As you guys may have noticed from some of my posts, I have a tendency to kind of maybe blur the lines between fiction and reality. I love to read (although, thanks to this guy, if I try to read anything more substantial than Entertainment Weekly, I fall asleep in about 5 minutes.

And yes, that was just a shameless picture of my baby. Come on, he’s wearing a sock monkey jacket–how could I not?!)

Anyway. Blurring reality. Fact and fiction. After I finish a book (or a TV series), it seems like I can’t start something new for a few days because I have to process the fact that those characters and that world aren’t a part of my world anymore, at least not actively.

I was a little kid that lived in another world. And then, as I approached my teenage years, it was kind of like the real world became a sad, hard place and I felt like I lost that ability to become lost in another place that existed in my imagination; I thought that was some sad, inevitable part of growing up. And then I graduated from high school and went to college and discovered Harry Potter and also discovered that that part of me wasn’t gone. I love the Harry Potter books because they taught me to believe in magic again, that I could lose myself in the world of Hogwarts or Katniss Everdeen or Dillon, Texas or Star’s Hollow or Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

(Yes, I just took 15 precious minutes when i could have been sleep-reading to Mad Men myself. It was totally worth it.)

So yeah. Harry Potter. I’m not sure how it happened exactly, but Harry Potter has kind of become part of our Christmas traditions in our family. Maybe it’s because the movies often came out around Christmastime, or because there were almost always Christmas scenes in the books and movies, but we always end up spending a few days around Christmas holed up watching Harry Potter movies when the weather is ugly. So…while butterbeer isn’t warm or spicy or traditionally Christmas-y in any way, it’s a part of that magical world that I have so many happy memories of.

I swear up and down every year that I’m not going to post any more recipes that require a candy thermometer because there are so many variables when it comes to candy and that it is hard to get good, consistent results when people across all sorts of elevations, humidity levels, and skill levels are trying these recipes. And yet, here I am posting a candy-ish recipe, and I’m gonna do it again next week. I’m a glutton for punishment.

That said, this is the easiest, most forgiving candy recipe on the blog. All you have to do is get to 240 degrees and then you’re good–you don’t have to watch for certain colors or consistencies or smells or boil it for 9 3/4 minutes after you get to 240. You’ve just gotta get there.

If you’re planning on making butterbeer, pop 4 large glasses or beer mugs in the freezer and 4 12-ounce bottles of cream soda into the refrigerator.

For the salted butterscotch, you’re going to need 1 cup of brown sugar (dark or light, just depends on your preference), 2 tablespoons water, apple cider vinegar (weird, I know, but there’s so much sweetness going on here you need something to cut it), kosher salt, heavy whipping cream, and rum extract.

In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar and water. Heat, stirring frequently, over medium heat until a candy thermometer registers 240 degrees. Reduce heat to low and, whisking constantly, add in butter, salt, and vinegar and whisk until smooth. Slowly stir in 1/4 cup of the heavy cream, reserving the rest for later, and whisk until smooth and combined and then remove from heat. Add the rum extract and allow to cool to room temperature. You can use this as a sauce/ice cream topping/syrup, or you can save it for the butterbeer.

To make the butterbeer, combine 2 tablespoons of the salted butterscotch with the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream

and whip with electric beaters until soft peaks form. Set aside.

Pour 1/4 cup of the butterscotch (approximately) into each of the chilled glasses.

whisk in 1/4 cup of cream soda in each glass so it becomes frothy. Then add the remaining cream soda to each glass.

Divide the whipped cream mixture evenly among the four glasses and serve immediately.

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