Monday, July 25, 2011

Harry Potter Cupcakes: Pumpkin cake filled with homemade butterscotch

Most of you probably don't know how much I LOVE Harry Potter and children's literature in general.  I am truly a fan of the books and a big admirer of J.K. Rowling.  For Part 2 of Deathly Hallows, my husband and I unfortunately could not make it to the midnight showing of the film because it was a crazy busy weekend, but we did take our first trip to Whimsic Alley, an amazing Harry Potter themed shop in Los Angeles.  I purchased a Gryffyndor cardigan and Ali got a Gryffyndor tie.  Not only do they have a wand area, a clothing area (complete with actual robes) and a bunch of other really awesome merchandise, but the store looks just like Diagon Alley and has a Great Hall for Potter themed parties (is 26 too old to have a birthday there?)

For these cupcakes inspired by Harry Potter, I wanted the flavors to reflect foods common to the Wizarding world.  I know we're smack dab in the middle of summer, but since they often drink Pumpkin Juice and Butterbeer in the books, I decided to do a combination of pumpkin and butterscotch.  These cupcakes are pumpkin flavored cake filled with homemade butterscotch sauce and topped with cinnamon brown sugar swiss meringue buttercream.

For the Pumpkin Cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 cups Cake flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
1/4 cup water

Sift cake flour, AP flour, baking powder and spices together and set aside. Cream butter and brown/white sugars together by beating with paddle attachment of stand mixer for 3-4 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time. Add 1/2 of dry ingredients, alternating with pumpkin puree and water. Mix until well combined.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 way full with batter and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back to touch.

For Butterscotch sauce filling (recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen):

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Melt butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, cream and salt and whisk until well blended. Bring to a very gentle boil and cook for about five minutes, whisking occasionally. Whisk in the vanilla after sauce is removed from heat.

Place sauce in fridge until cooled.

For the Brown Sugar Cinnamon Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

4 egg whites
1 cup brown sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter
1 tbsp vanilla
3 tsp cinnamon

Simmer water in medium sized saucepan. Combine egg whites and brown sugar in large heat resistant mixing bowl and place mixing bowl inside of saucepan (DO NOT allow water to enter mixing bowl). Whisk continuously until sugar is fully dissolved and mixture is slightly foamy and bubbly (should register 160 degrees on a candy thermometer).

Place mixing bowl on stand mixer with whisk attachment. Beat on high for several minutes until mixture is thick and whipped, like meringue. Once mixture is fully cool, beat in butter one piece at time, mixing well after each addition. After all butter is added, switch to a paddle attachment and beat for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add in the vanilla extract and cinnamon and beat to combine.

To assemble:

Once cupcakes are fully cooled, core out the center of each one with a small paring knife. Pipe cooled butterscotch into the center of each cupcake. Once all cupcakes are filled, pipe buttercream on top of each cupcake.

For the fondant decorations:

I used Harry Potter "temporary tattoo kits"to make these edible decorations, which are really rubber stamps that come with "temporary tattoo ink."  The stamp kits can be purchased directly from Whimsic Alley's website.  To use, apply ink from edible food pens (you could also use food coloring mixed with some alcohol or vanilla, but the food pens are super easy because you can apply them directly on the stamp and the color dries really quickly) and stamp just like you would on a piece of paper.

For the Hogwarts Crests:
  • Draw a crest shape on a piece of thick card stock and cut it out with scissors.  HINT: If you're unhappy with the way your crest comes out, you can print a picture of an appropriate sized crest from the internet.   
  • Place the card stock crest on top of a piece of rolled white fondant and cut along the edges of the crest with a sharp paring knife. 
  • Allow the crests to dry until they are easy to draw on (give it at least a couple of hours).  Once they are dry, draw a cross through the center of the crest diagonally and horizontally in orange. 
  • Fill in each section of the crest with the appropriate colors using food pens (this is also why the food pens are a more convenient tool than food coloring). You could make red, blue, green, and yellow fondant and cut it to fit the crest. 
  • Once the colors are dry, add black edible ink to Hogwarts Crest stamp and press firmly onto the crest.  Fill in any gaps or sparse areas with the black pen.
For the HP logo discs:
  • Create a batch of fondant in your choice of color (I used a mixture of Americolor yellow, orange and gold to create mine)
  • Roll out fondant and cut into disc shapes (you don't have to use an actual fondant/gumpaste cutter- I used the top of one of my spice containers because I liked the size)
  • Allow each disc to dry for 1-2 hours or overnight before writing on them
  • Apply edible black ink to "HP" logo stamp and press firmly into disc.  Fill in any gaps/sparse areas with black pen.
For the Snitches:
  • Create a batch of gold colored fondant and white fondant
  • Trace wing shape onto a piece of card stock and cut out to use as a stencil
  • Cut out wings from white fondant
  • Roll gold fondant into small balls
  • Allow the snitch balls and wings to dry 
  • Apply wings to snitch body by using a bit of melted white chocolate or buttercream


  1. I love Harry Potter and your cupcakes are fabulous! I also love how you used the food writers on rubber stamps! I bet they taste great too!

  2. Thanks so much! My food writers are my new favorite thing :) They're so fun and easy to use!

  3. Where did you get the House color checker paper bake cups?

  4. I actually randomly found these cupcake liners at a Michael's Craft store not too long ago. They were not marketed as "Harry Potter" themed, they just happened to be the Gryffindor colors.