Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Baking the Books: Butterbeer Cupcakes

Welcome to the first ever installment of Baking the Books, where I bake things inspired by my favorite novels! Since I do a lot of reading and a lot of baking, it was only a matter of time before the two things overlapped. It's just part of my evil plot to get books involved in every single aspect of my life.

For my first Baking the Books, I just had to go Harry Potter. There's never been a fictional word as  deep and full of details as the Wizarding World. Sometimes I feel like I know more about that world than my own, because there's just so much and it's all so visual and creative and amazing. Especially the sweets. I mean, how much do I wish Honeydukes was real? That I could just walk inside and buy Sugar Quills, Fizzing Whizbees, Drooble's Best Blowing Gum, and Cockroach Clusters? (Except not Cockroach Clusters.)

But of all the things in the Wizarding World I most want to try, it's Butterbeer, the drink of choice at the Three Broomsticks Pub. I don't even know what it is, exactly, except that it's warm and rich and buttery and *drools*. Obviously, I had to make a version of it. So: BEHOLD! The Butterbeer cupcake!

It's TECHNICALLY a root beer/cream soda cupcake with vanilla buttercream drizzled in butterscotch sauce, but shh. It's butterbeer. I didn't want to make a cake with actual beer in it, for all the children and teetotalers out there, so I paired vanilla-flavored root beer with butterscotch to get that rich, warm, ale-y flavor without the alcohol. To make it even butterier, they have this thing called butter extract, which is like super concentrated butter flavoring, but I didn't have that. But if you do, you can just add a little teaspoon of that to your batter and make it BUTTERTASTIC.


Butterscotch sauce recipe:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Root beer syrup:
1/8 cup root beer (I used vanilla-flavored A&W)

Cupcake recipe:
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup vanilla-flavored root beer or cream soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup softened, unsalted butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon COOLED root beer syrup
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cups vanilla flavored root beer/cream soda (I used the same root beer as above)

Frosting recipe:
1 stick or 8 tablespoons of butter
3 cups powdered sugar (divided), with more as necessary
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon whipping cream OR milk, with more as necessary

You should make the butterscotch sauce first, so it has time to cool. This is also the EASIEST RECIPE EVARR, which is cool, because life should be easy.

Put 1/4 cup butter in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan with medium heat. When butter is melted, stir in 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 a cup brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir all together,


then let it come to a gentle boil. Cook about five-ish minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.


Let it COOL before you taste it. You know better than to touch hot sugar, right? Life hint: Don't do it. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Add more vanilla and/or salt if you think it needs it. Cool to room temperature, then stick it in the fridge (in a container, not just, like, in the big ass saucepan. Unless you really want to). It will keep up to two weeks in an airtight container.

Yes, my container is perhaps a touch too large.

Next you should make the root beer syrup, which is really just root beer stuck in the microwave until it reduces to a thick, syrupy texture. This is also optional, but it will really kick up the rootbeer flavor in the cupcakes.

Put 1/8 cup of rootbeer in a microwavable container and stick it in the microwave on high for about three minutes, or until somewhat thick. Let cool to room temperature.

This is the root beer I used.
I did it with 1/4 cup, which is FAR too much.

Warning: this is possibly the stickiest substance known to man, so don't spill it on your clothes or your walls or something. Not that, um, anybody would ever do that, or anything.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set up your baking sheet with liners. I was out of the traditional paper lines, so I used these:

They're basically the same, only they're silicone and serve as the entire baking dish. They're also damn cute, even though you're supposed to remove them from the cupcakes after they're baked and cooled, so no one but me ever sees them. They're reusable and washable and and eco-friendly! If you do use these, make sure you put a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment paper underneath, for easy cleanup.

Mix 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon cloves in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a stand mixer outfitted with the paddle blade (or in a bowl with a handheld mixer, but a stand is WAY EASIER on your arms), cream 1/2 cup softened, UNSALTED butter with 3/4 cup white sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Creaming just means you beat them all together until it's fluffy, for about four to five minutes. Go until it's as thick and fluffy as possible.

Go from this...
To this!
 Next, add 2 eggs, one at a time, mixing between each addition.

After the eggs are mixed in, add 1 teaspoon of your cooled root beer syrup and mix just until incorporated.

Mix 1/2 cup milk with 3/4 cup cream soda/root beer in a measuring cup. Remember that flour you set aside? Add a third of that mixture into the batter, mixer on medium-low, then half of the milk-root beer mix. Then another third of the dry ingredients. Then the rest of the wet. Then the last of the dry. Mix until smooth. Don't overmix.

Add batter to cupcake wells, filling about 3/4 of the way.


Bake for around twenty minutes, though since every oven varies, you should keep an eye on them. Remove when a knife or a toothpick stuck in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Let cool completely.

Now it's FROSTING time!

Add 1 stick or 8 tablespoons of softened, UNSALTED butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until smooth and fluffy. With mixer on medium low, slowly add 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar. Stop the mixer and scape down the side with a spatula, making sure all the ingredients are being incorporated. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Turn mixer back to medium low speed and add the remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.


Once incorporated, add 1 tablespoon whipping cream OR milk and beat until smooth and fluffy. You can add milk or powdered sugar to get it to the desired consistency, but it should be pretty stiff, so you can pipe it out. I had to add a touch more cream to get it perfect.


Obviously, you can take the easy way and just spoon the frosting on top of your cupcakes. Because I never do things easily, I like to pipe it out all fancy. What I do is take a 1 gallon plastic bag, place it inside and fold it over a tall water glass or something similar. Like this:

Okay, that picture is really bad. Essentially, place one corner of the bag at the very bottom, press the bag into the sides of the glass, and then fold the rest of the bag over the edges of the glass. Basically, it props open the bag for you, and created a space for you to plot your frosting.

Spoon the frosting inside, seal the bag, and snip the very tip. Like this:

Then we're ready to pipe! I like to make pretty little frosting swirls like this. Go from the outside in and keep your hand pressure constant.

Next, we drizzle a little butterscotch sauce on top! If your sauce has been in the fridge a while, and is solid, just pop it in the microwave for about ten seconds and it'll loosen up. Don't overheat it. If it's too hot, you'll melt your buttercream. Stick a spoon in the butterscotch and drizzle a little over each cupcake.

And there you have it! Butterbeer cupcakes full of magic and all kinds of fattening goodness. I ate, like, three of these for lunch. They're that good. If you don't want to make the frosting, you can always use a nice, light whipped cream instead, which is really easy to make at home. Just whip some whipping cream in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, add some white sugar and a splash of vanilla, and beat till fluffy. Voila.


Hope you like Baking the Books! If you have any ideas or suggestions about what I should make next, let me know in the comments!



    1. YES OMG. I was thinking something Shadow and Bone-related!

    2. I wouldn't know what to do with Shadow and Bone though...

  2. Oh my gosh those look so freaking tasty. Books AND Baking... you're a genius. Totally trying this recipe... very cute feature, can't wait for more!

    Bonnie @ Sweet Tidbits

  3. Can we just live by each other? Bake? Read? Do nothing?

    Although I'm not sure the world can handle us that close together.

  4. This is brilliant and I am hungry now.

    1. *tries to hand you cupcake through the computer screen* *fails*

  5. Mmmm want to eat these NOW! :) Looks tasty!

    1. Thank you! They're pretty yummy if I do say so myself!


    1. One day you will visit and I will make these for you!

  7. I second Alexa's comment. WHEN ARE YOU COMING TO MY HOUSE!?

    In other news, I bet you'd make a wicked pumpkin pasty.

    1. OMG I need to make a pumpkin pasty! And I wish all the bloggers could get together and eat all the things SO MUCH.

  8. Incredible nomz! Going to immediately post this to my dad's Facebook wall as a recommendation for him to bake.

    What a fun feature idea! Looking forward to next week :)

  9. THESE LOOK AMAZING. I am definitely using this recipe! I know they were incredible!

    Great post!

    Nikki @ Take Me Away...

  10. OMGEESUS. This is amazing. *drools* Must remember to pin this when I get behind a computer.

  11. I generally lurk around here, but I just wanted to comment and say THESE LOOK AMAZING.

    1. Thank you so much for commenting! And thanks for lurking, too :D

  12. AHHHH this looks positively AMAZING!!! Saving this recipe for later use!! =)

  13. I love this recipe, it's so original! I'm definitely going to make this one day for me and my sister, a fellow Potter fan.

  14. OMG who are you this looks so good I want one now! 0_0

    *makes grabby hands*

    Great recipe, and your homemade GIF was awesome. You're definitely a wizard. ;-)

  15. How awesome Gillian!!! I am TOTALLY Pinning this!

  16. these look freaking amaaaazing. why am i just seeing this post now???? i am definitely gunna try these out!!

  17. I just want to say that this is pretty much the best feature ever. Food and books. This is why I love you.


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