This year, we spent Christmas in central Florida with family. What else is in Central Florida other than family? Thats right! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Tia and I, being major fans, of COURSE decided to finally make the pilgrimage. We had a blast, and we highly recommend it to anyone who is even remotely a fan. Even those people who are not fans, like my husband, will enjoy the experience even if it’s just for the amazing artistry and roller coster technology.

If you have read anything about the success of Universal’s Wizarding World, you would have come across the wizard drink Butterbeer. Universal’s interpretation is basically a butterscotch flavored cream soda with a candy-sweet butterscotch foam on top. Part of the magic of this sweet drink, which you can either order cold or frozen like a slushy, is that they use that butterscotch foam on top to mimic the head of a beer!

So let’s fast forward a month – while searching through recipe ideas online, Tia came across a recipe for butterbeer cupcakes. We decided we just had to try! We thought the butterbeer at Universal was delicious, however, we found the butterbeer cupcake recipe lacking. The cake was dense and didn’t have a lot of flavor, although we both agreed that the frosting with the recipe was almost exactly the flavor of butterbeer as we experienced it.

We decided that we would try our own rendition of the cupcakes and started concocting a cake recipe that might do the drink more justice and it took several batches to perfect. To capture the same butterbeer experience as a whole, we decided that the cake should taste more like cream soda and the frosting or topping should have the butterscotch flavoring. The whole thing should be light and fluffy and, if at all possible, mimic that look of a beer.

Finally we managed to get the cake to be light and airy, with the creamy vanilla flavor of cream soda. It was all in the technique of incorporating air into the batter that gave us the amazing texture of these cupcakes. Outside of the traditional leavening agents we took our time between adding ingredients which turned out to be our secret ingredient. We have included some photos of what the batter looked like at a couple of stages to help guide you, that is – if you decide to try it out!

  • Cream the sugars with the butter until the resulting mixture is lighter in color and fluffy
  • Add the eggs one at a time and allowing it to whip until the resulting emulsion is fluffy after each addition
  • Slowly add the sour cream and once again allow the mixture to whip until fluffy
Not finished Creaming Yet!Finished Creaming Sugar and Butter!With Eggs Added!Finished Batter - Thicker than most cakes, but light and airy!

Now we just had to decide on the finishing touches – how were we going to assemble and decorate our cupcakes?

Creative Clue

The idea to try and make these look as much like beer as possible resulted in dabbling around with topping these with a meringue instead of a frosting (and maybe using the buttercream to fill them). After numerous tries and not being completely convinced a meringue was the way to go, we found gold sugar crystals that we thought might add a little something to the cupcakes. These ended up being our runner-up in decorating options to a cross-hatched drizzle pattern with butterscotch over the buttercream frosting, and a few very happy helpful taste testers agreed.

Although we liked the buttercream from the original butterbeer recipe, we decided not to use it because our cake was sweeter and more flavorful (we didn’t want anything that would overpower it). Also since the original buttercream was thicker it wouldn’t necessarily jive with our idea of having a light and fluffy overall experience. We used  4 tablespoons of our homemade butterscotch to add flavor to our favorite European Buttercream recipe. In the long run we decided against injecting the cupcakes with butterscotch as done in the original butterbeer cupcake recipe. We thought it might distract from the flavor of the cake and maybe even weigh it down, and the results were pretty awesome! Not an exact copy of the Universal liquid version but they do hit some very reminiscent notes, but we will let you decide if they are butterbeer cupcakes or not.

Side note: we brought these by a friend’s house when they were completed, and they disappeared so quick we were astounded! This was a great experience for us and we cant wait to create our own new recipes in the future.

Butterscotch Soda Cupcakes
Recipe type: Cupcakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yields: 30
  • 12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 11/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter flavoring
  • ¾ cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 21/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cream soda
  1. Pour cream soda into a bowl and mix, allowing bubbles to escape and set aside.
  2. Place butter in a separate bowl and beat with electric mixer until smooth.
  3. Add granulated and brown sugar and beat for 5-8 minutes, or until lighter in color and fluffy in texture.
  4. Add one egg at a time, beating long enough in between that they are fully incorporated and batter is fluffy before your next addition.
  5. Add extract and flavoring and mix.
  6. Mix in sour cream and beat for 3-5 minutes.
  7. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  8. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the cream soda to the batter (half of the flour, half of the cream soda, etc…) until just combined, do not over mix.
  9. Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes for cupcakes - or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
  10. Let cool to room temperature then top with butterscotch buttercream frosting and a drizzling of butterscotch.