Monday, July 11, 2011

A toast to Harry Potter... with a glass of low-calorie Butterbeer!

You can call me a nerd.  You can call me a muggle.  You can call me whatever you want, but don't stand between me and Harry Potter.

This Friday marks the last official opening of a Potter movie, and there's no better time to celebrate with my recipe for low-calorie Butterbeer, the Potter drink of choice.  Recently, Tom and our friend Rena joined me in my Butterbeer Test Kitchen, to figure out the best possible low-calorie way to recreate the flavor of Butterbeer as offered at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando.

And the results?  A delicious facsimile, Diet Butterbeer at only 20 calories!

We started by sampling diet cream soda, which would serve as the majority of the beverage body.

We sampled three different zero-calorie cream sodas for the occasion.  The winner was Olde Philadelphia, which we hadn't heard of before. The perfect hint of caramel flavor for the beverage base. But any diet cream soda would work.

We added a touch of sugar free butterscotch syrup for the "butter" flavor.

The trick to the Wizarding World recipe is that their "beer" and their "head" are two separate elements, added together in the glass.  There was some debate about what would make a good head, so we tried it two different ways.

Tom and Rena toast.

But my wacky idea was far and away the winner...

The winning head: salted caramel ice cream, stirred until it melts, then folded into fat-free
Reddi Whip. Plain caramel or dulce de leche should work, too.

Here's the recipe our test kitchen settled on, with links to where you can purchase:

Diet Butterbeer Body:
1 cup of zero-calorie cream soda (Olde Philadelphia is best - we bought ours at Rocket Fizz.)
2.5 teaspoons of sugar-free butterscotch beverage syrup (DaVinci's is best, I bought online at Boba Tea Direct.)

Diet Butterbeer Head:
1 tablespoon of salted caramel ice cream (We used Carmela, but plain caramel or dulce de leche should also work - as long as they're smooth, no chunks.)
2 tablespoons of fat-free whipped topping spray (Reddi Whip is best.  Available at most grocery stores.)

Combine the soda and butterscotch syrup in a glass.  Set aside.
Stir the ice cream until it is frothy, then fold in the whipped topping spray.  Spoon it carefully onto the Butterbeer body - then enjoy!

To your good health, Harry!

Butterbeer is the perfect cuppa to toast the end of an era.  After all, the series has captured my heart for... can you believe it?... ten years.  It's been amazing to watch the actors blossom into maturity.  They're so grown-up now!

It isn't only the actors who've grown.  Our friend Erik put things into perspective by counting the girlfriends he's had since Sorcerer's Stone hit theaters.  And that made me realize just how far I've come since I was first swept away to Hogwarts... cinematically speaking, that is.

I saw the first movie opening weekend, in my hometown - Midland, Michigan.  At the time, I was recently graduated from college, single, and living with my parents and building my savings so I could afford a move to Los Angeles. I went with a dear friend from high school, Amanda - who was also single at the time, and who now works as a teacher, and is married with a beautiful daughter.  We were at the Midland Cinemas, the only real first-run multi-screen movie theater in my hometown, which opened when I was 15.  (Before that, we had to go out of town for new movies, or watch scratchy second-run reels at Studio M.  Where, by the way, I'd have my wedding reception six years later.)

The film transported me.  I had only read the first book, in preparation for the film, but it spurred me on to read the rest of the series.  By the time the second film came out, I was settled in LA, where I'd moved without any existing family or friends in the area.  I was pretty lonely.  The books, and the fandom friends I made online, made me feel like I was part of a community.  By the third film, my new friend Audra and I had already gone to a midnight Potter book release party... and by the fourth, my soon-to-be-husband was in tow.  The three of us went together to the final book release... in costumed geekery.

Audra wears a Slytherin scarf. I'm in a Gryffindor one, with a Dumbledore
t-shirt I made.  Tom is in - yes - a Weasley sweater with "T" for Tom.

Flash-forward to this weekend... and how things change!  But friendships remain.  Audra and Erik are now house-hunting, Tom and I are four years into our marriage, and some of us are not just fans of the entertainment industry, we're part of it.  So when Audra was invited to a special early screening of the film, she brought the three of us - her own "Potter Pals" - along for the ride.

And when we met up with them at 7AM to stand in line for our sneak preview, we brought along a batch of Butterbeer for a breakfast of muggle champions.

While queued up for the movie, Erik raises his glass.

On our way into the Chinese for the movie.

Where were you when the first Potter came out in 2001?  And how will you be celebrating the end of the Potter era?  We'll be heading back to the theater to watch it again. Frankly, we wanted to turn right back around and watch it again after we saw it, but alas, we must wait for Friday.  If you make the Butterbeer, be sure to take and share the pictures of you enjoying it - and heck, if you're dressing up all nerdy, send those pictures too!

I'll be back tomorrow with a weigh-in and tales of last week's time offline... until then, keep taking care of you.


  1. The Butterbeer was DELICIOUS! Thank you for brining it along.

  2. Yay! I love that you all dressed up and had/have such a good time with it. I am seeing an HP in a theater for the first time this week (dressed up of course), Brendan and I tend to be more than a little behind the times, but I'll be thinking of you when we go.

  3. I'm a pretty big Potter geek, too, and I'm hugely jealous that you've already seen the movie! I've read all the books, which I loved and think it's a great series for kids to read. I think Rowling sneaks in a lot of good stuff about character growth, personal strength and how to be a well-rounded person in her books, which is good for kids to have examples of.

    If memory serves, I think I've seen all the Potter movies on opening weekend...or at least the following weekend, if I was going by myself. I know I saw the first two on opening weekend, and had a ball. I went with a group of women friends who were Potter fans like me. But by 2004, when the third Potter movie was hitting theaters, we were starting to go our separate ways. So even though I was still friendly with them, I saw the third Potter movie on my own, which was a little disappointing. I'd even bought a "Mrs. Severus Snape" t-shirt to wear on opening night if we decided to see it together. Sadly, I didn't get to debut my t-shirt.

    I saw the next 2 Potter movies on my own, too. It wasn't until 2009's Half Blood Prince that I saw a Potter movie with someone else. I was in a long-distance relationship with a guy in central Cali, so we saw the Half Blood Prince together in his neighborhood. Shortly afterwards, the distance (and a few other issues) took a toll on the relationship and we ended things.

    I saw Deathly Hallows, Part 1 on my own and sat there in the theater, blubbering like a fool when Nick Cave showed up on the soundtrack during the Harry-Hermione dance scene. I'm a big Nick Cave fan, and as usual, the Potter story seems to somehow connect to psychological issues, often when you least expect it to.

    But that's why I love the books and especially the movies. They're a psychological journey, which is my favorite kind of movie. We've seen the kids grow, change, learn to deal with adversity, and become who they're supposed to be. I can't wait to see the final movie and see how they prepare for the next stage of their lives.

  4. We saw Sorcerer's Stone in theaters, not first weekend but pretty soon thereafter. I was working at an elementary school library, where I became familiar with Harry and read all the books that were out. I wasn't a huge fan but enjoyed the books a lot and looked forward to seeing everything on screen.

    If that was December 2001, then it was right around when we met up with our online Disneyland friends for a Christmas potluck at the picnic area. It was only the second meet ever and we were still getting used to this "real life" thing. It's hard now to imagine a time when I knew those people mostly by screen names.

  5. Thank You this was yummy! We had these before the midnight showing here. A big hit. I used regular cream soda, and real dairy reddi- whip.
    Also Edy's slow churned Caramel Delight.