Sunday, July 17, 2011

Harry Potter Butterbeer Cupcakes

It is truly the end of an era for those of us who (sorta) grew up with the Harry Potter books and films. I've been a fan since the beginning and have so many fond memories of sharing the books and going to see the movies with my friends over the years. While I don't have the patience to put up with the lines and crowds associated with opening night I wanted to do something to commemorate the release of the final Harry Potter film. Also, since I know I'll cry like a baby, especially when my favorite character dies, I prefer to go when there are as few witnesses as possible.

I have a trip to the Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios planned for this November and I have to admit that one of the biggest draws for me is getting to taste some of the delicious treats talked about in the books. Chief among those is Butterbeer, a butterscotch-flavored beverage with a frothy foam on top. But why wait to enjoy one when I can recreate the flavors in my kitchen in the form of butterscotch-filled, buttery cupcakes?

The recipe I found not only uses plenty of butterscotch but also something I never thought I'd buy: artificial butter flavor. Despite my reservations about it I have to say that the cupcakes wouldn't be half as magical without it. The buttery flavor meshes wonderfully with the sweetness and saltiness of the butterscotch to create a smooth, almost creamy flavored cupcake. If that makes any sense. If it doesn't I guess you'll just have to make these yourself to see what I mean.

Since I'm a DIY snob and prefer to make as much from scratch as I can, I swapped out the original recipe's butterscotch filling made by melting butterscotch baking chips and cream and made homemade butterscotch for the first time. I should admit that I've never been a big fan of butterscotch but after making my own I have become a convert. The flavor of real, homemade butterscotch is a thousand times better than the artificial flavor you get in candies and baking chips. And compared to making caramel this was a piece of cake. There is a much greater margin of error so I didn't have to stand over the stove fretting that I would miss the small window of opportunity between undercooked, flavorless caramel and burnt sugar. If you're a novice I'd suggest clicking the link below for the butterscotch recipe for helpful step-by-step photos. Or, if doing the extra work isn't your thing, head to amyBITES to see how you can use butterscotch chips to make the necessary filling.

In case you can't tell from the photos, I have a bit of a fangirl crush on Severus Snape. There's nothing natural, sensible, or healthy about this obsession so the less I say about it the better. Just know that these cupcakes were a wonderful way to say goodbye to a series I grew to love.

Butterbeer Cupcakes
Recipe from amyBITES

2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cream soda (DO NOT USE DIET)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pans with 18 paper liners. Combine your flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, cream your butter until light and fluffy. Add your sugars and beat until well-combined. Beat in your eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Then beat in your vanilla and butter flavoring.

Alternate adding your buttermilk, cream soda, and dry ingredients in alternating batches beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 full then bake for 15 to 17 minutes until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean and cake springs back to the touch. Cool in pans on wire racks for ten minutes, then remove from pans and cool cupcakes completely on racks.

Butterscotch Sauce
Recipe from Simply Recipes

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup of tightly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt (you might not use it all)

Butterscotch takes about a half an hour to make, from start to finish.

1) First, before you begin, make sure you have everything ready to go - the cream and the brown sugar next to the pan, measured and waiting. Making butterscotch is a fast process that cannot wait for hunting around for ingredients.

2) In a heavy bottomed stainless steel 2 quart saucepan, melt butter over low to medium heat. Just before butter is melted, add all dark brown sugar at once and stir with wooden spoon until sugar is uniformly wet.

3) Stir infrequently until mixture goes from looking grainy to molten lava. Make sure to get into the corners of your pot, and watch closely to notice how the mixture changes. It will take about 3 to 5 minutes.

4) Right before you add the cream, the caramelizing brown sugar will begin to look and feel more like liquid and less like thick wet sand.

5) At this point add all the cream at once and replace your spoon with a whisk. Lower heat a little and whisk cream into mixture. When liquid is uniform, turn heat back to medium and whisk every few minutes for a total of 10 minutes.

6) After liquid has been boiling on the stove for its 10 minutes, turn heat off and let rest for a minute or two before transferring into a heatproof storage vessel. Cool to room temperature.

7) When butterscotch liquid is room temperature, take a small taste. It's important to know what cooked brown sugar and butter tastes like, and what happens when transforming that flat sweetness into real butterscotch flavor. Whisk in half the salt and vanilla extract. Taste again. Add more salt and vanilla extract until the marvelous taste of real butterscotch is achieved.

Butterbeer Frosting
Recipe from amyBITES
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup butterscotch sauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 16-oz. package powdered sugar
Splash of milk or cream (as needed)

Cream butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Add in butterscotch sauce, vanilla, butter flavoring, and salt and mix until well combined. Beat in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until reaching desired consistency. Add milk or cream by the tablespoon as needed.

Using the cone method fill each cupcake with a dollop of butterscotch sauce. Replace cones and frost cupcakes and top with a drizzle of butterscotch sauce. (I got lazy and didn't want to waste any more or my precious butterscotch sauce so I only drizzled half.)


the cape on the corner said...

i love your fangirl crush on snape. i know nothing about hp, but my best friend feels the same silly way about snape. i believe there may even be an action figure in her midst as well. i am sure you will love hp world on your trip. that's definitley something fun to look forward to.