I've always had a thing for root beer. When I was little, my sister and I took tap lessons at a dance studio that happened to be near an A&W. Sometimes after class my mom would take us there for a treat. We preferred A&W to other fast food places because they made baby burgers for kids, perfectly sized for little paws.
"What would you like to order, Hungry Dog?" my mother would ask.
"A baby burger," I'd reply, not missing a beat, "and a root beer float."
Remember those days? When you'd order a root beer float...as a beverage? Ah, the decadence of being a kid in the 70's, before the obesity epidemic and trans fat frenzy. We thought nothing, and neither did our parents, of consuming red meat and processed foods at each meal. We didn't think twice of saying, "I'll have a cheeseburger and a root beer float, and I'll take a sundae for dessert."
Those post-dance class floats--served in frosty mugs and made not with ice cream but vanilla soft serve--remain one of my happiest memories. While I haven't made it to an A&W in decades, I still love root beer and I do enjoy a good float, although now I like it with Henry Weinhard root beer and Haagen Daaz vanilla. And root beer floats are one of my favorite desserts to serve to guests. I have the perfect float glasses and special spoons that double as straws.
I've never played around with root beer much, though, baking-wise. So when I came across this recipe for root beer cake, I just about lost my mind. Immediately, I began wondering where I could buy a bundt pan on the way home from work. I mentally poured over the pantry. Did I have the right kind of cocoa? Dark brown sugar? Was there root beer in the house? I became obsessed. I even mentioned root beer cake in a facebook status.
Apparently, I'm not the only one who can get behind a root beer cake. Within moments of posting my status, several people made comments. The husband wanted to know when he could expect to see this cake. Desiree wanted the recipe. Cynthia reported that she currently had a root beer sitting on her desk and wanted to know what else she needed to turn it into a cake.
The cake was gaining momentum. It wanted me to make it. So I did.
The cake was simple to put together and didn't take long to bake. Once I'd removed the cake from the oven, I admired it in its attractive green bundt shell.
Oh yeah. The cake is sprinkled with sea salt. SEA SALT. Genius.
The cake was delicious and moist, more of a chocolate cake reminiscent of root beer than a straight-up root beer cake. But that's probably just as well. A cake that tastes like a can of soda might be a bit much. But a cake that has cocoa and dark chocolate and coarse sea salt, a grown up version of that favorite dessert you had as a kid, well that's just about perfect.