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.)

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.

Recipe adapted from The Domestic Rebel.