Butterbeer Cupcakes

This is part IV in a mini-series of Harry Potter snacks from the books brought to life (part I is on Honeydukes treats, part II is all about the cauldron cakes, and part III features every wizard's favorite drink—butterbeer!).

I confess that Butterbeer Cupcakes aren't actually mentioned in the Harry Potter series. In my defense, if JK Rowling had been given one of these while writing the books, she would have found a way to fit them in. They are so exceptional, I wouldn't be surprised if she featured them as a major plot point.

I'm only half joking.

Humor aside, the release of the final movie is upon us. I'm a mixed bag of emotions right now—thrilled to see the last movie and devastated to see the series finally come to a close. It's not only the end of the series but the end of an era—an era that defined my generation in a small, significant way. Though I knew this day would come, I find I'm not ready to say farewell. I want to hold onto the magic just a little bit longer.

Yet, as I keep reminding myself, this isn't really goodbye.

My collection of Harry Potter books isn't going anywhere. The movies are not suddenly going to vanish from the shelves. I can revisit the characters, these friends I have gotten to know over the last decade, whenever I choose. We can still get together for long weekends and lazy Sunday afternoons. Though the characters will no longer evolve or set out on new adventures, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Like the familiar comfort of an old friend, you know they'll always be around, waiting patiently on your bookshelf.

I don't know about you, but I can always use the comfort of an old friend.

These Butterbeer Cupcakes are easily on my list of the top three cupcakes of all time (if you put another one in front of me, I just may declare these the winner). These are unbelievably delicious—in fact, they didn't even last a full 24 hours in my house.

The butterbeer cupcake is essentially a brown sugar cupcake infused with cream soda and butter flavors. If that isn't good enough, the cupcakes are then filled with a butterscotch ganache, topped with a rich butterscotch buttercream, and drizzled with more butterscotch ganache. I'm not typically a fan of butterscotch, but these cupcakes absolutely changed my mind. The cupcake itself leans more on the denser side, but it still manages to feel light. The butterscotch buttercream is sweet, but not teeth-fall-out sweet (I don't typically like sweet frostings, but I ate this one by the spoonful. So good). Don't even get me started on the butterscotch ganache...

You need to make these. I don't want to hear any excuses—no ifs, ands, or buts about it. You can thank me later.

If you want to see a truly epic Harry Potter cake, my incredible friend Meghan from CosmoCookie has just what you're looking for. Made out of gingerbread, it features stained glass windows and all of your favorite characters from the books. Did I mention it even lights up? The creation of this amazing cake can be found here and the finished product is here. Check it out!

Butterbeer Cupcakes
Adapted from Amy Bites

Yields 18 cupcakes

Butterbeer Cupcakes
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cream soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a cupcake tin with baking cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and butter flavoring.

Fold in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, 1/3 of the flour mixture, cream soda, and then the remaining flour. Folding in these ingredients will prevent over-mixing and will result in a fluffier, less dense cupcake. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the cupcakes are golden and spring back when touched. Cool completely before frosting.

Butterscotch Ganache
11 ounces (1 package) butterscotch chips
1 cup heavy cream

In a small saucepan on medium heat, melt the butterscotch chips into the heavy cream, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before using.

Butterscotch Buttercream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup butterscotch ganache (recipe above)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
Pinch of salt
3-3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Splash of heavy cream (as needed)

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the butterscotch ganache, vanilla, butter flavoring, and salt. Beat in the powdered sugar for 2-3 minutes, starting with 3 cups and adding more only if necessary. Add the cream a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved (I only needed 1 tablespoon).

To Assemble

Pour butterscotch ganache into a plastic squeeze bottle. Stab the tip of the bottle into cupcake and fill each cupcake with butterscotch ganache until it starts to overflow.

Fill a pastry bag with butterscotch buttercream and pipe onto the top of each cupcake. Drizzle on the butterscotch ganache. Lick your fingers clean if you just so happen to get extra butterscotch on them. If you have any leftover butterscotch ganache, it can be used as ice cream topping.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature (that is, if they don't get devoured immediately).