A few weeks ago, our local newspaper did a feature on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios in Orlando. You may recall that last year, on our trip to Universal, we got a peak at what the new park was going to look like.
Certainly there was lots of construction to be completed, but it was still cool to see what they did have completed. One of the amazing rollercoaster rides that we went on has now been incorporated into the TWWOHP and renamed the "Dragon Challenge." So, in a way, we've been on one of the Harry Potter rides. Small comfort knowing that we won't be able to visit the park for a few years yet.
Evidently, according the newspaper article, one of the hot items at TWWOHP is butterbeer. Naturally, Universal isn't giving away the official recipe--and if you Google the recipe there are MANY different versions, all of which seem to be quite a bit easier to make than this one--but the Huffington Post created a recipe they think is a close match to the drink everyone is slurping up in Orlando.
Just for kicks and because I can't drink any real beer, Andrea and I thought that it would be fun to try it.
- 1 cup light or dark brown sugar
- 2 T water
- 6 T butter
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/2 t cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup heavy cream, divided (btw, "divided" means that this is the total amount you'll need but at various measurements throughout the recipe)
- 1/2 t rum extract (imitation)
- Four 12-ounce bottles cream soda (or a 2 liter works fine too)
- (optional) Reducio charm to counter the effects of all those calories on your waistline
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring often, until the mixture reads 240 F on a candy thermometer.
Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 cup heavy cream. Set aside to cool to room temperature. (Unless you want to drink it hot, then don't wait for it to cool at all.)
It helps to have a really cute helper.
Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the rum extract. (We put the mixture in the fridge in order to help the cooling process along; we're impatient like that.)
While you're waiting for the mixture to cool, you can snack on some chocolate if you want. As if all that brown sugar and butter aren't enough calories (to Julianne's credit, she didn't drink any butterbeer so a little treat wasn't too out of line).
In a medium bowl, combine 2 T of the brown sugar mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Use an electric mixer to beat until just thickened, but not completely whipped, about 2-3 minutes. (As always when whipping cream, it helps if the bowl and the beaters are chilled.) (Also, we beat it longer than 2-3 minutes; maybe 4-5.)
To serve, divide the brown sugar mixture between 4 tall glasses (about 1/4 cup for each glass). Add 1/4 cup of cream soda to each glass, then stir to combine.
Fill each glass nearly to the top with additional cream soda, then spoon the whipped topping over each.
Stir the topping in so that it gets a little fizzy, and then drink up. Do it proper and get the mustache.
Verdict: This is a seriously rich drink with strong butterscotch overtones. It was so sweet, I actually couldn't finish mine, leaving me to suspect that you could easily divide the syrup into six glasses rather than four (and that's coming from someone who regularly drinks soda). Also, using club soda instead of cream soda would probably help cut the sweet-factor down. That being said, Jason finished his and then finished mine, so evidently some people can handle their butterbeer just fine, thankyouverymuch.
It would be an easy drink to prep before a party--having the cooled syrup and whipped cream ready in the fridge--and then just pour the cream soda in before serving. It is quite tasty, and even though it takes a little longer to make than the dozens of other easier recipes, I'm sure this one has a more complex and delicious flavor. Also, you rarely have to worry about drinks being too sweet if you're serving them to the younger set. They'd drink this up and then chase it down with a sugar pixie stick.
It was definitely fun to try out, and now we are experimenting to see if we can do a frozen butterbeer, ala Frappuccino style. I'll let you know if we can find a suitable method!