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A cut into cupcake revealing green candy drops inside
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5 from 6 votes

Harry Potter Cupcakes (Butterbeer Cupcakes)

Sorting Hat Cupcakes are immense fun for Harry Potter fans. Each brown sugar cupcake is filled with a stash of red, green, blue or yellow candy drops, (representing each of the 4 Hogwarts houses) which remain hidden under a swirl of butterbeer flavoured buttercream until bitten into.
Prep Time1 hr 10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Baking, Dessert
Cuisine: Worldwide
Diet: Vegetarian
Servings: 12 Cakes
Calories: 487kcal


For the Brown Sugar Cupcakes

  • 125 g/ 4½ oz Butter (unsalted) - softened
  • 125 g/ 4½ oz Light brown sugar
  • 2 Eggs (large, free range)
  • 2 tablespoons Whole (full fat) milk
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 125 g/ 4½ oz Plain (all purpose) flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking powder

For the Butterscotch Sauce

  • 60 ml/ ¼cup Double (heavy) cream
  • 50 g/ ¼ cup/ 1¾ oz Light brown sugar
  • 30 g/ ⅛ cup/ 1 oz Unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon Golden syrup (light corn syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • Salt - a large pinch

For the Butterbeer Buttercream

  • 300 g/ 1⅓cup/ 10½ oz Unsalted butter - softened
  • 200 g/ 1 ⅔ cup/ 7 oz Icing (confectionary) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 1 Batch Butterscotch sauce (listed above)

For the Coloured Drops

  • 30 g/ 1 oz Red candy melts
  • 30 g/ 1 oz Green candy melts
  • 30 g/ 1 oz Blue candy melts
  • 30 g/ 1 oz Yellow candy melts

Decoration - your choice of sprinkles, chocolate coins, molded caramel hats or paper flags


    Make the Butterscotch Sauce

    • Put all ingredients except the vanilla extract into a small, heavy based pan, and cook over a low-medium heat until the sugar has dissolved (stirring frequently
    • Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 2 minutes
    • Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract and set aside to cool completely, then refrigerate for several hours

    Make the House Drops

    • Melt the red candy melts, put into a piping bag fitted with a small circular nozzle and pipe small drops (3-5mm) onto baking parchment. Leave to set  
    • Repeat for the remaining colours (ensure you wash and dry your piping bag and nozzle very well to avoid colour contamination).

    Make the Cupcakes

    • Preheat the oven 170C/ 325F/ GM3 and line a cupcake tray with paper cake cases
    • Using electric beaters, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
    • Briefly mix the eggs in a jug and gradually add a teaspoon at a time into the creamed butter & sugar, beating well in between each addition (adding the egg really slowly reduces the risk of the mix splitting)
    • Add the vanilla extract and milk then beat again
    • Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and gently fold in until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Take care not to overwork the batter though
    • Divide between the cupcake cases - filling each case around ⅔ full - and bake for approximately 20 minutes
    • Test that the cupcakes are baked through: poke a cocktail stick into one of the cakes - if it comes out clean then the cakes are ready. If not, return to the oven for a couple more minutes, then test again
    • Once out of the oven remove from the baking tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack

    For the Butterbeer Buttercream

    • Put the butter into a medium bowl and beat until smooth and soft
    • Sieve in the icing sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and beat well between each addition
    • Once all of the icing sugar has been mixed in, beat in the vanilla extract
    • Spoon the butterscotch sauce into the buttercream and beat in (use less butterscotch for a subtler flavour and leave a little sauce aside if you intend to drizzle some over the cakes as decoration) 

    Assemble the cakes

    • When ready to assemble cut a small cone from the middle of each cake (see my image)
    • Fill 3 cakes with red candy drops, 3 with green and so on 
    • Put the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a suitable nozzle (I used Wilton C4) and pipe the buttercream onto the cakes, ensuring that the coloured drops are completely covered up
    • Add your choice of decoration

    These cakes keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container



      • Please use digital scales for this recipe as they are so much more accurate than the cup system. Cups are notoriously inaccurate because they can vary in size. Furthermore, one person's method of filling a cup can be quite different to another person's
      • Plain flour is listed in the ingredients. If you have self-raising flour this can be used instead but the baking powder will not be needed - leave it out
      • This recipe makes 12 cupcakes (standard UK size). Ensure you use cupcake wrappers rather than fairy cake wrappers as these are too small for these cakes
      • Instead of using candy melts, coloured buttercream can be used to fill the middle of each cake
      • Alternatively, colourful sweets (such as M&Ms) can be used (but the colour may bleed into the cake as they sit
      • Do make the butterscotch sauce well ahead of time since it does need to cool and chill prior to being added to the buttercream - it keeps well for up to one week in the fridge
      • Aim to make 3 cupcakes for each house colour
      • Alternatively, make more candy drops for particular houses (e.g. Gryffindor and Slytherin) if rivalry is high - just increase/ decrease the amount of candy drops used as required
      • To adjust the sponge cake recipe to vanilla, simple swap the light brown sugar for caster sugar
      Storage Instructions
      Once assembled these cakes are best stored at room temperature and eaten within 3 days. It is not necessary to refrigerate them.
      Make them Vegan
      These cupcakes need significant adjustment to make them vegan, but it is possible:
      1. First of all, make a vegan butterscotch sauce and some vegan cupcakes
      2. Next make some vegan buttercream and mix some of the butterscotch sauce into it (vegan buttercream can be softer than regular buttercream, so add the sauce gradually and stop before the buttercream gets too loose to pipe and hold its shape)
      3. Finally, candy melts are not vegan, so you will need to source an alternative product or fill your cupcakes with coloured vegan buttercream
      Make them Gluten-Free
      Simply make some gluten-free vanilla cupcakes and ensure that your icing sugar is gluten-free before making the buttercream (not all of it is). The other point to note is that Candy Melts may contain gluten so they must not be used. Either use coloured buttercream inside each cupcake or find some suitable sweets to use.
      Exact nutritional information will depend on your choice of decoration. The following figures are an approximation only.


      Serving: 1cake | Calories: 487kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 275mg | Potassium: 84mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 1065IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 1mg