In Cupcakes, Recipes

You know what makes it difficult to stick to your new diet?

Baking cupcakes for a living.

Especially fiddling with new flavours. Takes a lot of experimenting, many batches of tasty cupcakes that have to be taste tested. Taste tested for breakfast. Taste tested for lunch. Y’know. For science.

When I was forwarded the recipe from Amy Bites for Butterbeer cupcakes, I knew I had to try making them. And I wanted to modify one of my favorite cupcake recipes to fit the flavour profile, which of course meant some bakesperimenting. Cue the baggy yoga pants!

Butterbeer is, of course, the famed frothy concoction sold at fine establishments such as the Three Broomsticks in the Harry Potter books. It’s now available for us Muggles at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando Florida, and has been described as a sickly sweet butterscotch cream soda – a flavour which sounds just about perfect for a cupcake, yes? So let’s get to it.

This recipe is inspired by the one over at Amy Bites, (who pioneered the Butterbeer cupcake here in the Muggle world,) but contains my favorite vanilla butter cupcake recipe modified to to be richer, have a deeper flavour and be more like a Butterbeer. This recipe includes the step of “burning your butter”, which sounds like crazytalk, but is actually a great technique to giving these cupcakes a unique flavour. So read the instructions below on how to burn your butter, get all your ingredients together, throw on your Gryffindor apron (squeee!) and let’s make some magic:

Burnt Butter Brown Sugar Cupcakes 

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, burnt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp butter flavouring

How to make Burnt Butter: Cut up your cold unsalted butter and place it in a cold (not preheated) saucepan. Simmer over medium heat. The mixture will melt, then start foaming. Keep the heat as low as possible while still maintaining a simmer until your kitchen smells like pancakes. Once the foam has turned brown, take it off the heat and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. (Don’t’ let it go much longer or it can go from brown to black and then it’s icky. You want a nice amber colour. Strain the butter by any number of means –  cheesecloth, coffee filter, or a fine mesh strainer into a bowl to remove any sediment. Let the butter solidify slightly before using. This can take from a half hour to an hour depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

More than you’ve ever wanted to know about Burnt Butter: Also called “Beurre noisette,” burnt butter is the act of burning the milk solids in the butter, giving it a really rich and distinctive flavour. Great in a lot of recipes, but I love it in cupcakes. Try it in place of oil in your next cake mix. Or in some mashed potatoes. *Droooool.* 

1. Brown your butter in advance (see above for how-to.) Once butter has solidified but is still soft to the touch, preheat your oven to 350°F.

2. With your mixer on medium-high speed, cream burnt butter and 2 sugars until pale and fluffy (about 5 minutes.) 

3. While butter and sugar is creaming, sift together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

4. Reduce speed to low and add whole eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add yolks, and beat until thoroughly combined. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until just combined after each. Beat in vanilla and butter flavouring.

5. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each two-thirds full. Bake 16-18 minutes, rotating tins halfway through, until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Makes 25-30 cupcakes.

While your cupcakes are baking, let’s get started on the cream soda frosting.

This frosting is where the hints of soda-y-ness come in. I found the addition of actual cream soda in both the cupcakes and the frosting was not noticeable. You can’t add enough for the flavour to be fully present without watering down your batter/frosting. That’s where the magic of science comes in: 

Accio cream soda flavouring! 

These flavorings are available online or at Bulk Barn, and are great for all kinds of baksperimentation. If you can’t find the cream soda flavouring, root beer flavouring will also work in a pinch with some added vanilla.

Butterbeer Buttercream Frosting

  • 3 sticks salted butter, softened
  • 1 500g bag icing sugar sugar, sifted
  • 6 tbsp butterscotch ice cream topping (this one’s my favourite!)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cream soda flavouring or root beer flavouring

1. Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating after each addition, about 5 minutes. (After every 2 additions, increase speed to high, and beat for 10 seconds, then reduce speed to medium-high).

2. Add butterscotch and flavourings, and beat until buttercream is smooth. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (If refrigerated before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth.) Yields 4 cups of frosting.

Now put it all together: Frost your cooled cupcakes with your Butterbeer frosting and drizzle with some more of the butterscotch ice cream topping. If you want a super sweet blast of gooeyness, cut some little holes out of your cupcake tops with a knife or cupcake corer and fill them with another squeeze of butterscotch filling before frosting.

Then, if you’ve just come off a Harry Potter movie watching marathon and are so excited about the final installment of The Deathly Hallows coming out July 15th that you could pee your pants, make yourself a little Harry Potter out of fondant to dress up your cupcakes.

Seriously, I think I hit the cuteness ceiling on this cupcake. I just wanted to kiss his little frosting face. Which I sort of did. When I ate him.

Hellooo! Don’t eat me little face Jenny! Oim adorable and British!

Want some of your very own Harry Potter Butterbeer cupcakes? Drop me a line at and order up a dozen for your next event. Order a dozen or more and get a free wand! You’ll be the coolest Muggle on the block.

Just don’t feed them to the house elves. Makes ’em right surly.

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Showing 6 comments
  • Becki D.

    You are awesome!!

    I loooooooooooove the harry potter cupcake. So stinking cute!

  • Jonathan

    1. Those look fantastic and doing a butterbeer flavour is brilliant. Some Bernie Bots would be a a great side dish!

    2. Smodcast reference in the title :D?

  • Jenny

    Thanks guys!

    @Jonathan: TOTALLY a Smodcast reference in the title! ;D

  • Suzanna

    I just found your blog today and have to say, I'm in love! You've really got a wonderful thing going here.

    I am going to have to give these cupcakes a try! I'm planning a "Harry Potter Week" of festivities and crafts once the last movie comes out on DVD, and these will be perfect! I really appreciate you sharing your recipe, it means a lot when a person who does something as a business is nice enough to share something.

    Anywho, you've got my gears turning! I'd been planning some Jem and the Holograms and Sailor Moon cookies and possibly some superhero cake balls, but now I see the possibilities are endless! Hoping fondant isn't too terribly hard to work with. But is it tasty or is it just, like, decoration and you take it off before you eat the food? I've heard it's kind of plastic-y…

    Er, long comment is long! Sorry, I just didn't realize how much of my nerdiness I could infuse into baking!

  • Gen

    These looks wonderful and I can't wait to try them. I cannot for the life of me find the cream soda or root beer flavouring though except online and I don't want to pay $8 shipping :(. Do you have any suggestions for a substitution or should I suck it up?


  • Jenny Burgesse

    Hi Gen, I've only been able to find it online as well. You can use actual cream soda as flavouring, but it's much more subtle a flavour. You can't use very much as it makes your frosting runny. You could try boiling it down on the stove into a syrup perhaps? To remove some of the water.

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