Hello all and welcome to another wonderful, wintry edition of Fantastic Feasts and Where to Find Them! Do finals loom at your doorstep and haunt your every dream? (They certainly aren’t letting me sleep! Ha, ha, ha *Sob*)
So let’s take a step back from reality, let’s pretend for a moment we’re not staring at boring old Muggle textbooks. We’re not crammed in libraries, or hermits exiled into our dorm rooms — nope, we’re now curled up on armchairs in front of a blazing fire, books strewn across our laps, the floor, or even levitating in the air.
Armed with our parchments, our wands, and a nice warm mug of butterbeer — we’ll get through this final paper. I’m sure.
JK Rowling is arguably a competent world-builder, having constructed not only a functioning magical-world for her series but one that many fans seek to replicate. Say what you will about the Harry Potter fandom but if there’s one magical thing they’ve got right it’s fan replications, it’s their ingenuity and creativity to bring elements from the book alive and into the real world. This is pretty evident in all the fan-made products that rivals, and at times, outshines the official merchandise that is offered.
And butterbeer is just one of those things that, I personally believe, the mass market still might not be getting right.
Okay, okay, I admit, I have not yet tried out Universal Studio’s famed “frozen butterbeer”. I know that JK Rowling gave it her own seal of approval a long while before it was released to the adoring public, but while it may taste like canon I still remain a skeptic. Not that I doubt its tastiness or its appeal (I mean, why serve a warm drink in the middle of Orlando), it just is not what I imagined; what I want is something that is warm, a little fizzy, and distinctly buttery with slight hints of brown sugar in taste.
So, like any other Harry Potter fan, I decided to follow my gut and get a little inventive. After all, there are literally tons of recipes to choose from, ranging from complicated multi-step procedures, to maybe even melting down some Wurther’s caramels, or warming up instant butterscotch ice-cream-topping-sauce then throwing it into some ginger-ale and hoping for the best. I was also hoping for the best when I crafted this recipe; it’s a mix between over-complicated and throwing in everything and praying nothing will explode in your roommate’s microwave.
But sometimes there’s a little magic in taking a risk. I’m not sure how it compares to the “real” thing, but it suits my taste and pretty much lives up to what I imagined: buttery, warm, rich and a little fizzy thanks to the carbonated soda — but in its own albeit strange way comforting.
For the body-base:
- Cream Soda; as much as you need to serve. I’ll be honest, this IS NOT a single-serving-friendly recipe, and I learned that the hard way with a fridge stock full of leftover whipped cream and butterscotch. Plan accordingly, but also keep in mind that this is going to sustain a large group of people.
Butterscotch sauce (Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen)
- 1/4 stick of unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup dark/light brown sugar (I used light, because that’s all I had on hand)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- A pinch or two, or three of sea salt
- 1 tsp. of vanilla
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Some icing sugar
- Some of that butterscotch sauce
- Chilled bowl and whisk; the key to whipped cream is chilled utensils, the colder the temperature, the fluffier and voluminous your whipped cream will be! Also, make sure your heavy cream is cold – straight out of the fridge cold if you can!
1. Make the fake “head” for your glass of butterbeer
I started by first making the “head” because no matter how you pour it, cream soda with butterscotch just won’t produce that frothy foam; whipped cream seemed like a good alternative.
Okay so this got a little complicated a little fast; you don’t have to whip your own whipped cream for the “head” of the beer, nor do you have to make this if you want to try to lay off the sweets (Although the butterbeer IS quite strong, and the cream helps cut through the flavor). Also, making fresh whipped cream would be about one-thousand times easier with an electric mixer than with a good old whisk, however, I needed to exercise my big, muscular kendo arms.
OF COURSE – I also flubbed it up by forgetting to take pictures of the process, so you’re going to have to enjoy a nearly-whipped-but-not-quite-there shot only.
Anyway – into your CHILLED bowl, stir in your heavy cream and then whip it, baby. Whip it good.
If you have a better equipped kitchen then break out your electric mixer; begin whipping on the lowest speed, gradually increasing speed until the mixture forms stiff peaks. You can test this by lifting the beaters; if the cream curls up and makes a cute mountain-top shape, you’re good to go!
Now stir in your icing sugar, and leave it to the side for just a minute while you prepare the butterscotch sauce…
2. Make the butterscotch sauce!
BUT before we continue I will preface this post on butterscotch sauce by saying… It is amazing and does not have to be used just for butterbeer. Drizzle this over brownies, plain cheesecake, vanilla ice cream, whatever needs some sprucing up or just another kick of flavor. It is that good; I usually swear by the SmittenKitchen and well, I’ve become smitten again with this really quick, and really easy sauce.
Back to the butterbeer – to a heavy bottom-sauce pan melt your butter, sugar, and heavy cream together and then stir, constantly. There isn’t more to it than that, keep stirring until the butter melts and everything becomes incorporated into a sweet smelling, luscious brown sauce.
You need to wait for it just to boil, then turn off the heat, stir in the salt and the vanilla to taste and set that aside while you prepare the final ingredient: cream soda.
Now I was honestly a little hesitant about warming up soda, much less soda in the communal microwave. But sometimes sacrifices for science needed to be made, so I crossed my fingers, poured out as much cream soda as I dared to microwave, then put that baby in for about two minutes.
That was two anxious minutes of thinking: Oh my goodness it is going to explode. Or make a mess. Well if it explodes it’ll make a mess but exploding is messier than just spillage —
When my mug came out unexploded and no sign of spillage, or much action save for a few more bubbles shimmying up to the surface of my mug, it was time to add the butterscotch sauce! To my kind of tall, kind of squat mug, I added about two and a half spoonfuls of butterscotch sauce, just to start with since I figured that I could add more if I wanted to later.
And then I made the head – in a separate bowl I combined a bit of whipped cream with a bit of the butterscotch sauce, stirring it around for a bit before I plopped it on top of my drink to kind-of maybe-sort-of replicate an actual beer.
Now was the moment of truth… I knew that the butterscotch sauce on its own would be fantastic, amazing, stars-swirling-behind-your-eyes, and choirs of angels singing amazing but what about if it was paired up with an unlikely combination of cream soda?
Well, there’s no real way to take a picture of my reaction, but it was definitely an epiphany. Was it close to what I imagined in my head while paging through Prisoner of Azkaban? Yes and no, I have the buttery taste that I wanted, but not the sort of warming affect that a real beer produces. But, you can’t have everything, especially if you’re a Muggle; I guess butterbeer is just that magical. Also, I might have made the butterbeer a little too sweet. I’ll need to make this again to adjust the right proportions… But the whipped cream helped tremendously, sipping the soda through the slightly sweetened, but overall bland whipped cream was necessary.
Either way, I had what I wanted, and I could sit down with my ethnography on Zulu medicine and – ironically enough – witchcraft; with butterbeer in hand any last-minute-essay editing can be done in a flash! (
Insert sobbing, and weeping, complete with a musical interlude bargaining with a demon to destroy my enemies; can this be over already)
And, one last warning: The whipped cream and the butterscotch recipes here will definitely make enough for more than just one serving. Please consider this as you make your butterbeer; you should be prepared to serve a crowd, and be prepared to have left-over whipped cream and butterscotch sauce! (Although that is not a bad thing :D)
Also this concludes the Winter Warm Up series, but that does not mean it’s the end for this quirky little food blog! Tune in during my winter break for a rather exciting month, now with school over and easy access to a well-equipped, well-stocked kitchen! Yay.