Caramel 'Butterbeer' Cupcakes

So I have to admit, I have never read Harry Potter, or seen the movies. However, when Butterbeer related recipes started flooding foodgawker, I was curious. Not really having any sort of clue what the heck Butterbeer was, I browsed a heap of these posts, and decided I definitely wanted to try them out. What is really interesting is that all the butterbeer cupcake recipes require cream soda. Now 99% of all cream soda I have ever seen is the pink, raspberry kind. (Of course, the week later I found the non-pink , non-raspberry version!) But that didn't stop me from baking these Harry Potter inspired 'Butterbeer Cupcakes'. The fizzy (soft drink) adds a beautiful lightness to the cake, which has a soft butterscotch-y caramel flavour. And due to the absence of 'butter flavouring', and butterscotch chips in Australia, I used ghee as a replacement for the butter flavouring (which I have no idea whether it added to the flavour or not) and then made a batch of caramel sauce to substitute for the caramel ganache.

 Overall these were a fabulous success as a delicious cupcake, and while I can't tell you if they actually have a butterbeer flavour, I can tell you that they now officially are my go-to special caramel cupcake recipe :)

Caramel Butterbeer Cupcakes

240g plain flour 
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
115g butter, softened 
100g white sugar
100g dark brown sugar, packed (I used normal brown sugar with a small spoonful of molasses)
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon butter flavoring (I used a spoonful of ghee - clarified butter - instead)120mls buttermilk 
120mls cream soda (I had to use the pink kind, which still worked)

Caramel Sauce
300mls thickened cream
250g brown sugar
60g butter, chopped
1 tsp vanilla

Caramel Buttercream
115g unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp butter flavouring ( I used a spoonful of ghee)
450g icing (confectioners) sugar
55mls Caramel Syrup (or as desired)
1 tsp. vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to  180°C (350°F). Line two small cupcake/muffin tins with cases. Whisk together flour, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until pale. Gradually add sugar and cream until combined and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each. Add vanilla and butter flavouring (or ghee) and beat until smooth. 

Add the buttermilk, cream soda then flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating between each, and beating after each addition until just combined. (i.e. start with 1/3 buttermilk, mix, 1/3 cream soda, mix, then 1/3 flour mixture, and mix. Repeat 2 more times.) 

Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full. Bake for approx. 12-15 minutes or until tops spring back when touched, and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let tins stand for one minute then transfer cupcakes to wire racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the caramel sauce. Combine the sugar, cream, vanilla and butter in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until it comes to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for a further 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer to a bowl/container and refrigerate until thickened up.

Next, make the caramel buttercream. In a large bowl, beat butter until pale. Gradually add icing sugar, alternating with the caramel sauce, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add the vanilla, beating until combined, and the icing is smooth and creamy. (More or less caramel can be added to bring frosting to desired consistency).

To assemble: transfer caramel sauce to a squeeze bottle with small round tip. Insert tip into the center of each cupcake and apply a little pressure to 'fill' the cupcake with some sauce. 
 Transfer frosting to a piping bag and pipe onto cupcakes using desired tip (I used a medium plain, round tip), or spread onto cupcakes using spatula. Drizzle caramel sauce on top if desired.

Makes approx. 18-24 cupcakes using small cupcake tin. Store in an air-tight container. Best consumed within 2-3 days.

Source: Adapted from Amy Bites

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