When I went to San Francisco recently I had a small mission to accomplish: buy Root liquor. Root is a traditional spirit produced by a group of Philly artists known as Art in the Age and they’ve created this root beer wallop from a recipe not seen since the early 20th century. It’s readily available in Philadelphia and in a few North Carolina locations, but not at all available in Canada. Luckily, I found it at Cask, a great San Francisco shop filled with hard-to-find small-batch spirits. $40 later and it was carefully swathed into my luggage bound for Vancouver.
When I got it home, I was eager to give it a taste test to find out it the beautiful packaging outsmarted the flavour inside. Thankfully, the inside is just as beautiful as the outside. We had it over ice and it’s very root beer-ish but with nice herbal notes and it gives a pleasant chest-warming glow. It’s the perfect adult root beer. While I want to try it over ginger beer or mixed with a bit of club soda (there are a lot of great looking recipes & videos on the Art of the Age website), I figured I could use this stuff in baking.
As for the root beer cake, I had been wanting to make this cake forever. The recipe is adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking cookbook which is a well-used cookbook in my kitchen (remember the clumpy crisp granola & the white-out cake?). While I followed the recipe for the cake I decided not to make the fudge root beer frosting, but try out a Root-flavoured whipping cream instead. I thought the whipped cream would be closer to the idea of a root beer float and would pair nicely with the Root liquor.
The cake was well-loved. It’s not too heavy on the root beer – in fact, the cocoa really over powers the flavour of the soda in the cake, so I think it would be safer to call this a really simple & delicious chocolate cake. However, with the addition of the Root cream (get your mind out of the gutter!), this cake is totally over-the-top awesome. If you can’t get ahold of Root, you could try subbing in some root beer schnapps or extract instead.
Want more boozy cake ideas? Try these beloved ones from my archive:
Elsewhere: You can hear me waxing on about my dream flavour of ice cream over at ReadyMade or drink up a gallon or two of fridge-brewed iced tea over at Poppytalk. It’s hot, it’s seasonal, get some blog refreshment!
root beer cake
(cake recipe adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)
2 c root beer (not diet!)
1 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c unsalted butter
1 1/4 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/4 t baking soda (or 3 T baking powder)
1 t salt
2 large eggs
1/2 pint of heavy cream
1 T maple syrup
3 T Root liquor (or 1 T root beer schnapps* or 1-2 t of root beer extract)
1 t vanilla extract
1 maraschino cherry for garnish (optional)
For the cake:
1. Butter and flour a large round cake tin (or 2 small cake tins like I did to make 2 cakes). Preheat oven to 325F.
2. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the root beer, cocoa, butter, white sugar & brown sugar over medium-high heat, stirring often. When the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and let cool.
3. In a large bowl, blend together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and quickly whisk into the root beer mixture. Pour the root beer mixture into the flour bowl, folding gently until just combined. It’s okay if there are some lumps – don’t over-mix or the batter will become tough.
5. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, rotating the cake 1/2 way through the baking time so it bakes evenly. Test it with a toothpick and it will be done when there is no wet batter clinging. Let cool briefly on a wire rack. Use a knife to run to loosen the cake from the pan and overturn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For the whipped cream:
Whip cream with an electric mixer and when it’s at a softly whipped stage (when soft peaks form), add in the maple syrup and vanilla. Mix until combined and then add in the Root liquor. Continue to whip about a minute or two more until firm peaks form. Spread over the top of the cake and garnish with a maraschino cherry, if desired.
* If using schnapps, don’t add the maple syrup – or just add a bit to taste, as you don’t want the whipped cream to be overly sweet.