Cakery/ Desserts/ Fall

Cakexperiment 01 – Chocolate Butterbeer Cupcakes

Chocolate Butterbeer Cupcakes

The running joke in my house is that whenever we do something for the heck of it (or to satisfy curiosity) we say that we’re doing it “For Science!” It got me thinking that I should be able to share and log my experiments, not just a Pinterest-Pretty-You-Don’t-Know-How-Many-Fails-I-Had-Before-I-Got-To-This-Point post. Therefore I give you the first log in the Cakexperiment Series: Chocolate Butterbeer Cupcakes!

The Experiment

I first stumbled onto this recipe through my Pinterest feed. Which led me to the wonderful blog Half Baked Harvest. And while I cringed knowing that my blog name now sounded much less original, I immediately felt the urge to try this recipe, with my own adjustments. I started off by swapping in my own basic chocolate cake recipe. I have a recipe that works with my gluten free flour perfectly so I prefer to use that base. Since the cake recipe here called for cream soda I substitute my usual cup of coffee with the cream soda. I used diet soda but I think regular would give it more flavor. These baked wonderfully (if not a tad fluffier).

That done, I approached the two layer fillings. It made more sense to me for the cupcake to have a filling….and that was butterscotch. This is the root flavoring used with “butterbeer” labeled products. In all honesty, no one really knows what it tastes like. JK Rowling even reported to Bon Appetit that she made it up. But that she imagined it might taste like “less-sickly butterscotch”. Based on what I’ve been told about the Butterbeer at the theme park, that wasn’t followed. It’s reportedly sickeningly sweet and a few sips is often more than enough. Not my style. I’m all about the well-matched flavors, nothing should taste like liquid sugar. But I digress…

The butterscotch sauce was a simple ganache recipe and tasted good to me, if not quite sweet. I used Meijer’s butterscotch chips as they are gluten free, although I did note barley malt was no longer listed on the back of the Nestle bag…will have to keep an eye on that. I dropped a teaspoon of the gooeyness into each cupcake after I cored them. It’s sweetness balanced well next to my more bittersweet cake.

Drooling yet? I know I am.

Now that the cake portion was complete, I turned to the icing. I opted to follow the recipe exactly as I had never done a chocolate peanut butter buttercream before. This is an American Buttercream and when done seemed a little thick to me. It was a little rich and to be honest I didn’t get much butterscotch from the icing. But I opted to use it anyway and drizzle more butterscotch on top.

Then came my attempt to make marshmallow webs. This was pretty much a fail. I could not get the marshmallow to work with me and adhere to the cupcakes without causing a “non-pretty” mess. I suspect this is partly due to the fact I’m working with cupcakes and not a whole cake. On a bigger scale, the stretching and stringing might be easier to accomplish. Unfortunately, I only managed a few acceptable ones, which I include here along with a web free cupcake.

The Results

This is usually the part of lab reports where you would list your findings, data and any conclusions you have made. My findings? Definitely tasty. I think the butterscotch and chocolate cake go well. I feel like there is a better icing option, though, such as perhaps eliminating the chocolate and peanut butter and perhaps doing just a butterscotch buttercream or chocolate and butterscotch buttercream. The peanut butter just seemed to overpower the butterscotch flavor. I’m also curious to see how this might work with a SMBC base. But I must admit, I am a bit of a snob about that. 🙂 The marshmallow webbing definitely was a problem, but as I didn’t feel like it added anything to the flavor I think it could be swapped with something else for a Harry Potter themed decoration. I encourage you to give it try and see what kind of data you get from this recipe. Happy baking!

GF Chocolate Butterbeer Cupcakes with a Butterscotch Core and Chocolate Peanut Butter Butterbeer Icing

Print Recipe
Serves: 24 cupcakes Cooking Time: 1.5 hours


  • For the Chocolate Cake
  • 235 g of GF flour (I am a dedicated user of a href="">Better Batter)
  • 70 g of unsweetened dark cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) of grapeseed canola oil
  • 300 g of white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) of whole milk
  • 1 cup (240 mL) of Cream Soda
  • For the Butterscotch Core
  • 1 (11 ounce) bag butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • For the Frosting
  • 1/4 cup of Butterscotch sauce
  • 2 sticks (1 cups) of salted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup of creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • For the Webs
  • 4 ounces of marshmallows



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line your cupcake tin with liners.


In a separate bowl combine the flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Use a whisk to obtain a "sifted" mixture.


In the stand mixer cream together the oil and sugar for 2 minutes. Beat the eggs in one at a time then add the vanilla and almond extract. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the milk along until just combined. Slowly pour in the cream soda and mix until combined for no more then 30 seconds. GF batters tend to be on the thicker side but this recipes is almost pourable. Divide the batter evenly among the 24 cupcake liners.


Bake for 15-19 minutes but oven times always vary! Test for doneness using a toothpick. Let them cool before filling.


To make the butterscotch core place the butterscotch chips and cream to a small saucepan. Set over low heat, stirring often until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat. Allow the sauce to cool for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, core the cupcakes with an apple corer or a cupcake coring tool. Transfer about 1 teaspoon of sauce to each cupcake and replace the core.


To make the frosting, beat the butter and powdered sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer (cover with a towel, trust me!). Add the peanut butter and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla and beat, scraping down the sides as needed for another 2 minutes until well blended. Add 1/2 cup of the butterscotch sauce and whip the frosting for 2-4 minutes or until light and fluffy. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe on the cupcakes (icing is a bit thick but doable with some added pressure). Drizzle with the remaining butterscotch sauce.


To make the web, melt the marshmallows in the microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until melted and smooth. Let cool 3-5 minutes and then use your hands to stretch/pull the melted marshmallow around the cupcakes to create spider webs. Go in as many directions as possible and expect a mess.


Test your results and savor your findings!


Adapted from Half Baked Harvest.

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