Made Butterbeer (257/366)

257ButterbeerTop“Beer, it’s the best damn drink in the world.
Jack Nicholson


We just got back from an awesome trip that went from SoCal to Florida, to the Bahamas – with lots of adventures packed into each place – and had such a cool time.  But the *coolest* if you’ll pardon the pun, had to be the famous frosty mugs of Butterbeer we enjoyed at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

I’ve been a fan of the Harry Potter books since the first one came out in the late 90’s, and being transported to a magical world while reading J. K. Rowling‘s stories was so engaging.  When the movies started to come out I (along with most of the world!) was of course delighted, and seeing the books come to life on the big screen was another fantastic way to immerse oneself in the magic.  But being able to actually visit Universal‘s recreation of so many whimsically wonderful places from Harry’s world … and then to actually *drink* the famous Butterbeer that basically all Harry Potter fans had dreamed of for years?  That truly was a *literal* dream come true.  Ha ha ha!  See what I did there?!

Now, my love for the Harry Potter universe, the sweltering heat in Orlando, and the wonderful surroundings we enjoyed were all factors in the experience I had, I’m sure.  But honestly, for me at least, those magical mugs of beautiful Butterbeer really did live up to the SUPER hype that was built up around them (and I really didn’t expect them to).  We loved these brews so much, we made sure to buy enough Butterbeers in souvenir mugs to have our own set, and vowed to make this life-changing libation at home.  Hey, it’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

Now, there’s no “official” recipe for Butterbeer (it was never listed in the books), but apparently the version at Universal was taste-tested and approved by J. K. herself, and there are several copy-cat recipes online by fans.  This one by the Associated Press seemed the most legit to me, partially because it had more ingredients (and also, come on!  It’s the Associated Press – they’ve got connections.  Ha ha ha!).  With a few tweaks after reading fan recipes who had tried this version themselves, here’s how we made our Butterbeer.

4 servings

1 cup light or dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons water

6 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

3/4 cup heavy cream, divided (1/4c for the butterbeer caramel, the rest for the foam topping)

1/2 teaspoon rum extract (we didn’t use this – rum extract IMO sucks, and other fans who tested this recipe didn’t feel it was needed)

Four 12-ounce bottles cream soda (we used IBC – for the best Butterbeer, use the best cream soda you can find)

First the sugar and water gets heated on the stove over medium heat.  Stir this frequently, and use a candy thermometer – cook until it reaches 240F.  You’re making caramel, but you don’t want it to burn.
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Next, the butter, salt, cider vinegar, and heavy cream go in.  Stir it all up to combine, then take it off the heat and let it cool to room temperature.  If you’re using rum extract, add it after the mixture has cooled.
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Homemade butterscotch caramel.  YUM.

About 1/4c of this cooled mixture goes into your Butterbeer mug (oh yeah).  Then add about that much of the cream soda and give it a stir first, to incorporate the caramel and soda before pouring the rest in (so you don’t just have a bunch of syrup on the bottom of the mug).
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But wait!  There’s more!  Butterbeer is nothing without the magical froth on top.  For this, 2 Tbsps of the butterscotch caramel goes into a mixing bowl …

… with the rest of the cream, and it all gets whipped together.  You want to thicken this mixture, but not completely whip it into whipped cream.

It’s *almost* Butterbeer … needs that lovely “foam”.
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Now, here’s a wrinkle.  At the park, in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, they’ve got the foam slightly frozen (like an extra rich and almost custardy soft-serve), which adds to the body of the frothy stuff on top, and helps those bubbles to form (and stay intact!), but that’s not so easy to do at home.  This version still gives you a really great topping though, and its flavor totally rivals the original.  If I had more patience, I might try chilling this mix for a bit in the freezer and seeing what I could do from there, but come on, seriously?  How could anyone wait for that?
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Yup, I’m totally having some as I write this.

Alright, to be honest, there’s no way that mug would have lasted that long – I finished that loveliness and am still writing.  But it was wonderful while it lasted.  Now I have to figure out a way to NOT make this every single day onward.  It’s super easy, and totally delicious.  Cheers!


Related Links:
Visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (254/366)
IBC Cream Soda 6 ct – 4 Pack (Amazon)

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