Summer can be many things to many people.
Perhaps it’s competition season buoyed by a relentless commitment to transforming your dull complexion into that of a bronzed Brazilian with glistening golden skin in a modest three months.
Or maybe it’s the promise of meaty cookouts with the pride and joy of the block party tucked under your arms, revealed only to Oooohs and Aaaaahs of ravenous neighbors.
For me, although summer means happier dispositions in friends and family, it also represents overly congested event weekends and jolting whiplash between warm and scorching temperatures. Summer’s the mandatory warm soup course preceding the anticipated main meal to come: fall and winter.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not one to decline a trip to the horse track, a lounge poolside or a gulp of milkshake with sweet potato fry chasers. But, there’s budding excitement from summer’s momentum that gets me feverishly roused up for the months ahead.
Like the Sox game I attended. Having never been to a game while viewing from box seats, I only now learned what exactly I had been missing.
There was no need for rubbing my tush side to side in the seat every time I got up to mop up the sweat pooling in the chair, and I didn’t return from the game looking like Two-Face from Batman with sun burn on the right side of my face and a ghostly white stranger on the other.
It’s like watching in style. Away from the crowds. And away from fly balls.
As a matter of fact, it felt like summer’s best up there. Warm but not hot. The cheers of baseball and the comforts of hot dogs with beer. And there’s nothing more American than booing an umpire for a bad call and then diving head first into your baked potato.
Yep. Your baked potato. Isn’t that what you go to games for?
I can be found pushing in line for a baked potato big enough to be mistaken for a Bears football souvenir. Douse it in a layer of melty butter, then gooey orange cheese, cool sour cream and topped with a sprinkling of bold, green chives. Carbs covered in a generous white dollop of frosting and green sprinkles? It’s like the cupcake of the savory world.
Not only did I learn about the luxury of box seating, but I also was thrilled to learn that baseball, as masculine as it can appear, is dabbling in the art of baking- finally.
You see, as I was constructing the perfect skin:toppings ratio on my mound of potato flesh, I heard the announcer comment about the batter at the plate. He said, “He wants a cookie.”
I froze my fork mid-flight to my mouth. “Did anyone else hear that?” I asked.
No response. But again, the announcer observed, “He’s waiting for a cookie.”
Ok. I definitely heard that. And I began to think, “Hey, I too want a cookie.” This is a player I could definitely relate to. He is at bat but is demanding a cookie. I know what that kind of craving feels like- get that man a cookie!
After the confused excitement in my head subsided about this burly man somehow conveying to the announcers that he was in need of a sugary treat, my fantasy bubble filled with players in the bull pen feasting on petit fours and bon bons was popped by a friend explaining what exactly that term meant.
Apparently, this term means a sweet pitch lofted down the center of the plate that is easy to hit.
Well, whoever devised that expression has never labored over the skill of mastering the perfect chocolate chip cookie- it ain’t easy.
Regardless, the game was a clear highlight of the summer so far, and just like every other assertive personality presented in the year’s seasons, this one too can be perfectly summed up in a single treat. I offer you a delightfully airy, sweet and boozy bite of my Summer Shandy Beer Cupcakes.
Beer fan or not, the irresistible whipped frosting with a touch of lemon and beer will be an easy home run. Even with wine-y friends.
You’re on the right track with this. Follow me to summertime in Shandyville.
Summer Shandy Beer Cupcakes
A light, whipped and slightly zesty frosting crowns these sumptuous lemon beer cupcakes. A hidden glaze poured on top while warm preserves the moist crumb within the body of the cake. Without a doubt summer in a bite, these darlings will be the perfect game celebration treat or the ultimate pick-me-up after a loss. And hey, followed by a few actual Summer Shandy’s, every game will feel like a winner!
- 1 1/2 C flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 C butter, softened
- 1/2 C white sugar
- 1/2 C brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 C Summer Shandy
- 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 3/4 C powdered sugar
- 1/4 C Summer Shandy
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 6 T cream cheese, softened
- 1 C sugar
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 2/3 C powdered sugar
- 2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 C heavy cream, cold
- Preheat oven to 350F and line a cupcake pan with liners.
- Cupcakes: Cream butter and sugars together until fluffy. Stir in zest and lemon juice. Mix in egg. Separately, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 2 parts alternating with the beer. Once all mixed in, stir in the vinegar. Immediately scoop 2/3 of the way into muffin cups. Place in oven 17-19 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. Prepare glaze while baking. Once they come out, while still warm, take a fork and stick it in the cupcake top 2-3 times 3/4 of the way to the bottom. Gently and slowly spread 2 tsp of glaze on each punctured muffin top, allowing it to soak in between teaspoons. Now allow to cool completely. Frost with frosting when cool. Store in fridge overnight.
- Glaze: While cupcakes are baking, make the glaze by whisking together all ingredients. It should be a relatively runny, sweet mixture.
- Frosting: In a mixer, whip together the cream cheese, zest, juice and sugar until smooth and granules are gone. Slowly add cream 1/2 cup at a time until it begins to whip up in volume. When almost to stiff peaks, add the powdered sugar. Mix until desired consistency is achieved.