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A bit of wizardry and Harry Potter butterbeer is a cupcake

WHO: Shaun Jones, 26, of Pinellas Park, sales rep at Tech Data.

WHAT: Butterbeer Cupcakes

ABOUT THE RECIPE: What's better than a foaming glass of hot butterbeer? Butterbeer cupcakes!

(For the uninitiated, butterbeer is what the young wizards chug endlessly in the Harry Potter books. A version of the beverage — approved by J.K. Rowling herself — is served at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. The park is tight-lipped about the ingredients in the tooth-achingly sweet beverage that tastes buttery, like shortbread crossed with cream soda.)

Last Christmas, Jones was in a Harry Potter mood. He'd just been to the Wizarding World, and he wanted to learn how to make butterbeer himself. When he stumbled across a recipe for these cupcakes, he decided to give them a try. Now they're his favorite dessert to bake.

"It's definitely a really unique taste," he said. "You don't really get much that's got a butterscotch and cream soda flavor to it."

Filled with butterscotch ganache and topped with buttercream frosting, the rich cupcakes are a hit at parties. He likes sharing the dessert with friends and co-workers because "you can pretty much guarantee they haven't had it before."

"I always try to do something special for people if I can, and it's a pretty easy and fun way to do it," he said.

Although the flavor is close to the drink, he said it's not quite the same. "It's tough to get the same taste when you're going from liquid to a cupcake, but you can tell they're similar."

TIPS: You can use a pastry tube to squeeze the butterscotch ganache into the center of the cupcake.

ON THE SIDE: A glass of milk.

FAVORITE THING TO COOK WITH: Sports on TV. To keep himself entertained and make sure he knows the score, Jones does the heavy mixing in the living room. "Sometimes (mixing) can get a little tiring, but if I'm distracted by something else, I can get it done in no time."

WHY COOKING? Ever since he moved into his new apartment, Jones has been teaching himself how to cook. "Eventually you get sick of doing the same thing with fish and chicken, so I've been trying to mess with different flavorings and make it more interesting," he said. Next, he wants to tackle a citrus glaze for tilapia, and a shrimp dish, because he loves seafood.

"I'm glad that my cooking hasn't gone bad yet," he said. "I was expecting it to be a much longer process."

Emily Young, Times correspondent

If you have a recipe that you would like featured, or would like to nominate other home cooks and their dishes, email with a name and daytime phone number. Include SIGNATURE DISH in the subject line. Or mail to Taste, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.


Butterbeer Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

2 cups flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup dark brown sugar, packed

3 large eggs

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon butter flavoring

½ cup buttermilk

½ cup cream soda

For the ganache:

1 (11-ounce) package butterscotch chips

1 cup heavy cream

For the buttercream frosting:

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

cup butterscotch ganache

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon butter flavoring

teaspoon salt

1 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar

Splash of milk or cream (as needed)

To make cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pans with paper liners. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add sugars and beat until well combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Then beat in the vanilla and butter flavoring. Alternate adding the buttermilk, cream soda and dry ingredients a little at a time until well incorporated.

Fill each cupcake liner ¾ full and bake for 15 to 17 minutes until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean and cake springs back to the touch. Cool completely on wire racks.

For butterscotch filling: In a double boiler (heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water on the stove), combine butterscotch chips and heavy cream and stir until completely combined and smooth. Cool to room temperature. Fill a squeeze bottle with ganache and insert into the center of each cupcake, squeezing until filling begins to overflow. (Make sure to save ⅓ cup to add to frosting.)

To make frosting: Cream butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Add ganache, vanilla, butter flavoring and salt and mix until well combined. Beat in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until desired consistency is reached. Add milk or cream by the tablespoon as needed. Frost cupcakes and top with a drizzle of butterscotch ganache.

Makes 16 to 18 cupcakes.


A bit of wizardry and Harry Potter butterbeer is a cupcake 09/09/13 [Last modified: Monday, September 9, 2013 6:05pm]
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