In case you didn’t know, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan – I got the first book from Santa back when I was nine and have been hooked ever since. I re-read the series every year, sometimes going chronologically like a normal person but often working my way through in a bizarre order – favourite to least favourite (in case you’re wondering, that means going 7-6-3-4-1-2-5).
So when we were planning our trip to America, it was a no brainer that we would head down to Florida and spend a bit of time in Orlando. Why? Because it’s the home of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – a section of Universal Studios Orlando that brings the books to life. Literally. As you step through the gates it’s like entering another world – from the cobbled streets and twisted chimneys to the snow covered rooftops dotted with owls, everything looks just as you would imagine.
Kevin and I spent a day trawling through the stores, going on the rides and tasting every wizarding treat the park had to offer. But the best thing? Trying butterbeer for the first time. It was delicious – a kind of buttery tasting creaming soda… but a million times better. It’s rich, sweet and only to be drunk in moderation – as we learned the hard way after throwing back two in quick succession, then having to spend an hour sitting in the courtyard of the Three Broomsticks while the nausea passed! Here’s a glimpse of my first taste of butterbeer, perched on a windowsill outside Honeydukes:
Since returning from our trip, both Kevin and I have been dreaming of having butterbeer again – unfortunately, getting the real deal means another trip to the other side of the world. So this weekend I decided to try and bring a little bit of Harry Potter magic to Auckland by making a batch of rich butterbeer cupcakes, washed down with a homemade version of the wizarding drink itself.
So what’s a butterbeer cupcake? It’s a fluffy brown sugar cake, filled with runny butterscotch mixture that soaks into the cake, followed by a dollop of soft butterscotch ‘cream’, topped with a generous swirl of butterscotch buttercream and finished with a drizzle of runny butterscotch. Yip, it’s a lot of butterscotch!
After a bit of research I managed to piece together a recipe that ticked all the butterbeer boxes, without needing to buy many expensive American ingredients – the only “special” ingredient I used was butterscotch chips, but even these can be substituted if need be. The magic of the cupcakes comes from the ingredients used – creaming soda, clarified butter, buttermilk and dark brown sugar all make appearances in this recipe.
While the finished cupcakes might sound a little overwhelming, they’re actually beautifully balanced. The butterscotch mixture makes the centre of the cake beautifully moist, while there’s just enough filling and icing to round out the flavour of the cupcakes and transform them into something special. Try them – it’s well worth the effort!
Once the cupcakes were finished, it was time to get started on the butterbeer itself! This is actually really simple – as easy as pouring creaming soda into a large glass and topping it with a flavoured whipped cream, kind of like a reverse spider. Click here to find of how to make it!
Warning: these treats are not made to be consumed together. We stupidly tried to munch on a cupcake straight after downing a mug-full of butterbeer and soon realised we couldn’t do it – Kevin gave a valiant effort and managed to get them both in his tummy, while I could only manage a bite of cupcake.
Instead have them one at a time – they’re both absolutely magical.
Recipe inspired by Amy Bites
- 2 cups flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 113g butter, softened
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 3 eggs
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla essence
- 1 tsp clarified butter (details below)
- ½ cup buttermilk (½ cup milk + ½ tsp white vinegar)
- ½ cup creaming soda
Butterscotch filling & topping
- 310g butterscotch chips
- 1 cup cream
- 3 Tbsp icing sugar, sifted
- 113g butter, softened
- ¾ cup butterscotch topping
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 4-5 cups icing sugar
- 2-3 Tbsp milk
- Place 50g of butter in a small saucepan and heat slowly
- Allow to simmer until butter separates and white mixture comes to the top and sides of the pot
- Line a sieve with cheesecloth or gauze and strain butter.
- Pour clear yellow mixture (clarified butter) into a heat proof container. Use immediately.
- Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius and line cupcake pans with liners
- Whisk together flour, baking powder and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside
- Cream butter, white and dark brown sugars together until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.
- Add vanilla and clarified butter and mix well.
- Alternate between adding buttermilk, creaming soda and flour mixture, beating well between each addition.
- Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 18-20 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.
- Allow to cool completely before icing
Butterscotch Mixture (for filling & topping)
- In a medium saucepan, melt together butterscotch chips and cream. Mix until well combined and glossy. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Core each cupcake and fill with 1 tsp butterscotch mixture. Allow to soak into cake.
- Transfer 3 Tbsp butterscotch mixture into a small bowl and add 4 Tbsp icing sugar. Mix well.
- Fill each cupcake with 1 Tsp butterscotch ‘cream’ and replace tops.
- Cream butter in a large bowl. Add 2 cups icing sugar and mix well.
- Add butterscotch mixture and beat well.
- Continue adding icing sugar and milk until desired consistency is reached.
- Fill a decorating bag with buttercream and pipe onto cupcakes.
- Before serving drizzle each cupcake with 1 tsp of butterscotch mixture