Tuesday, August 5, 2014

National Root Beer Day August 6th

Have you ever noticed that there are a lot of funny named days and weird holidays designated like Elvis Presley Day? Or take for instance the ones coming up August 8th, Odie Day, August 9th, Rice Pudding Day. But it is August 6 NATIONAL ROOT BEER FLOAT DAY, SUPPORTING WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT that caught my attention online.
It reads...we want to honor our company's roots by continuing to provide support in the homecoming of our service members. So we ask you to join us on August 6th as we celebrate National Root Beer Float Day at A&W Restaurants across the U.S.

Stop in to your local A&W anytime between 2 p.m. and store closing (times will vary) for a FREE small A&W Root Beer Float*.  As a part of the celebration, we will be collecting donations to honor and empower wounded warriors across the country through Wounded Warrior Project.

Click on the link Wounded Warrior Project to learn more about the mission statement of Wounded Warrior Project. It sounds like an ambitious and noble project.

We have been mystified by root beer even when drinking the soda straight since it can be difficult to identify the various flavors. You might be surprised to learn the key favorites found in root beer are

  • Anise: Imparts a licorice flavor.
  • Sarsaparilla: When soda production began in the last 1800s, sarsaparilla claimed to have health-giving properties. The root lends a very bitter flavor.
  • Birch oil: Made from the sap of birch trees, it gives a flavor similar to teaberry.
  • Wintergreen: Just what you're probably thinking of -- the minty flavor often found in chewing gum.
  • Sassafras: Coming from the sassafras tree, this imparts a deep, bitter flavor.
  • Vanilla extract (Bourbon or Tahitian): This gives root beer its distinctive creaminess.

I thought it was interesting to find out that The Huffington Post in March blind-tasted 16 different brands of root beer and AW came out on top.

What we do know is that root beer shows off distinctive sweetness, spiciness and creaminess which are all qualities that we look for in desserts. Of course, root beer's partner in crime, vanilla ice cream, makes the drink fizz into a creamy, near-perfect concoction.
Now most would agree that its hard to best the taste of a frosty cold root beer with an added scoop of vanilla ice cream but I did find this dessert to be a close second.
 Root Beer Cake
Cook's Notes: I was intrigued with the ingredients in this recipe. In addition the directions seemed a bit different than the usual cake baking steps. My adventurous cooking spirit spurred me on to take the plunge. Oh, my, this cake is moist and will satisfy anyone who has a chocolate craving. The cake sort of soaks the flavors the longer it sits. After the cake cools wrap in plastic wrap and the root beer flavors will intensify. Root beer brings out the depth and richness of the chocolate while imparting it own unique flavors. 
A word of caution: Pour root beer slowly to get the measured amount of liquid to avoid the foam.
Recipe comes from http://www.browneyedbaker.com/


For the Root Beer Bundt Cake:

  • 2 cups root beer (do not use diet root beer)
  • 1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
For the Root Beer Fudge Frosting:
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1/4 cup (4 ounces) butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup root beer
  • 2/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F*. Generously spray the inside of a 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a medium saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Use a whisk to blend and then add in the sugars. Whisk until sugars are dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until well blended. Then whisk eggs into the cooled cocoa mixture until combined. Gently fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture. use a whisk to blend batter. The batter will be slightly lumpy, which is okay. Do not over beat it, as it could cause the cake to be tough. If there are air bubbles in batter bang the bowl on the counter.   
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes. Use a skewer inserted in center to test for doneness. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the bundt pan with a butter knife and invert pan onto serving plate to cool completely. 
  • To make the Root Beer Fudge Frosting, put all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix on medium until combined and satiny smooth. Add root beer by the tablespoons if needed to get right frosting consistency. 
  • Use a spatula to spread the fudge frosting over the cake in a thick layer. Sprinkle with finely chopped nuts. Let the frosting set before serving. Store leftovers wrapped well or in an airtight container at room temperature.

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