Friday, July 8, 2011

Butterbeer Reprise

I admit it: I felt a little envious that Julie got to try butterbeer last time and I didn’t.  So I decided to try out her butterbeer #3, which had her recommendation as the most authentic. I made a few adjustments based on her review of it, and my own imagination of what butterbeer ought to taste like (I think Julie and I had pretty much the same idea in our heads).  It took me about ten tries to get it right, and now, I believe, it is the perfect butterbeer recipe.  

How did I judge if it was perfect or not?  Here was my criteria, created after many many reads through the series and a careful study before I started creating my recipe:
  • Must taste good warm, enough to warm you up after a cold afternoon in Hogsmeade.  When Harry first tasted butterbeer, he “drank deeply.  It was the most delicious thing he’d ever tasted and seemed to heat up every bit of him from the inside” (POA 201).
  • Must taste good chilled, as butterbeer is most often served in bottles meant to be kept cold, but still retain the warm buttery flavor.
  • Must be slightly fizzy.  Not milky, and not super fizzy – just enough carbonation to add the pleasant sensation of a bubbly drink.
  • Must have a butterscotch flavor, without being sickeningly sweet.  In an interview with Bon Appetit magazine, J.K. Rowling said “I imagine it to taste a little bit like less-sickly butterscotch” (Harry Potter Lexicon).  It can’t be so sweet that it’s repulsive, but it also can’t be so fizzy that it would be watery warm.
  • Must have a subtle flavor incorporated with the butterscotch to compliment it and make it uniquely “butterbeer” and not “butterscotchbeer.”
  • Must taste good! 
In the books, butterbeer has a very slight alcohol content – enough to make a little house elf tipsy, or lower inhibitions very slightly.  But “‘it’s not strong, that stuff,’” as Harry pointed out (GOF 536).  Seeing as I don’t drink alcohol, I chose to ignore this bit.  This is family friendly, alcohol-free butterbeer.  Other than the lack of alcohol, this recipe is completely loyal to the books.

I have a slightly different recipe depending on if you intend to drink the butterbeer warm or cold.  This is because carbonation doesn’t really work with warm drinks, and you want it to be a little fizzier cold, so you have to add the club soda after it’s chilled a little (also note that there is a little more club soda in the cold version).  Try it both ways!  It’s super fast to whip up, once you have all the ingredients.

This recipe calls for butterscotch syrup.  Don’t have any, and too cheap to buy some?  Make it homemade!  That’s what I did.  It was super easy.  I just followed the detailed instructions (with pictures!) at<-- That recipe makes the best butterscotch I’ve ever tasted, and I highly recommend using it rather than buying some butterscotch syrup.  If you insist on buying some, though, be sure to add a little vanilla to your butterbeer.  It makes all the difference in the world!


To serve warm:
2 tbs butterscotch syrup
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup cream soda
1 cup club soda
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch cinnamon
Dash salt

Heat butterscotch, butter, and spices in a saucepan until melted.  Stir in cream and club soda.  Serve immediately. (By serving immediately, you get that nice stack of foam as pictured above)

To serve cold:
2 tbs butterscotch syrup
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup cream soda
1 ¼ cups club soda
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch cinnamon
Smidgen salt

Heat butterscotch, butter, and spices in a saucepan until melted.  Stir in cream soda.  Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.   Carefully add club soda, stirring gently until it is incorporated.  Chill for at least another 5 minutes before serving.
The main ingredients.  The stuff in the measuring cup is my homemade butterscotch
Melting the butter and butterscotch.
After adding the cream soda
Delicious chilled butterbeer
This recipe is perfect for me.  It fulfills all of my requirements.  This butterbeer, served warm, is sweet like butterscotch, but not sickeningly sweet, and has a small hint of nutmeg.  It warms you to the core as it goes down, and leaves your lips a little buttery as you sip.  Great for a stormy day.

And you know what? I like it even better chilled!  The flavors blend together spectacularly!  It is a sweet, but still refreshing drink, that still has the warm buttery flavor that seems to warm you up even without higher temperatures.  It has just the right amount of fizz.  I could definitely see myself nursing a butterbeer that Fred and George had nicked from Hogsmeade after a triumphant Quidditch match.

Just FYI, when you chill the butterbeer, some of the butterscotch tries to harden with some butter, and it rises to the top like thick cream.  When you stir in the club soda, it will all incorporate fine.  Don’t skim it off or anything.  That’s part of the delicious buttery flavor!
The goopy stuff that forms when it chills. Just stir it back in.
I’m glad I finally got to try butterbeer, and this recipe perfectly fulfilled my expectations.  As I endeavor to reread the entire Harry Potter series in the coming week before the show’s opening, I will be able to easily imagine its delicious flavor each time the characters take a sip.  It’s HP fan heaven, if there ever was one.

Special thanks to my madre for taste testing!  She helped me get it just right.

P.S. The winner of the poll was Peppermint Toads!  That falls into Anna's territory.  Keep an eye out for that post next week!


Anonymous said...

I've been looking for a recipe all week to make to bring to the drive in for HP and this is just perfect! Thank you so so much!

Unknown said...

Ever tried an adult version? I kno this is a kids drink but I'm sure Dumbledore or Hagrid would put a few of these back before hitting the hay. Maybe some butterscotch snapps or baileys? I would love to have one to loosen me up for the movie weekend:) Awesome work so far!

Coltraine12 said...

I agree with Kathleen. Me and my friends are obsessed with Harry Potter and we have been trying to find a recipe for a long time and this one looks like the best. Thanks very much for putting it up.
- Coltin