Birthday Shannagins

I just finished a book called Fan Girl by Rainbow Rowell. It is about this girl named Cath, who coincidentally is a lot like me. She is entering her first year in college, along with her twin sister, Wren. Both girls are completely obsessed with a series of books that revolve around this fictional character, Simon Snow. {ie. Harry Potter in my case.}  She is so enthralled with the books, that she writes fan-fiction to keep the characters alive in their magical world of Mage and has thousands of followers waiting with baited breath for the next chapter to be released . She is otherwise known as, a complete genius and obvious introvert. {See? Just like me.} She stays up all night reading and writing in her baggy sweatpants and hair in a bun, while her twin, the more confident one, goes out to frat parties and lives the typical college life.

After I finished the book, it got me thinking. Could I write Harry Potter fan-fiction? I know it exists. I know of several forums that authors use just for the sake of Potter fan-fiction. And I have read the books so many times, that I feel like I was a part of their life, just as much as they were a part of mine. And for that matter, could I create a world like J.K. Rowling did? On paper napkins? Or even Post-its? My mom definitely thinks I can.


For now, I am satisfied with writing about my Potter themed birthday.

Potter birthday

I just so happened to design and construct my own cake this year. My usual request is a double stuff, extra-large cookie cake from the American Cookie Co. I know. I get it. I’ve heard it a million times. There are a ton of bakeries and patisseries around my area and I choose a lame, commercially manufactured cookie cake. But moooooomm, it tastes like my childhood. Anyway, with the Potterhead theme underway, I thought it only fitting that I make my own cake.

Potter birthdayI’ll admit, I got a little carried away. The more I thought about it, the more extravagant things got. I wanted to do my first ever 3-layer cake. Then I wanted to construct my first ever fondant owl. Then the fondant had to have a cobblestone affect. Finally, I had to have a banner. Because duh. Who doesn’t love a banner on their cake? So I made my favorite vanilla spice cake with whipped Nutella frosting and then wrapped my layers in homemade marshmallow fondant. I dyed it grey and made a cobblestone imprint with a fondant stamp I had. Then I brushed the cobblestone with confectioner sugar so that they would stand out a bit. {However, I soon discovered that the sugar melts into the fondant a whole lot faster than I expected.} Finally, I piped the extra Nutella frosting I had around my layers. I constructed my fondant owl using a bunch of videos I found on YouTube, along with my collection of fondant tools and cut outs. :)

Potter birthday

Each layer was a different house color for Gryffindor. The bottom layer was yellow and the top layers were red. Unfortunately, these were the only photos I had of the cake because we devoured it not long after they were taken.

In addition to the cake, all of us went out to do a little Potter painting.

Potter birthday

The amazing staff at Painting With a Twist happily created this one-of-a-king, never before introduced, Harry Potter inspired painting just for me. If you look carefully, you will notice Hogwarts at the top of the mountain, the Whomping Willow to the left, and a few of us even put in a Hedwig. Because Hedwig never really goes away, does he?

I call it…99 Problems but a Snitch Ain’t One.

Potter birthdayThe boys got a little carried away with the paint…

No one told them it had to stay on the canvas.

Potter birthdayI think pink works for him…

Potter birthdayI adore my friends and family. They made my birthday oh, so, special…here are just a few.

Potter birthdayFellow girly geek and con participant.

Potter birthdayMy pretty Momma…

Potter birthdayA big thank you to everyone who made it out. It was one of my best 29th birthdays so far!

Butter Beer Pound Cake

Living in a small town has its ups and downs.

For example, I can go anywhere in town and it is almost certain that I will run into someone I know. We might grab a coffee or just catch up for a few minutes, but it’s nice to see a familiar face when I am out and about. That’s also a bad example because if you are au natural and in your sweats, then you are almost guaranteeing that you are going to run into someone you know. It has totally happened. On several occasions.

Another example is the festivals. We almost always have some sorta block party or festival going on. I love all the one-of-a-kind crafts, food vendors, and the classic rock bands you find at a small town festival. And they come up with all sortsa reasons to get together. It could be an art walk or a fall festival or even a party to celebrate the woolly worm. That’s happened too.

One of the worst things about living in a small town is that when you are a baker/girly geek/collector of all things nerdy, it is hard to find what you are looking for. A few weeks ago, I thought I would get a heads start on my Halloween baking. I wanted to buy a 4-pack of Butter Beer at my local grocery store. Before I even step foot in the store, I looked it up to make sure they would/could carry it. It is a bit of a hike to get to a good grocery store, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t go for nothing. I did. Go for nothing. They didn’t have it nor could they order it.

So I went home, did a bit more research, thought about ordering it online for a gazillion dollars, and then headed to my small town specialty grocer. As it turns out, they didn’t have it either, but they could order it. So I ordered two 4-packs…or so I thought. When they called me a few weeks later, they said my two cases were ready. Cases. As in six 4-packs in each case. A total of 48 bottles of Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer. As in more Butter Beer than the Hubs and I put together could drink in a month.

With all that Butter Beer, I thought about throwing a HP party. And I still just may, but for now I made you pound cake…with Butter Beer.

Butter beer pound cakeThis pound cake reminds me of all the Sprite and 7-Up pound cake recipes that are out there. I have never made one with soda before, so I just took my ole trusty pound cake recipe and altered it a bit. You know. With Butter Beer. Because I have so many.

Butter Beer Pound Cake

I even put some in my icing. Although it could totally stand alone.

Butter Beer Pound Cake

Butter Beer Pound Cake


    Butter Beer Pound Cake:
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup {2 sticks} unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon imitation butter flavoring
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • Butter Beer Icing:
  • 2 cups confectioner sugar
  • 2-2 1/2 tablespoonsFlying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer
  • 4 teaspoons heavy cream


    Butter Beer Pound Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and spray desired pan with flour baking spray.
  2. In your stand mixer bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy.
  3. Add sugar and mix well; scraping the sides of the bowl and mixing again.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time until combined.
  5. Add milk, vanilla, imitation butter flavoring, and butter beer.
  6. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
  7. Slowly add your flour mixture to your wet ingredients until blended.
  8. Spoon into greased pan; level with a spatula to smooth out the top.
  9. Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted comes out clean.
  10. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before removing your pan.
  11. Let cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
  12. Butter Beer Icing:
  13. Combine confectioner sugar, butter beer, and heavy cream in your stand mixer bowl until desired consistency.
  14. Spoon over pound cake and smooth over top.
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Butter Beer Pound Cake

Disney, Hogwarts, and Butterscotch Pie

If you have been following me on Facebook or reading my latest posts or haven’t been living under a rock, you already know that the Hubster and I took our vacation to Florida last week.  This was in part to celebrate my birthday, but it was also to visit family and Orlando.

The Hubs and I are total Potterhead-Dizgeeks, so we spent part of our week at Disney’s Epcot and Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the other part hanging with the fam.

We decided to hit up Epcot first…


In all my years growing up in the bay area, I had never been to Epcot. I know. Total blasphemy.

Family fun

 My brother was able to take off work and join us, so yeah. awesome.

wine tasting

We spent the day going from country to country sampling all the food fare and drinks the world had to offer.

Wine tasting

 Here we were in Germany at a wine tasting. The Hubster is not a big wine drinker, so he got himself a German lager.

Romeo and EdnaWhile walking through Great Britain, we stopped to take in a sidewalk show…the infamous, Romeo and Edna.

It was cheesy and corny and I loved every minute of it. This guy was especially funny.


I totally took advantage of this photo-op in Morocco. I channeled my inner Captain Jack Sparrow for the shot.

The next day we visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter…

I have read the books a zillion times. Watched the movies a kagillion times. And I have A TON of Harry Potter paraphernalia…über Potterhead right here, ladies and gentleman.

I had already been to the WWOHP once before, but this was the Hubs first time.


We literally spent most of the day inside Hogsmeade drinking Butterbeer, eating lunch at the Three Broomsticks, and riding with Harry, Ron, and Hermione inside Hogwarts.

ButterbeerI love a good Butterbeer mustache…

clock tower

 I was able to get some really great shots like this one. Every hour, this owl would come out of his tower.


As we were leaving, I was able to get my picture taken with the conductor of the Hogwarts Express.


As we walked through, I made sure to take certain shots of the rooftops. This was one of my favorites.


I loved the golden snitch above this shop.

And it just so happened that we were in town for Father’s Day last week.

So my Mom and I decided to make my Father’s favorite pie. Butterscotch pie.

This pie is not for the faint of heart…In fact, it is a two person job. It was my great-grandmother’s recipe and my grandmother used to make it for my father when he was little.

So yeah. It is around 200 years old.

Daddy's Butterscotch Pie

This pie will make you work for it, but it is ohhhh so worth it.

Butterscotch Pie

You want your brown sugar mix to boil, but make sure you are stirring constantly to prevent burning.

Butterscotch Pie

Before you put your milk on the double boiler, combine your sugar, cornstarch, flour, and salt in a small bowl.

That way it is ready for when you need it.

Butterscotch Pie

After you have combined the milk mixture with your butterscotch, pour into your baked pie shell and top with meringue.

Butterscotch Pie


  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 c unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 1 baked pie shell (9 ")
  • meringue


  1. Bake your pie shell accordingly. It can be store bought or homemade. I prefer homemade and used my Mom's old Betty Crocker cookbook to make mine.
  2. In a nonstick medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, water, and corn syrup. Cook on medium heat stirring constantly for about 10-12 minutes or until a small amount forms a hard ball in cold water. *Tip provided by Mom.
  3. At the same time, scald your milk in the top of a double boiler. I let my water boil first and then added my milk. When it started to steam (about 10 minutes) I added my white sugar, cornstarch, flour, and salt. I made sure I had my dry ingredients premixed before I started my cooking my milk. That way it was easily accessible to pour into the milk.
  4. After you add your dry ingredients to your milk, you want to use a hand mixer to beat your ingredients, making sure to scrape the sides of your double boiler. It should be thick and smooth.
  5. Add the butterscotch mixture and stir until smooth.
  6. Temper your egg yolks with a small amount of your butterscotch mixture.
  7. Add the tempered eggs to your butterscotch and beat with a mixer to combine.
  8. Cool and pour into baked pie shell and add meringue.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until your meringue is set.
  10. Let cool to room temperature and then place in refrigerator for 2-3 hours to set.
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Top Ten Countdown to Harry’s Birthday: #1 Hagrid’s Birthday Cake




Ok… so this is not technically the birthday cake that Hagrid made for Harry all those years ago in the Sorcerer’s Stone, but it is Harry’s birthday (and the awesome Ms. J.K. Rowling) and that gives us reason to celebrate!

Harry turns a whooping 32 today…only 1 year younger than me. :)

I was hoping in my small backwoods town that there might have been a Harry Potter fan club getting together tonight in Harry’s honor, but to my knowledge I don’t believe they exist outside of Charlotte…well, at least not in my age group. So I planned to have my own little cyber birthday party right here for “the boy who lived”.

To prepare for the party, I bewitched the vacuum (Roomba) to sweep up around the “the burrow”, hung banners over the fireplace that sparkle, and recreated this amazing 4 layer Hogwarts Spice cake without magic thanks to Bakingdom…one layer to represent each house at Hogwarts.

Speaking of houses, if I had ever received my letter to Hogwarts and had the opportunity to try on the Sorting Hat, I am confident that it might have been confused on where to put me. I believe my geeky side might have persuaded the hat to put me in Ravenclaw, but my courage to be who I want to be would place me in Gryffindor. Ultimately, I would prefer to be with Harry, Ron, and Hermione in the Gryffindor house. Oh how I love my fantasy world….

Back to reality…

This cake is a nice segway  back to the real world.


Anyway – Harry,’ said the giant, turning his back on the Dursleys, ‘a very happy birthday to yeh. Got summat fer yeh here – I mighta sat on it at some point, but it’ll taste all right.’
From an inside pocket of his black overcoat he pulled a slightly squashed box. Harry opened it with trembling fingers. Inside was a large, sticky chocolate cake with Happy Birthday Harry written on it in green icing.’

- Chapter Four, The Keeper of the Keys, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone



Top Ten Countdown to Harry’s Birthday: #2 Treacle Tarts

Number 2 on our countdown is Harry’s favorite treat…Treacle Tarts!! They would have been higher on the list, but I have had some difficulty with the various treacle tart recipes that are floating around on all the baking blogs. I adapted the one below from Bakingdom (I want to be like her when I grow up! Ha!) but I used my Mom’s pastry crust recipe. It has never let me down and I have it practically memorized. Treacle is a sweet syrup that is derived during the processing of cane sugar and I was fortunate to find a light treacle, otherwise known as golden syrup at World Market. Unfortunately, I used a new mini tart pan to make the treacle tarts and I just haven’t got it perfected yet. They tasted pretty yummy, but I would have preferred more treacle and less crust. Either way I ran out of time and couldn’t make them again in time for this post, so here you go! (I promise to keep trying for Harry’s sake and post when I finally get it!)

The clip of the day comes from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I. It is the scene where Harry, Ron, and Hermione are attacked in the cafe…and Hermione…like always, is prepared in more ways than one!

Treacle Tart
Makes one 9 inch tart, or 2 dozen tartlets


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3-4 tablespoons ice water

14 oz. golden syrup
2 eggs
finely grated zest and juice of 1 small lemon
3/4 teaspoon all spice
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup fresh bread crumbs

For the crust: In the food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt with 2 or 3 pulses. Evenly distribute the cold butter over the flour mixture and and pulse 10 to 15 times, until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons of the cold water over the flour mixture, and process with 4 to 5 pulses. After processing, the mixture should look sandy. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Sprinkle another tablespoon of the water over the mixture and use a rubber spatula to press the dough together. When the dough looks shaggy and a bit dry, but holds together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 3 or 4 times until the dough comes together completely. Add more water, up to 1 tablespoon, as needed. Handle the dough as little as possible to prevent melting the butter.

Continuing to handle the dough lightly, shape it into a disk six to seven inches across. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes, or the refrigerator for at least two hours.

Once chilled, Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. If making many small tartlets, work with half of the dough at a time. Roll the dough to about one-eighth of an inch thick. Line tart pans as directed above.

Place the tartlets on a baking sheet and chill for at least 30 minutes, preferably in the freezer.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Once chilled, line the tarts with bits of foil or parchment and fill each one with a small amount of pie weights or dry beans. Bake mini tartlets for 15 minutes. Bake a full size tart for 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before filling.

For the filling: Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and pour into the cooled tart crust.

Bake for 20 minutes (for tartlets), or about 30 minutes (for a standard tart), or until the filling has set.

Allow to cool completely before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

Top Ten Countdown to Harry’s Birthday: #3 Rock Cakes

Who doesn’t love Hagrid and his infamous Rock Cakes? J.K. Rowling made it a point to mention these lovely treats no less than 3 times in the Harry Potter series. Once in the Sorcerer’s Stone, another in the Goblet of Fire, and finally in the Half  Blood Prince. The Unofficial Harry Potter cookbook says this about these raisin filled desserts: “Rock cakes, standard with tea, look like but don’t taste like rocks, unless of course you leave them out for several days, which is probably what Hagrid did. Rock cakes have a short history and seem to have been invented by the Victorians.”

Our clip today actually comes from the Half Blood Prince and features ‘ol Hagrid himself at the funeral of Aragog, the spider.

My favorite part of this scene, as sad as it is, is when Harry mentions the pincers as another reason why spiders are misunderstood creatures.

Now on to the Rock Cakes…

Rock Cakes


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg
1/3 cup whole milk
1 cup raisins


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease and flour a large cookie sheet. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large mixing bowl. With your fingertips, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture reaches the consistency of wet sand.

2. Beat the egg together with the milk and pour it into the flour-butter mixture. Fold it together using a spatula to form a stiff dough. Fold in the raisins. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet.

3. Bake for 25 minutes or until the bottoms are golden, rotating the pan midway through baking.

Makes 12 Rock Cakes

Recipe adapted by The Unofficial Harry Potter cookbook.

FYI: If you truly want them to be like Hagrid’s Rock Cakes, you will need to bake them way too long and sit out for days…

“You’re a wizard Harry!”~Hagrid

Top Ten Countdown to Harry’s Birthday: #4 Cockroach Clusters

“‘How about these?’ said Ron, shoving a jar of Cockroach Clusters under Hermione’s nose. ‘Definitely not,’ said Harry” (Prisoner of Azkaban).

Normally if you asked me anything that had the word, cockroach, in it, I would be running for the hills. Palmetto bugs (as they are commonly referred to in Florida) are big, brown, and downright nasty little creatures. I am petrified that they will come in my bed in the dead of night and chew off my eyebrows….I digress…

But these cockroach clusters however, are made of chocolatey caramel goodness with a crunch of  pecans! I have also heard them called “the poor man’s turtles”, but I prefer to think of them as just another treat from Honeydukes! They were super easy to make and with just 3 ingredients, it won’t break the Gringotts bank!

The clip of the day comes from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It is where Harry and Professor  Dolores Umbridge face off about Lord Voldemort’s existence and Harry gets detention(torture). As a teacher, I pride myself on being more of a fun Professor Lupin type of teacher rather than scary, rule enforcing Umbridge. She takes the fun out of learning  everything! Not to mention, she slightly reminds me of my grandmother!

Cockroach Clusters


Rollos, unwrapped

Pecan pieces

Melting Chocolate

1. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Arrange the unwrapped Rollos on the parchment, at least 1.5″ away from each other.

2. Place the cookie sheet in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for about 3 minutes, until the Rollos are soft but not melted out of shape.

3. Press  pecan pieces on top of each Rollo, smashing them into the Rollo (so that it looks like you stepped on the little critter). Let the Rollos harden.

4. Melt more chocolate over top of the pecans, and smooth with a tooth pick or your finger. This is when you get to be extra creative. Use the chocolate to create antennae, legs, wings, whatever you’d like!

Top Ten Countdown to Harry’s Birthday: #5 Honeydukes Candyfloss Cupcakes

We are at the half way mark of our countdown and I cannot wait to share the awesome Harry Potter news that I have! My amazing  hubster, the man of my dreams, my love, my best friend…in short, the greatest man in the world….has pre-ordered me this!

That’s right fellow Potterheads…On September 7th I will have my very own limited and numbered edition of the Harry Potter Wizard’s Collection.  Amazon says this about the vast collection,”The most comprehensive Harry Potter movie collection yet features all eight films, exclusive never-before-seen content and must-have memorabilia. This new limited and numbered 31-disc collection contains all eight Harry Potter movies on Blu-ray, DVD and UltraViolet Digital Copy and more than 37 hours of special features including all previously released materials and more than 10 hours of new to disc bonus content, and 5 hours of never-before-seen material. In addition to the theatrical release of every film, the collection also includes the extended versions of  Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; and the 3D versions of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows –- Parts 1 and 2.”

I don’t mean to brag, but I am super excited about it. Anybody else out there planning on getting one?

I first saw these cupcakes over at Bakingdom. Darla is so very creative and I absolutely love how she came up with these cupcakes from the store window of Honeydukes over at the WWOHP.

I tweaked the recipe just a bit by adding cotton candy spinning sugar instead of cotton candy and I also used the cotton candy flavoring that I had just ordered from Layer Cake Shop. Be careful when you are using flavoring oils….a little goes a long way!!

Honeydukes Candyfloss (Cotton Candy) Cupcakes
Makes about 1 dozen


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg, plus 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup cotton candy spinning sugar (I used strawberry flavor)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter, sour cream, egg, yolks, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Scrape the bowl to make sure it’s combined, then stir in the cotton candy sugar until evenly distributed.

Place three tablespoons of batter in each of the paper liners int he prepared muffin pan. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Honeydukes Candyfloss (Cotton Candy) Buttercream Frosting
Makes 12 ounces


5 -7 drops cotton candy flavoring(use sparingly)
1cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar (or more to reach desired consistency)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until thoroughly combined. Stir in the vanilla and cotton candy flavoring. Beat on medium high until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds, adding the remaining cream, if necessary.

Cupcake recipe adapted from Bakingdom.

Two of my favorite quotes from Hermione from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. (I am currently rereading this one!)

“Just because you have the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have.”

“All those poor elves I haven’t set free yet, having to stay over during Christmas because there aren’t enough hats!” -Hermione Granger”

Top Ten Countdown to Harry’s Birthday: #6 Cauldron Cakes

I am not sure what it is that makes Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire my favorite in the series…the hubster would joke and say it is because of Robert Pattinson, but I am not that crazy about vampires. :)   I think I adore it so much because Goblet of Fire is the first movie to introduce the true darkness of Lord Voldemort and take the Harry Potter series from tween to young adult.

Okay, so the clip of the day is at the end of the movie when Harry and Lord Voldemort are facing off in the graveyard. Their wands are connected and well…just watch…

Cauldron Cakes anyone?

Cauldron Cakes are actually the wizarding term for big fluffy pancakes, but they typically look like this all over the baking blogosphere. Harry sees them for the first time on the witch’s trolly on board the Hogwarts Express in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.


2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

To make the cakes: preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray pan with cooking spray that contains flour.. In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In another large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the oil and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until thoroughly combined. Sprinkle 1/3 of the flour mixture over the ingredients in the bowl and beat until just combined. Add have the milk and stir until combined, then scrape the bowl. Sprinkle another 1/3 of the flour into the bowl, and again mix until just combined before adding the remaining milk. Beat until just mixed, then add the remaining flour and beat the mixture until thoroughly combined, scraping the bowl, as needed. Stir in the chocolate chips. Fill each cup a little more than 1/2 full. Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean of cake batter. Allow to cool completely before decorating.

3/4 cup Marshmallow Fluff
2 sticks of butter
2 1/2-3 cups confectioners sugar (or until you reach desired consistency)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, beat together the marshmallow fluff, butter, sugar, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.

1 bag of dark cocoa candies

Melt bag according to directions in a glass microwave safe bowl and use to dip the cakes

To assemble:
Using a cupcake corer or sharp knife, cut out a cavity in the bottom of the cupcake. When using a knife, I run it in a circular motion around the cupcake, while always pointing the knife towards the center (this will make the cavity cone shaped).

Dip the bottom of the cupcake into the chocolate candies. Flip the cupcakes right side up and let rest until the chocolate sets, about 30 minutes. To speed up the process, place cupcakes in the refrigerator.

To make the cauldron feet, take 4 chocolate chips and form a small square, placing each chocolate chip roughly an inch from the others. Place the top of a cupcake onto the chocolate chips and push down ever so slightly so the chocolate chips will stick into the chocolate glaze. Repeat for the rest of the cupcakes.

Place remaining chocolate glaze into a piping bag and pipe a chocolate rim around the edge of the opening to the cauldron. If chocolate is too thick to pipe, heat chocolate glaze up until warm and allow to sit until glaze thickens slightly. If chocolate glaze is too runny to pipe, wait a few minutes until the glaze thickens to a pipe-able consistency. Alternatively, you could use a knife to spread the glaze around the edge of the cupcake.

Fill a pastry bag with marshmallow filling and pipe into the cavity of the cupcakes. Garnish the top with edible gold glitter or shimmer.

To make cauldron handle, melt the remaining chocolate chips, stir until smooth, and place into a pastry bag. You don’t need a special tip for this step; I simply cut off the very end of the pastry bag which was sufficient. On a non-stick mat or wax paper, pipe out the handles (feel free to use any pattern you’d like). I recommend measuring the cupcakes with a ruler to determine how wide you need to make the handles before piping. Let the chocolate set until hardened, approximately 30 minutes, before very carefully peeling off of the non-stick surface and placing into the top of each cupcake.

Recipe adapted by Pastry Affair.

“I’m going to kill you, Harry Potter. I’m going to destroy you. After tonight, no one will ever again question my power. After tonight if they speak of you, they’ll only speak of how you begged for death. And how I being a merciful Lord… obliged. ” ~Voldemort (Hey, they can’t all be warm and fuzzy!)

Top Ten Countdown to Harry’s Birthday: #7 Butterbeer Cupcakes

These cupcakes are by far my favorite! They require a few steps, but are totally worth it. I make them every year around Halloween and even brought them into my classroom to share with my students last year. What is totally rad about my school is that in late October, each classroom picks a book to represent. We get to decorate our door, dress up, and the upper school students come down to our building and have games and events relating to our book. Last year, we choose Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The hubster drew a 2 ft. Harry Potter flying on a Nimbus 2000 chasing a golden snitch for our door and the students had to color themselves on brooms and paste on a photo of their face on the body. So when it was finished, there was the large Harry in the middle with 25 smaller students on broomsticks flying around him. Our school also has a contest for the best looking door and we won for our grade level! Yeah! When the upper school students came down, they had all my fourth graders try on the Sorting Hat to see what house they would be in and then we played a game of Quidditch in the halls. So fun!

So now onto the clip of the day…going in sequential order, we are now on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Now I realize this is the movie where we are first introduced to Sirius Black and I should be posting a clip about him, but I love this clip of Hermione punching Draco. It is just classic! Enjoy!

Mmmmm…Butterbeer cupcakes…

Recipe by AmyBites

Butterbeer Cupcakes
Makes 18
For the cupcakes:

2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cream soda

For the ganache:

1 11-oz. package butterscotch chips
1 cup heavy cream

For the buttercream frosting:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup butterscotch ganache
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon butter flavoring
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 16-oz. package powdered sugar
Splash of milk or cream (as needed)

For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pans with paper liners. Combine your flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, cream your butter until light and fluffy. Add your sugars and beat until well-combined. Beat in your eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Then beat in your vanilla and butter flavoring.

Alternate adding your buttermilk, cream soda, and dry ingredients in batches until all are well incorporated. Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 full, then bake for 15 to 17 minutes until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean and cake springs back to the touch. Cool completely on wire racks.

For butterscotch filling: In a double boiler (heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water on the stove), combine butterscotch chips and heavy cream and stir until completely combined and smooth. Cool to room temperature. Fill a squeeze bottle with ganache and insert into the center of each cupcake, squeezing until filling begins to overflow.

For buttercream frosting: Cream butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Add in ganache, vanilla, butter flavoring, and salt and mix until well combined. Beat in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until reaching desired consistency. Add milk or cream by the Tablespoon as needed. Frost cupcakes and top with a drizzle of butterscotch ganache.

“It’s cruel that I got to spend so much time with James and Lily, and you so little. But know this; the ones that love us never really leave us. And you can always find them in here.” ~Sirius Black