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 [email protected] 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.