enjoy this recipe all by myself

    Whenever I get back to the US!

  54. Hi, I’ve been a long time lurker on your blog, and I live with a family of vegetarians that don’t eat eggs, or use factory sugar in general and like gluten-free desserts – however my parents are die-hard root beer fans. Is there any way to turn this recipe into a vegan dessert?

    Much thanks if you could help out a young cook :)

  55. Lynn

    Love your concept. Thinking of all your cupcakes in the freezer made me think of making a variant Baked Alaska Rootbeer float cupcake!

  56. Liz C.

    Saw yesterday that you’re going to be contributing to Epicurious Epi-log for awhile! Cool!

    Also: the cupcakes look great! I might have to make them for my upcoming 30th birthday.

  57. Soph

    What a great idea!! So funny – yesterday I went out with my best friend and ended up having a root beer float – I was feeling nostalgic!
    I will try these and will ponder putting this ice cream called PC Root Beer Float Ice Cream (new in Canada ) instead of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Perfect idea for a BBQ I am going to this weekend!

  58. lydiia

    I saw the recipe today and straight away went to get the stuff to make them. Unfortunatly i couldnt find rootbeer(not so common here) so i went for Dr.Pepper and followed the rest of the recipe exact. They turned out soooo well and soooooo YUMMY!!! Thanks!

  59. maxine

    Just made this a month ago for my hubby’s birthday! Got the recipe from joythebaker, who also provides a recipe for the best root beer chocolate frosting ever!

    To the user from the UK, try looking for root beet in an Asian shop.

  60. blindowl56

    I’m gonna try this with my favorite, Hank’s root beer! Oh, I finally stopped in at Baked a couple weeks ago and man, that place is bakery heaven!!

  61. jenniegirl

    These are so dang cute that I’m going to have to figure out how to use a pastry bag…I live by one of the two drug/store soda fountains in the Twin Cities….so adorable-complete with 5 cent coffee ( now let’s see if they can do five cent lattes, right?)The soda jerkers are very nice high school kids, who know they got a good gig… Anyway, the ice cream is fifty cents a cone, and your cupcakes remind me I need to go get a strawberry ice cream soda…NOW.

  62. Love the post. Those cupcakes remind me of being banana splits. I love the idea of filling the centers. Your blog has been an inspiration to start my own. Nothing exciting, but just my little thought on the food world. Thanks for inspiring and one day I hope to scratch the surface of the amazing food blog world you have created.
    Thanks so much for the inspiration!!! Keep it up! Can’t wait for your book.

  63. Diane

    For all you Canadians, President’s Choice has just come out with a Rootbeer Float flavour ice-cream — the perfect ingredient for this recipe. YUM!

  64. PhillyGirl

    Deb, I need to apologize.. I have to admit that I haven’t made one of your actual recipes in a looonnngg time.. BUT.. while I no longer come for the recipes, I come for that GORGEOUS baby!! I love hunting for the links that will take me to the MOST adorable pictures! I truly wish I had taken pictures like these when my now 14 year old was that cute and cuddly!! Sorry to say he has morphed from a truly adorable little boy to a pig with underwear on his floor when the hamper is 10 inches away. ROFL! I pray Jacob always stays fresh, clean, and cute as a button!

  65. I love the book baked! All the recipes I’ve tried from there are amazing. Especially the brownies..Funny thing is I have never tried root beer. Can’t imagine what it might taste like, so I’m really curious about this recipe.

  66. These are absolutely adorable! Too bad I’ve never really liked root beer…Yes, un-American I know. I also hate iced tea and don’t put milk in my cereal. =/ Ahem. The point of that was that I feel a variation brewing in the back of my mind.
    Like Nicole, I’ve recently started posting my forays into the everyday culinary world and your blog has been a huge inspiration. Thank you Deb for all that you do!

  67. I’m at the tail end of a twin pregnancy, and for some reason, the “food” of the moment is root beer. Husband now claims these babies can’t possibly be his (he is German and *hates* root beer) since the root beer craving is so strong… which, um, yeah. Sure. Sorry, darlin’, these babies are assuredly yours, root beer lovers or not! Early on, they caused quite potato salad rage for me, so isn’t that a tick in the ‘German’ column?? Hah.

    Anyhow, my daily intake of root beer (and root beer floats) has hit epic proportions, but tonight, I felt like I had forsaken my favorite dessert long enough (red velvet cupcakes from a local bakery) and decided I would skip the float in favor of a cupcake. And now, I see here that some absolute genius has solved my problem and combined the two. Bless you! (Now, to find someone to pity the poor bed-ridden pregnant lady and bake them for me…)

  68. jai in the UK

    I made these last night, I haven’t decorated them yet, but tasting the flavour of them, I would probably be inclined to use ginger schnapps, as you suggested Deb, or give them a totally different flavour adding vanilla essence, sherry and honey to the chocolate mix would be something that I would definitely do next time

  69. Ann

    Deb, what do you do with all your leftovers? I love that you ‘found’ those beautiful cherries lurking in your fridge. I want your fridge!! Cakes look so great, by the way.

  70. Catherine

    Hi Deb,

    I’ve read and used your site for years but never commented. I’m about to make cupcakes for my son’s 1st birthday party (in Brooklyn), and see that your favorite recipes call for either coffee or – like this one – root beer. Do you have any baby/toddler-friendly liquid subsitution suggestions (I’m not sure the other kiddies will love the root beer flavor. But maybe they will…)?

  71. Mara

    Any thoughts on whether the root beer syrup used to make homemade rootbeer might work to bump up the flavor? These sound SO good.

  72. These look adorable and FANTASTIC! I’m unsure about the chocolate though as I’ve never really liked my root beer floats with chocolate ice cream so I feel like the cocoa would have the same effect…I guess there’s nothing to do but try it!

  73. these are an awesomely delicious idea. just a question though, what other toppings would you recommend to keep the same flavor/idea of the root beer float when they’ll be out in the open for say…3-4 hours?

  74. I’m not one to normally salivate over cupcakes…but…this recipe tempts me to deviate. After recently reviewing a local cupcake shop and marveling at how great the cupcakes looked (and tasted), your cupcakes give me hope that such delicious baking is not for the elite and could indeed be accomplished in my own kitchen!

  75. Nancy

    A thousand thanks! I’ve made Cakelove’s mojito and Nigella’s chocolate Guinness cakes (both excellent) for a friend, but his ultimate fantasy is still “a root beer float in cake form.” As a Whole Foods junkie, I’d use Hansen’s tasty root beer and free-range maraschinos. I couldn’t have tortured, factory-farmed cherries on my conscience.

  76. They look like little bombs of flavor and texture. Root beer foam frosting sounds out of this world. Do you have any other topping recommendations with seasonal fruits?

  77. Sarah

    I made these yesterday with the seven minute frosting. They are out of this world!! So SO sooooooooo good! And so yummy for summer! Thanks! :)

  78. These cupcakes look amazing. I love root beer floats and cupcakes but never thought to combine the two. I love the rich, dark color of the cupcake itself… fantastic.

  79. This cracks me up! My girlfriends and I just made root beer floats the other night and I just recently ordered popsicle molds from Amazon… nostalgia really is kicking in! These cupcakes are darling and I can’t wait try them!

  80. Squidly

    When I saw these, I thought you had read my mind. Friends had a surprise baby shower for me a week ago, and I’ve been sitting on the remnants of a pony keg of rootbeer from it, not being able to get through it all and wondering what in tarnation I could do with it. And then you came through with this gem of a recipe. This morning I whipped up a batch. It was such a simple recipe, but turned out so fabulously. Since I was making these mainly for hubby to take on a camping trip with friends, I didn’t do the whipped cream or ice cream for logistical reasons. What I did do was make a half-batch of cream cheese frosting that i tripled the vanilla in. Wasn’t expecting anything outstanding, hubby just loves cream cheese frosting. But I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor matching up pretty well, and the whole thing tasting just like a float. My 2-year-old and I gobbled some up as soon as they were frosted and were entirely enamored — we had to put them out of sight so as not to eat them all. These are so moist and delicious!

  81. Oh wow. These look absolutely amazing. I have never tried them, but I have seen root beer extracts at my grocery store, and I see that many of the comments mention using it along with or as a replacement for the vanilla extract. I think I will definitely try that.

  82. Carrie

    Hi Deb,

    How do you measure your cocoa? Everytime I measure out cocoa, I think back to my Home Ec class in 8th grade where we were taught to measure heaping teaspoons/tablespoons of it. So when I measure out cups, I always make it a heaping cup but am not sure if that is proper – it doesn’t seem to hurt. Anyway, this is one of those stupid questions that always bug me!

    As an aside, my mom used to cut a hole in the middle of chocolate cupcakes, fill the hole with a dollop of Marshmallow Fluff (not creme), put the lid back on and frost with a buttercream frosting. Wicked good!

  83. Becky

    I love how moist and tender these cupcakes are with really complex flavor. I was taking them somewhere and knew I wouldn’t be able to do the cute ice cream/whip cream/cherry topping (another time for sure!), so I actually did a butter frosting and used root beer instead of the milk and I think it complemented the cupcakes well, it still was just a subtle root beer flavor but was better than a plain frosting I think. Thanks for another great recipe.

  84. Twall

    Very good but not rootbeery enough for me. I think that I would add some root beer extract to kick up the flavor.

  85. Zoë

    I’m making these for my birthday next and had a couple questions about using your 7 minute frosting recipe. 1) To decorate 24 (or 22) cupcakes, how much frosting will I need to make? 2) How long does 7 minute frosting stay stable at room temperature? It’ll probably be about 14 hours from decoration time to eating, and I can’t decorate them any closer to the time when they will be served. Would they be better decorated and then kept in the fridge? Thanks!

  86. Jen

    those looks really enticing! you also do an uncannily great job of filling the cup cake liners so that they bake just to the edge of the paper.

    1. deb

      Zoe — Marshmallow frosting is room temperature stable however it crusts. It will have a dryish exterior. It’s not offensive, I sometimes like the very thin (and it’s very thin) crunch you get, but it is unavoidable if it is out for more than several hours. I haven’t made the frosting before for cupcakes so I haven’t tested the volume. However, another recipe I found online, which uses a very generous amount of frosting on each cupcake (think those towering cupcakes you might see at a coffee shop or grocery store) uses an 8 egg white level (i.e. four times the recipe). Honestly, that sounds crazy to me. I think you could get away with half (4 egg white level), especially if you weren’t looking for them to be frosting bombs.

  87. Hadley

    I just made these just a few hours ago and my family loved them! :) Thanks for the creative twist on an awesome chocolate cupcake. I love your site and have been following you since september! (But never commented) Thanks again!

  88. Chloe

    Deb – These cupcakes totally pulled me out of my bar exam studying blues–thanks!!

    All – I made them with Hansen’s root beer (which is also real cane sugar, and it sounds like it has all the same ingredients as the Trader Joe’s root beer mentioned above)–worked just fine. I wouldn’t say you taste the wintergreen, anise, etc…tastes like root beer and chocolate, and who’s complaining. Not me. Also, just as an fyi to others out there, I got a very dark batter–this gorgeous black lumpy batter. Do not be alarmed if yours looks darker than Deb’s beautiful pictures. Finally, just to add to the great list of whipped cream frosting recipes: My fav frosting recipe ever. It withstands room temp just fine for several hours. I brought it to a bake sale on red velvet cupcakes. It has heavy cream, cream cheese, and mascarpone–intriguing, no? REally good. But I think the straight cream is right on for this recipe.

  89. m.s

    Ohhh…these look delicious, I am printing out that recipe and baking them all for myself (Of course, I may let the rest of my family have just 1)

  90. I’m making these for a picnic right now, albeit in slightly modified form. For some reason no stores near me seem to have Boylan’s Root Beer (or any other root beer sweetened with sugar), so we went for Boylan’s Birch Beer instead. And obviously there’s no way I’m walking cupcakes topped with whipped cream + ice cream to the far side of Prospect Park, but I really wanted to use whipped cream + ice cream, not frosting. So we’re attempting a “top your own cupcakes” spin on it: I’m bringing the cupcakes, a jar of cherries, plus a bag of ice in which I’m keeping ReddiWip (I know, I know) and a pint of vanilla ice cream cool. (I imagine someone at the picnic will have an actual cooler.) We’ll see how this goes — the batter smells delicious, anyhow.

  91. Hi Deb,

    I made these a couple of weeks ago with your Swiss buttercream recipe as the frosting (it was for brunch at a friend’s and I wanted it to be ready-to-eat). It was a hit! We practically swooned after one each, the root beer taste came through.

    The next day I tried the float frosting and overworked the cream with my Kitchenaid. Next time I will take your advice and whip cream by hand! Thank you for the wonderful recipe.


  92. Robin

    Just tried this recipe… I couldn’t find rootbeer schnapps in my local liquor store, much to my chagrin. So I did the recipe with the 2 cups of regular rootbeer as listed. Unfortunately, I can’t detect the rootbeer flavour at all in the finished product. I don’t know if it’s because I used the grocery-store-brand rootbeer, which maybe doesn’t pack the same punch as the type listed in this recipe. Anyway, they’re still fabulous chocolate brownie type cupcakes, and I think I would definitely try this recipe again if I can get my hands on the schnapps to boost the rootbeer flavour.

  93. Ginger

    I’ve been looking for a root beer cupcake recipe for quite a while, and had some pretty catastrophic failures, but these look fantastic, and I can’t wait to try them.

  94. Jennifer

    I tried this recipe from the Baked cookbook & found it delicious as a dark chocolate cupcake, with little to no rootbeer flavor. I made their rootbeer frosting, which didn’t add to it, either (this was before I found this blog). I might try the schnapps next time, which I’ve seen locally. Still, these are very yummy cupcakes, despite their lack of rootbeer-ness.

  95. nurrie

    just tried baking these and it’s yummy! but lacking the rootbeer-ness. and is the cake meant to be a little chewy?

  96. Annie

    I’m making these today for at least the dozen-th time. I make them with gluten-free flour and add 1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum. They are by far and away the most delicious GF baked good I have ever tasted anywhere. Seriously. Full stop. the best. I get compliments on them every time I make them. No one knows they’re gluten free. Moist, flavorful, and they keep far longer than any GF baked good I’ve ever made.

  97. MommyBesieged

    The Boxcar Children’s book series includes a title called “The Cupcake Caper.” I won’t go into the whole story, but let’s just say it involves some very delicious cupcakes with a highly secret ingredient. By the book’s end, the children surmise that sarsparilla (sic?) is the secret to the cupcake’s amazing taste. We are going to try your recipe and see if we get the same stellar results as master cupcake creator Mama Tova in the book.

  98. Amber

    I made these for Father’s Day and they’re a hit, really great flavour and texture on the cake. Added some root beer extract to the batter and used Popeyes candy cigarettes as straws! Thank you for posting this recipe, I’ll be using it again for sure!

  99. Samantha

    Hello Smitten Kitchen. I do my baking for my husband with dairy and egg allergies, and I was wondering what the best egg substitute would be to use in this recipe or for cupcakes in general? I have done experimenting myself with different substitutes but don’t want to take any chances of ruining this recipe!

  100. Michelle

    I am thinking about making these for my wife for her birthday since she loves root beer…but she is allergies to chocolate (the travesty!). Do you think it would work to replace the cocoa powder with flour and then make the recipe as is?

  101. Samantha

    Hello Smitten Kitchen. I do my baking for my husband with dairy and egg allergies, and I was wondering what the best egg substitute would be to use in this recipe or for cupcakes in general? I have done experimenting myself with different substitutes but don’t want to take any chances of ruining this recipe!

  102. MissJubilee

    I made these a year and a half ago with a friend and then had a blast taking the around to coworkers who live in our apartment complex (we all were in Chinese classes in the mornings but free in the afternoons that month). Super fun!

    I was thinking about them again just now and had an inspiration, though my freezer might not be big enough. What about making them, freezing them with the ice cream filling, and then making meringue in small batches each time you want some and doing them like mini-baked Alaskas? They would last for several desserts or small events that way! Or, doing it as a baked Alaska cake rather than cupcakes? It seems so obvious all of a sudden. I love making baked Alaska once every few years, so fun and impressive, as long as you have a crowd to eat it all up right away. Hm maybe I’ll do that on Christmas instead of pavlova!…

  103. What a fun recipe!

    I used oil instead of butter and they came out fine, but probably would be better with butter. I can’t even taste the root beer, so for those who are worried — don’t! They do have a cola after taste though once you’re done eating.

    However, I was afraid to over mix the batter and even though I sifted the dry ingredients, I ended up with spots of white flour in the cupcakes.

    It’s not the best chocolate cupcake recipe, but fun for something different. Definitely not the end of the world, though. Thanks for sharing!

  104. Allie

    I shopped around and couldn’t find any schnapps or extract that I can get in my paws in time for the birthday that this cake was requested for. Do you think if I use more root beer and reduce it to 2 cups before I add the cocoa powder and butter that it would yield a stronger root beer flavor? Should I cut back some of the sugar to compensate for more sugar from the reduced root beer? #help

  105. Shannon

    Ooh, my 9-year-old cupcake baker has been pondering whether root-beer float cupcakes would be possible. His little head is going to explode when he sees this! Also, good excuse to buy high-quality root beer and drink up the leftovers when the kids aren’t around ;)

  106. So I have a fella having a birthday soon whose guilty pleasure is rum and root beer. Could I swap out some of the root beer with rum here? If so, what would be a good amount of rum to start experimenting with? Or is this a Bad Idea?

  107. Sherley Keith

    The Barefoot Contessa’s make-ahead whipped cream completely takes care of whipped cream melt. She adds a tablespoon of crème fraiche, along with vanilla, confectioners sugar and vanilla, and the result is a to-die-for whipped cream that lasts a couple of days in my fridge. See the recipe in Make It Ahead.

  108. Marla

    I made these exactly as written for my son’s second grade class, and they were a HUGE hit! Cupcakes are incredibly boring in my opinion so I was looking for something fun and different to bring to his class. The adults loved them too! I used Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa, and Haagen Daas vanilla ice cream, so that helped. :)
    They were very moist and very chocolaty. I thought the amount of sugar would be too much but it wasn’t and the root beer was the perfect amount as well. To be honest, I didn’t care for the root beer I chose, but the distinct flavor of it didn’t ruin or overpower the cupcake. (I used IBC root beer w/ cane sugar.) This recipe was also a lot of fun to make! A perfect kid pleaser!

  109. Pam Moore

    Just one question: could you make these without chocolate? If so, what might be used instead of 1 cup of cocoa powder?

  110. Sarah Baribeault

    Just made these for the second time. I added 4 or 5 tsp of Root Beer extract. It really kicked up the Root Beer flavor.
    I enjoyed the recipe the way it was, but my 6 y.o. son wanted more Root Beer flavor.

  111. Katrina

    I wanted more root beer flavor here! The chocolate flavor was really more pronounced. Regardless, we devoured them. Because I wanted these to be a little more shelf stable, I used Deb’s 7-minute frosting, which really stole the show. Just like marshmallow!

    I also halved this recipe, and got an even dozen.