Monday, November 22, 2010

Apple #494: Butterbeer

I went with a friend of mine to see the premiere of the new Harry Potter movie the other night.  My friend -- I'll call her Brigitta -- decided she wanted to make some Butterbeer for the occasion.  She looked up recipes online and discovered scads of them.

Some are non-alcoholic, some are made with alcohol.  Very few are made with actual beer.  Brigitta decided she wanted to find a recipe that was most like what probably would have been sold at the Three Broomsticks, and according to what she read, this meant that it probably involved cider. It should also taste butterscotchy, should be able to get foamy, and could be served warm or cold.

So my friend Brigitta embarked on an adventure of trial and error, testing out a few recipes and making her own adjustments, until she came up with something she liked.  This was what we had the night of the premiere.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione, running to get some of Brigitta's Butterbeer
(HP7 movie poster from the Arizona Reporter)

I don't have Brigitta's exact recipe, mind.  She didn't have any particular measurements written down; she was going more by proportions.  I didn't write down any measurements either because I was observing and documenting the historic event.

The ingredients:
  • regular cider
  • hard cider  (she used Strongbow, but you can choose your favorite)
  • vanilla butter & nut extract, which she said was the closest extract available to butterscotch
  • Smucker's Butterscotch Sundae Syrup (you could use any butterscotch topping)
  • whipping cream
First she poured some of the regular cider into the pitcher (yes, that's a Brita pitcher). I'm going to guess it was about a cup's worth of regular cider.

Next she emptied all six bottles of Strongbow into the pitcher.  She said she'd never made such a large batch before, that usually she makes only about half as much, with three bottles of Strongbow.

In the pitcher are the two kinds of cider, and here she's adding the extract.  Notice, no measuring spoons or anything.  If I had to guess, I'd say this was maybe a little less than a teaspoon's worth.

Next she added the butterscotch topping.  She squeezed about as much as you'd put on a large sundae, but then later added quite a lot more.  I'm going to say it was maybe half a cup's worth?  Or more.

Then she whisked it up.  When she did this, I said, "Ooh, whisking."  She said, "Yes, the whisking is very important."

That's because the whisking is what makes it foamy, as you can see here.  This is also when it started taking on the butterscotch color.

Then she added a dollop of cream.  She said it looks like it curdles at the surface a bit, but once you whisk it up, it all mixes in just fine.

After adding the cream we tasted it, and that was when she decided to add more butterscotch syrup.  When I tasted it, I looked at her in surprise.  "It tastes just like butterscotch candy!" I said.

"Yeah," she said, "it does."

You know, these things.
(Photo from Nuts Online)

All in all, Brigitta's recipe made a little over 2 liters.  You could make all of this in a pot on the stove over low heat to make a warm version if you wanted to.  We opted for the cold version.

Her husband and I all had some before the movie, and it was downright tasty.

This is by no means the number one official Butterbeer recipe (there isn't one of those).  Lots of people have lots of different ideas about how to make it.  If you want to try some other versions of Butterbeer, here are some other places to look:

  • MuggleNet's list of Madame Rosmerta's Recipes. They're not actually Madame Rosmerta's recipes, but those of members of MuggleNet who've come up with their best guesses. Most of the Butterbeers listed are made with cream soda.
  • Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade version. Yes, Sandra Lee is crazy, but this recipe doesn't look too bad. Uses condensed milk and cream soda. Oh, wait a minute, it's got whipped butter in it too. OK, she might still be crazy.
  • 10 different versions. Most here are non-alcoholic, but some call for butterscotch schnapps, or scotch and cinnamon
  • Buttered Beere (1588 version). This site claims to have the original recipe for Buttered Beere, which appeared in a cookbook in 1588.  Includes 5 egg yolks, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, plus 3 bottles of pale ale.  When you boil it as directed, they say, the alcohol will burn off.

    If you try out Brigitta's recipe, or any of the others, let us know what you think.

    Enjoy the movie!

    Image by Arabella Figg at The Hogshead


    1. Flavor review? :)

      Is it sweet? Strong?

    2. It tasted exactly like butterscotch! There isn't much more to say than that. If you like butterscotch candy, you'll like this. If you don't, you won't. It wasn't especially strong, but it is alcoholic. But again, it tasted exactly like butterscotch.


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