butterbeer cupcakes

butterbeer cupcakes

Around the time I was 8 or 9, a certain book series started taking hold in my small town elementary school. Despite its popularity, it wasn’t exactly making waves for the right reasons. In fact, it was almost as if we’d gone back in time – not just as a town, but a country – to an era when banning a book because its contents could be construed as the least bit offensive seemed okay. To me, they were full of magic. To many, they were full of bad-spirited things, like witches and spells and plenty more hocus pocus that would surely warp young minds.

I’d been a reader since the year before I started school, and swiftly made my way through every tome my teachers had in stock (even those that were slightly inappropriate for my age group), from Junie B. Jones and Magic Tree House to Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and A Tale of Two Cities. But few series ever united a generation of children and adults quite like Harry Potter. I received the first three books at once, and suddenly realised what all the hype was about. Never before had I read novels that imagined an entirely new world, one so unlike my own, in a place so far away.

At that time, I didn’t realise that I’d eventually live in muggle-filled London, or visit the fictional platform 9 3/4 in Kings Cross Station. Or that I’d ever devise a Butterbeer-flavoured cupcake for a work leaving do. But, life does work in magical ways…

(PS: I forgot to actually take a photo of said cupcakes before they were eaten, but enjoy this photo of fudgy Sorting Hats.)

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Butterbeer Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
1 box yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup milk + 1 tsp caramel flavouring + 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 package butterscotch Angel Delight (or butterscotch pudding mix)

For the frosting:
1 stick softened butter
4-6 cups icing sugar
1 tsp caramel flavouring
1 tsp vanilla extract
Red, yellow, green and blue/purple food colouring

For the Sorting Hat toppers:
Caramel or fudge squares (I used dairy fudge; you’ll need 1 square per topper)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Line a cupcake tin with liners and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the cake mix, eggs, and melted butter. Stir together the milk, caramel flavouring, and vanilla extract; add this to the cake mixture and whisk to combine. Whisk in the Angel Delight/pudding mix until combined.

2. Fill the cupcake liners to 2/3 full and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick can be removed cleanly. Move the cupcakes to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

3. Meanwhile, beat together the softened butter, 1 cup icing sugar, caramel flavouring and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually add the icing sugar, approximately 1/2 cup at a time, until the icing reaches a spreadable consistency and the butter is completely mixed through (you may need to add a few tablespoons of milk if the icing becomes too stiff).

4. Add 1/4 cup of icing each to 4 bowls; set aside the remaining icing. In one bowl, add red food colouring and mix until combined and smooth (this is Gryffindor). In one bowl, add yellow food colouring and mix until combined and smooth (this is Hufflepuff). In one bowl, add green food colouring and mix until combined and smooth (this is Slytherin). In one bowl, add blue or purple food colouring and mix until combined and smooth (this is Ravenclaw). Set aside.

5. To create the toppers: roll out one fudge square, and using a small, 1-inch round cookie cutter, cut out a circle. This will be the base of the hat. Using small scissors or a knife, create small cuts and notches around the ‘brim’ of the circle. Shape the remaining fudge from the square into a rough cone using your fingers, then shape to resemble the hat. Using a knife, gently press in the eyes and mouth of the hat. Attach the cone to the base using edible glue, caramel or sugar glue. Set aside and allow to dry.

6. Cut a small hole into the tops of the cooled cupcakes. Using a piping bag, randomly fill the cakes with the ‘house’ colours, then pipe or spread the reserved, plain icing over the top. Top with the Sorting Hats as desired.

Notes:
Recipe adapted from The Domestic Rebel.

i’ve got a cake to bake

i’ve got a cake to bake

…Or, rather, I don’t. I get to properly decorate cakes approximately twice a year: May (birthday month in this house) and December (uh, Christmas?) And frankly, it’s not enough. I’ve got cake decoration withdrawals. So if I had a reason, these are the cakes I’d bake.

A standing cake, like…

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Pikachu cake via josiejoe on Cake Central

Okay, so I happen to like Pikachu. But really I’d be excited to try any standing cake – I’ve seen Marios, R2D2s, and anatomically correct trees. Would it be hard? Abso-freaking-lutely. I’m not even sure I could pull it off. But imagine if I did.

A floating cake, like…

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Straw-ber-rita cake via Rlitt on Craftsy

Similar to a standing structure, but with the added support of cleverly hidden dowels, floating cakes have such an impact. Whether it’s sweets falling from a pick n’ mix bag, drink flowing from a can, or tea from a kettle, they’re always impressive. And, I might just manage one.

A Katherine Sabbath-inspired cake, like…

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Drippy Chocolate Cake via Erin Bakes on The Cake Blog

Australian Katherine Sabbath created an Instagram revolution the first time she dripped neon ganache over a six-layer buttercream cake. From then on, exaggerated and outlandish designs have been the ‘thing’ – and it’s no surprise, as they’re beautiful and ultra indulgent. So why do I want to make one? Come on, have you seen it? That’s free design reign – otherwise known as ‘way too much fun.’

A cupcake cake, like…

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Baseball Field Cupcakes via Country Kitchen Sweet Art

Okay, I’ve done cupcake cakes before. In fact, many times. But they’re fun to create – and thus far, I’ve only done simple decorations on mine. I’d love a detailed cupcake cake like the above. And, there are so many ideas for these: I’ve seen everything from frothy beer mugs to Disney princesses in cupcake cake form.

A pinata cake, like…

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Rainbow Cake via Hungry Happenings on Tablespoon

Pinata cookies have been a thing for a while now (you’ve probably seen a couple unicorn renditions). But pinata cakes are a) easier and b) so much more fun. It’s surprise on a larger scale, and totally customisable: add your favourite sweets, theme them to the cake, choose fruit instead, whatever you like.

A carved cake, like…

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Sorting Hat cake via That CakeGirl

I love a themed cake. And, I love geeky cakes. In the past, I’ve done The Legend of Zelda, World of Warcraft, and have plans for Pokemon and Super Mario. For all of them, I’ve had to mould and carve characters, and I love the challenge that brings. And a Harry Potter cake? It can only be butterbeer flavoured, surely (and don’t worry, I also have plenty of ideas for snitch-shaped cupcakes…)

Want to chat cakes? Get in touch here.

on loss and losing (and blueberry crumb cake)

on loss and losing (and blueberry crumb cake)

I couldn’t get a dog, so I got a hamster. I know why people buy hamsters. They’re the pets parents say ‘yes’ to to placate dog- and cat-loving kids, because parents don’t want to commit to dogs and cats. Hamsters live for two years at best. And that’s not much of a commitment at all.

But I’m not a parent. I rent a house, and I’m not allowed dogs or cats. But I’ve also adopted small animals before – a mouse, once, and a rabbit – as has my other half. So we got a hamster. And we named him Booker.

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brown bear cookies

brown bear cookies

Sunday afternoon, a red fox was sunning itself in a garden two houses down. He was so close, I could have touched him – and so tame, I really probably could have. You see, he’s a common sight in our neighbourhood: he prowls about the flowers by night and hides himself in sleep by day. But still, I found him unsettling. Not because he’s wild – or, as wild as a suburban London fox can be – but because he’s stealthy. This fox prefers midnight to midday, and the cover of streetlights to four o’clock rays.

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do you wanna build an elsa?

do you wanna build an elsa?

It’s been three years. Three years since Frozen entered all of our lives. Even those of us without children haven’t been able to escape the onslaught of merchandise, sing-along albums, spin-off shorts and carefully placed references. But for kids enthralled by Elsa, it isn’t over yet.

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behind the cupcake cake

behind the cupcake cake

It would be stupid for me to start this post with the sentence ‘I love baking cakes’, because, well, that should be obvious by now. But, I do love baking cakes – challenging cakes that require hours of decoration, cakes with complex flavour profiles, cakes that are bigger than my refrigerator can comfortably hold. I love baking cakes so much that I volunteer one for nearly every event I attend. But sometimes, I just don’t have the time to bake a cake.

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