If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I’m a bit of a book nerd. This recipe will be the first of many Bookish Bakes, in which I attempt to recreate foods from some of my favorite reads. As I am currently writing from the depths midwinter, it seems a perfect opportunity to share a recipe from a cozy, wintry read – Harry Potter.Jump to Recipe
There are few children’s book series that have attracted such a large cult following, and fewer still that have their own fleshed-out worlds – complete with food and drink recipes – based in old English history. Harry and his friends drink butterbeer with some frequency, but our version differs a bit from the one Harry likely drank.
For the uninitiated, butterbeer is a butterscotch-flavored beverage consumed by persons of all ages in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter universe. In the books it appears to contain alcohol, though at a low enough percentage that children are still allowed to drink it. From its appearance in the films and at the Wizarding World theme park, truly “canon” butterbeer is served cold. While cold butterbeer would probably be delicious, our recipe is served warm, and would be the perfect drink to sip curled up next to a roaring fire (perhaps while you read a nice fat book).
This recipe is very slightly adapted from the one made by Greg on the YouTube channel How to Drink. (If you enjoy cocktails, he is an excellent resource!) In turn, his recipe is based on a Tudor preparation from 1588. Centuries before Harry first visited Hogsmeade, the Tudors enjoyed this sweet, fattening drink – known to them as “buttered beere”. While the number of calories involved is frankly absurd, it helps to remember that malnutrition was a common problem in 16th century England, and this drink would be a helpful way for people to consume the number of calories they would need in any given day.
This recipe does contain alcohol; if you want to prepare a child-friendly version, you should boil the beer for a few hours or start with a non-alcoholic beer.
Now, on to the recipe!
The two most important ingredients in this recipe are – big surprise – the butter and the beer. I recommend using organic, grass-fed, unsalted butter in this recipe, even if it isn’t what you normally keep around the house. There are fairly few ingredients in this recipe, and using a high quality butter will absolutely pay off in the finished product.
You can use any sort of winter ale in this recipe; we used Samuel Smith’s Winter Warmer as that was recommended in the YouTube recipe linked above. A winter ale works best because it already contains some spices, and should compliment the flavor profile we are working to develop. If you have children or pregnant people in your home, I recommend starting with a non-alcoholic beer, as it takes a very long time to truly burn off alcohol in the amount that would be necessary.
Start by pouring your beer into a very large pot on your stove. My Dutch Oven was the perfect size; the pot we normally use for macaroni and cheese would have been much too small. Stir in your spices. If you want to avoid chewing on a clove later, place the larger spices in a cheesecloth, teabag, or tea strainer before submerging them in your beer mixture. (We learned this the hard way.)
Bring your beer and spice mixture to a simmer over medium heat, lowering the heat if it comes to a rolling boil. Allow this to simmer for about 10-15 minutes while you prepare your other ingredients.
Separate 6 eggs and place the yolks in a mixing bowl. Whisk them together with 1 cup of turbinado or demerara sugar. You can use granulated or brown sugar, but the less refined sugar has a nicer balance of natural molasses flavor. Whisk these ingredients for 1-2 minutes, until they are very completely combined.
Ladle one scoop of your warmed beer into the egg yolk and sugar batter. This will temper the eggs, preventing them from becoming scrambled when they are combined with the rest of the warmed beer. Mix 2-3 more ladles of the warm beer into the egg mixture, stirring completely, before slowly pouring the egg mixture into the pot of beer.
Add your butter over low heat. Allow the butter to melt completely before ladling your butterbeer into mugs. For a truly Tudor touch, garnish the butterbeer with some grated nutmeg.
This butterbeer is excellent when warm, but doesn’t fare so well once it gets cold or is rewarmed. I recommend drinking it on the day you prepare it, and keeping it at its initial hot temperature until you drink it.
- 48 fluid ounces English Ale I used Samuel Smith’s Winter Warmer
- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 7 cloves
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
- ½ teaspoon grated ginger dried or fresh
- 1 cup turbinado sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- 4 ounces butter 1 stick
- Combine beer and spices in a large pot on your stove. (I used a Dutch Oven.) Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for approximately 15 minutes. The longer you simmer the beer, the less alcohol will be present in the final product – keep this in mind as you cook.
- Separate 6 eggs and place the yolks in a mixing bowl. Whisk the yolks together with your sugar until they are completely combined (1-2 minutes).
- Add a ladle of the hot beer mixture to your egg yolk mixture and stir to combine. Slowly mix in 2-3 more ladles of hot beer to your egg mixture. Once the egg mixture is slightly warm, gingerly add it to the mixture on your stove.
- Reduce heat to low. Melt butter into your beer-egg mixture and stir.
- Once the butter has melted completely, remove from heat and serve, garnished with grated nutmeg. Serve as hot as possible.
- If you want to avoid accidentally swallowing a clove, simmer them in your beer using a tea strainer or carefully remove them before mixing beer with the eggs.
- Enjoy this recipe on the same day you prepare it! This drink does not keep well when stored in the fridge.
- For those of your making this for a Harry Potter movie marathon: This drink could be kept warm in a slow-cooker, but I do not recommend preparing it in one.