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.


  1. 1
    Patti says:

    That looks positively sinful! I sure could have used this recipe last week, but better late than never. (and thanks for that story about the cough drop earlier). Happy 12/12/12!

  2. 2
    CoSuDu says:

    Your son is a super-cutie! Mine is too but he’s almost 25 and won’t wear a sock monkey jacket anymore, LOL! Thank you for your wonderful website and the cute pictures!

  3. 3

    9 3/4 minutes-haha! :)
    This is perfect for my daughter’s requested Harry Potter birthday in Feb!

  4. 4
    Trish says:

    Your son is adorable! And this looks so tasty! And since you love blurring the lines between fiction and reality, have you been able to watch “Once Upon a Time” on ABC? I just discovered season 1 on Netflix, and I cannot stop watching it and am so sad that I am almost done with the season. Now I have to find a way to catch on up season 2. If you haven’t watched it yet, give it a try! I think you will love it!

    • 4.1

      We LOVE that show! Our kids do, too–it’s so fun to have something we all like that we can look forward to on Sunday nights! :)

    • 4.2
      Tiffany Heath says:

      You can watch Season 2 on Amazon Prime Instant Videos, and ABC has them online as well, (for free) but the first few episodes already “expired” and aren’t available for viewing anymore. I watched the entire season 1 on Netflix in a matter of a few days… husband was so glad when I finally watched all of them and got it out of my system. Then I found the series “Merlin” on Netflix, and here we go again! :) LOL

  5. 5
    JConnolly says:

    Shameless CUTE baby pictures are always welcome!

  6. 6
    amelia says:

    i don’t mean to alarm you, but i think we may have been separated at birth :). i had very similar experiences with books as a child, and i also associate harry potter with christmastime. in fact, i’ve been getting myself into the holiday spirit by watching the movies a bit at a time each night while i fold laundry or stuff envelopes. anyway, the point is, you made me smile this morning. so thanks! (also, you should read Divergent if you haven’t already. there’s a sequel called Insurgent and a third should be out fairly soon. it had the same effect on me as the Hunger Games…in fact, i’d have to put it down every now and then just to soak it up.)

    • 6.1

      Aw, crap, I always knew that twin separated at birth was gonna find me… :)

      • amelia says:

        you mean you KNEW? mom always told ME i just weighed ten pounds at birth all by myself. i knew that couldn’t be right… :)

    • 6.2
      Tanja Smith says:

      Also the Iron Fey books by Julie Kagawa are a really good read, I spent last christmas vacation reading them, and could not put them down. I borrowed them from work for my daughter, but she had to wait until I was finished with them, before she was able to read them.

      • Katie says:

        I LOVED the Iron Fey series. Now every time I think about getting a new electronic device, I worry about the Never Never.

  7. 7
    Jenn says:

    Your little guy is so stinkin’ cute!!! Even without the sock monkey, that face would be worth the shameless pic.

    This recipe sounds soo delicious. I can’t wait to try it. I did have a question, though. When it says near the end of the recipe to put 1/4 cup of the butterscotch into four chilled mugs, does that mean 1/4 cup in /each/ mug, or one single 1/4 cup divided evenly among the 4 mugs? Thanks!

  8. 8
    Holly says:

    Finally, a butterbeer recipe that actually sounds (and will most likely taste) how I think it should (based on the books!). The one in Florida just doesn’t sound right, and my daughter said it didn’t taste right…we love Harry Potter too, and will try this out this Christmas! Thank you for doing the work!!

  9. 9
    Carrie says:

    Glad to hear I’m not the only one who misses characters and can’t mix them with the next! I made this Butterbeer for my son’s birthday last year and my niece and nephew have been begging me to make it for Christmas ever since! It is really delicious.

  10. 10

    We had Butterbeer this spring at Harry Potter World at Universal and I almost died I was so over-the-moon happy. It was like a book come true to stand there with my kids staring the at Castle we have all read about so many times while in line to get in Ollivander’s and just look around at the quaint Hogsmeade Village they built and drink Butterbeer. Yes, I am a 34 yr old mom of 4 who loves Harry Potter. I swear I was more excited than the kids!!! Thanks for this recipe, now we can have it at home, too :)

  11. 11
    Nan says:

    You should always share pictures of beautiful babies in sock monkey hats. Especially if the baby is this cute. Recipes are also nice, but it’s tough to compete with something as delicious as a charming baby.

  12. 12
    Danielle says:

    I have to say that the picture of your cute little baby makes me excited that I’m expecting, even in the middle of morning sickness, and that’s saying something my friend! And as far as the butter beer recipe, I almost licked my computer screen.

  13. 13
    Tracy says:

    “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” — I see what you did there :) Well done. Can’t wait to try it.

  14. 14
    Melissa says:

    Okay, I have to admit that once I read Star’s Hollow, I really wasn’t able to concentrate on the rest of the post. I am thrilled that you are a Gilmore Girls fan and it makes me love this website even more! Thanks for all of your amazing recipes. I refer your site to friends all of the time.

  15. 15
    Y4LYFE says:

    This is dope.

  16. 16
    Jen says:

    I totally know what you mean after you finish a book or finish watching a TV series and these people you have become so close to just vanish! It’s kind of hard to recover, I often feel like I have lost a good friend.

  17. 17
    Jamie says:

    Your little guy is sooooo cute! Who needs butterscotch when you have a little monkey to chew on? (I feel safe saying this because my little 4-month old guy is totally chew-on-able too. = )

  18. 18
    Shayla says:

    I LOVE Harry Potter. Thank you!

  19. 19
    diana grace says:

    That is one cute baby…

  20. 20

    I love how you described your books. I feel like I have to come off a week long detox after finishing a series. I get all anxious and panicky when I get close to the end in series that I really like and am constantly wishing there was more. My only hope for myself is that my kids love these series as much as I do and I get to open their eyes to new worlds.

    P.S. Must. Make. This. Now.

  21. 21
    Jenny says:

    I’m giddily excited about this. And, like several of you, I totally get in to books–like, start speaking 18th century English after reading Jane Austen, stay up late at night thinking about the plots, into. Nice to know there are kindred spirits out there! 😉 Bless you for posting this!

  22. 22
    Lisa says:

    Agreed on all counts: Cute baby, book obsession, Harry Potter at Christmas. One question, though: Can you suggest how to make this with actual beer? Maybe a chocolate stout of some sort?

  23. 23
    Kari McGuire says:

    Adorable baby!!! Yummy recipe!! THANKS!!!!! :-)

  24. 24
    Phillip says:

    please please please tell me where you bought the sock monkey jacket!

  25. 25
    Carrie Overman says:

    I cannot even handle this post. I have fake conversations with my BFF Rory all the time and HP is my fav. I cried so hard at the premier of the last one that I tear-stained my recently at-home dyed Dumbledore shirt! I just love you guys.

  26. 26
    erika says:

    I’m still mad at Rory for dumping Logan. In my world they got married and had a baby girl named Lorelei. It’s a good world to live in. Especially now that you’ve shared BUTTERSCOTCH WHIPPED CREAM!!!!

  27. 27
    Annie says:

    YEA! I am so excited to try this. For Christmas my oldest is getting the HP books. He’s finally old enough to understand and appreciate them, so after we read about the butterbeer we’ll give this a go and bring the two worlds more together. Brenner will love it!

  28. 28
    Pamela says:

    Cutest sock monkey I’ve ever seen! Adorable!

  29. 29

    I made the sauce tonight and its good but it got grainy… Did I boil too long or not enough? Same thing happened when I tried to make a coconut candy last week. First time I’ve ever used a candy thermometer… I’m sure either IT is wrong… or I am! Or both!
    Thanks —

    • 29.1

      I can’t say for SURE, but my guess is that it wasn’t boiled long enough. And my guess is that your candy thermometer might be off a little–try bringing a pot of water to a full boil and then stick your candy thermometer in it. The boiling point of water is 212 degrees F, so if it registers above or below, that will tell you what you need to adjust for. Hope that helps!

  30. 30
    Jamie says:

    I can’t wait to try this with my kids!!!!! We are huge Harry Potter fans (okay – I’m the huge Harry Potter fan and they just kinda got sucked in with me). We took a trip to Universal Studios Florida JUST to go to the Harry Potter World. I was more excited than the kids -and I’m 36. We loved the butterbeer there, and this looks just like it. NEW CHRISTMAS TRADITION!!!

  31. 31
    Heidi hatch says:

    So glad to hear that I am not the only one who feels like it takes a few days to clear my head and realize it was a book! I get lost in the characters and their worlds. Hunger games left me with a “book hangover” for a few weeks. It was hard. I have actually never had butter beer before. This sounds amazingly yummy!

  32. 32
    April says:

    Do you know how many of those cute little jars can be filled with your yummy sauce recipe? Or how many cups your sauce yields?

  33. 33
    Edith says:

    I love Best Bites so much that I recently found myself thinking that if I couldn’t find a recipe for something I needed on this site, then I’d have to change what I was going to make.
    That said, I have a confession: This Butterbeer recipe is so sweet and rich that it was TOO MUCH. Even my youngest daughter, who proudly proclaims herself a sugar-fiend, could not drink this. It gave a couple of us heart burn.
    Maybe we should try it with just carbonated water? I loved the idea of whipping the cream with the butterscotch sauce. I am thinking I will do that with your buttermilk pancake syrup, which we all love. Hey, maybe I’ll just use that for our next go at Butterbeer!

  34. 34
    Edith says:

    When I said “maybe we should try it” I meant my family, not anyone else. Just so I don’t come across sounding too queenly.

    • 34.1

      Oh, Edith. :) First of all, your second comment was one of my most favorite comments EVER–I literally laughed out loud.

      We read a LOT of comments everyday and some of them are not so nice. Before I read this comment today, I was thinking about how so many people say so many nice things to us every day, but it’s those 2 or 3 rude comments that get under my skin and that I keep coming back to every day. And yours was not one of them. We COMPLETELY welcome constructive responses, criticism, and alternative ideas. Had you said, “You’re a disgusting sugar harlot who doesn’t have any idea what she’s doing!”, then I might be miffed. :)

      I totally get this being too sweet–for my husband and I, it was definitely more of a little novelty taste, something fun to have around, but it was a LOT to drink. So you make a good point. Diet cream soda is an option, but then you’re dealing with that yucky artificial sweetener aftertaste. I think the cream soda adds an element to this recipe, so I probably wouldn’t leave it out altogether–maybe mix it with some carbonated water?

      Another thought I had was to make it like an Italian soda and use a bit MORE of the butterscotch sauce to mix with plain carbonated water, adjusting it to however sweet you want it to be.

      Anyway. I’m glad you commented. If everyone left criticism like you did, the world would be a better place. :)

      • Edith says:

        I’m so relieved! I really felt bad after leaving that first comment. I tend to follow my mom’s motto–“Everyone is entitled to my opinion.” And my dad’s parents were theater people, so I tend to be dramatic. I’m glad you took it so well.

  35. 35
    Tiffany says:

    When I first read the Tim Riggins Brownie post, I had no clue who/what you were talking about. I recently watched the entire Friday Night Lights series (in a matter of days) and now I totally get it! I was so lost in that show I didn’t want it to end! In fact, after it was over, I googled all the characters. I don’t know if I just wanted to see them again or if I had to confirm that they were really “people”! Pretty sad, I know.

    p.s. Love your blog! Just received the new cookbook in the mail.

  36. 36
    Camille Anderson says:

    I planned to make the butter beer for Christmas dinner. I had everything ready and began to make it but when I went to put in the whipping cream, I couldn’t find it in my fridge. I searched everywhere but nothing… I asked my family and soon discovered that my young adult daughter that has Down syndrome had used it for her chocolate milk. ummmm… rich chocolate milk! It was in a small carton like the ones she had at school lunch. Because it was Christmas day I couldn’t go get more, so I substituted milk and cool whip… it turned out way….. way… too sweet. Someday I hope to try it again with real whipping cream, which I will hide better.

  37. 37
    Missy Wagner says:

    I made this recipe the other day with some friends. We made butterbeer and watched HP #1 (Daniel Radcliffe was just so darn cute as a little boy). We also made cake balls that we called “Golden Snitches”. Thankfully we didn’t finish them that day – my friend finished them after they were frozen. If we had I’m pretty sure we both would have gone into a diabetic coma!
    The butterbeer was delicious! But now you’ve got me on an HP kick and it won’t end until I watch all of them!

  38. 38
    Alicia says:

    I have a quick question. If you make the salted caramel for butterbeer, does it only make enough for 4 glasses? I am throwing a Harry Potter party for 14 kids and I need to have enough to go around. Thanks!

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