Cauldron Cakes | Harry Potter Recipes

Preliminary note: I in no way condone J.K. Rowling or her hurtful anti-trans sentiments. I believe in the power of stories and that books belong to their community of readers. I have made a commitment never to purchase merchandise, materials, or access to experiences (like Harry Potter World) that may financially benefit J.K. Rowling in anyway.

I’ve been working on these for a while. Since I started this Harry Potter recipes development project, I have been thinking about what cauldron cakes from the wizarding world would look and taste like. I mean, except for the name, they’re never given much of a literary description. In searching the internet for other people’s interpretations, I found a lot of chocolate and overturned cupcakes–honestly, those just didn’t do it for me, and I thought I could do better.

Let’s start with the shape. The reason this recipe took me so long was my search for the perfect baking mold. I didn’t want to make just another ill-disguised upside down cupcake or a cake carved vaguely into the shape of–what is that? a lump? No, I wanted these to be pristine little half-domes with a clean, smooth coating. You know, like a cauldron. My solution: silicone. I bought these molds from the crafting store and started experimenting. I had used silicone for chocolate and Bavarian creams in culinary school, but never baking. Turns out, these silicone molds are not as nonstick as their cousins, Silpats, would have you believe. My first batch of cakes completely tore apart as I tried to remove them from their divots. Lesson learned–grease and flour them, and give your cakes plenty of time to chill in the molds before releasing them for clean shapes.

In the Harry Potter books, chocolate is found in the forms of frogs and wands and in big blocks (in case of Dementors, duh), plus Chocolate Cauldrons are specifically called out as the magical equivalent to filled truffles. Since cauldrons already have a chocolate version, I went another way for the flavoring: blackberry and lemon. The lemon curd topping makes these little cauldrons look like they’re filled with bright, golden Felix Felicis, but you could switch it up with whatever “potion” (okay, okay–jam or other sweet spread) you choose. The blackberry cake holds its vivid purple color exceptionally well during baking and is a charming little surprise after you bite through the chocolate coating.

Speaking of the coating, these little cauldrons are encased with white chocolate colored with–wait for it–charcoal. And you thought that fad was over. Yes, you can totally use a black gel food coloring but where’s the fun in decorating if you’re not cautiously twisting open activated charcoal capsules that you got in the supplements aisle, praying that you don’t stain anything in your kitchen black (again)? It’s a fun ingredient to use for adding natural coloring to food, even if it’s super unnecessary as a health supplement. It has the added bonus of creating a matte finish, which adds a lot of authenticity to the cauldrons.

Overall, these little cakes were unbelievably adorable and I couldn’t stop looking at them. Even my SO couldn’t keep the smile off his face when he admitted that they were “pretty cute.” Yes, the recipe is a bit of a project, but it could be simplified by using a boxed cake mix (either pre-flavored or with the homemade juice mixture stirred in). The blackberry and lemon together create a wonderful balance of fruity sweetness and tart citrus, but the cauldrons could be recreated with different flavor combos (strawberry cake instead of blackberry, chocolate cake with caramel sauce “potion,” yellow cake with cherry preserves, the list goes on). Even with my imperfect chocolate piping skills, they were forgiving enough to be one of the most enjoyable baking projects I’ve done in a long time.

But anyway, enough talking! Let’s get to it:

Cauldron Cakes Recipe

Cake Recipe Inspiration: Stella Parks’s Classic Vanilla Butter Cake on Serious Eats
Makes about 30 cauldron cakes

Blackberry Cake

Ingredients

Blackberry Juice

  • 1 (16 oz.) bag frozen blackberries
  • 1 cup water

Blackberry Cake

  • 1/2 cup reserved blackberry juice
  • 2 Tbsp. whole milk, room temperature
  • 5.3 oz. granulated sugar (150 grams; about 3/4 cup)
  • 3 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature (85 grams; 6 Tbsp.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 5.3 oz. all-purpose flour (150 grams; about 1 cup plus 2 1/2 Tbsp.), plus extra for flouring molds

Preparation

Blackberry Juice

  1. Combine blackberries and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook uncovered until berries are broken down and juice is reduced and thick, about 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Filter out fruit solids through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing to extract juice. You should have just over ½ cup juice. It’s okay if yours didn’t reduce exactly to 1/2 cup. If you have over 1 cup, simmer juice for 10 to 15 more minutes to reduce further. If your juice reduced too much, add water until you have 1/2 cup.
  3. Let juice cool completely at room temperature.

Blackberry Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease silicone molds with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle generously with flour to coat. Gently shake out excess flour, then place prepared silicone molds right-side up on a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. Combine blackberry juice and milk and set aside.
  3. Combine sugar, butter, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric mixer). Beat on medium speed until light and aerated, about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula halfway through.
  4. Add egg and vanilla to sugar mixture and continue beating until fully incorporated.
  5. Add a third of the flour and mix on low until combined. With the mixer running, drizzle in a third of the juice mixture. Repeat with alternating thirds of flour and juice until all ingredients have been incorporated, stopping to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary.
  6. Do a final scrape of the mixing bowl with to ensure all flour has been incorporated into the batter. Fill each of the silicone molds with 1 scant tablespoon of the cake batter*.
  7. Bake for 11 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of several of the cakes comes out clean.
  8. Let cakes cool at room temperature for at least 15 minutes, then transfer to the freezer and chill for at least 1 hour. Carefully push cakes out of the molds and keep refrigerated until ready to decorate.
  9. Repeat baking and cooling process with remaining batter**.

Assembly & Decoration

Ingredients

  • 2 (10 oz.) bags white melting wafers (like Ghiradelli’s)
  • 6 to 15 capsules activated charcoal or gel food coloring***
  • About 1/2 cup prepared lemon curd or preferred fruit jam

Preparation

  1. Place white chocolate wafers in a medium glass bowl. Heat in the microwave until chocolate is melted, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 15 to 30 seconds.
  2. Carefully open charcoal capsules over white chocolate and stir to incorporate the powder (discard the capsule shells). Add charcoal (or gel food coloring) until the desired color of gray or black is reached.
  3. Pour chocolate mixture into a pastry bag or resealable zip-top bag and snip a small opening in the corner to pipe.
  4. Using the cleaned and dried silicone mold, pipe about 1 1/2 tsp. of chocolate coating into each space. Press chilled cakes gently into coating, just until the chocolate comes up flush to the top. Work quickly, as chocolate coating can set in the piping bag after several minutes (if this happens, reheat briefly in the microwave).
  5. Pipe a lip/edge onto the top of the “cauldron” with chocolate. Let coating set, about 5 minutes, before carefully pushing cauldrons out of the mold.
  6. If desired, lay out a piece of wax or parchment paper and pipe a small “X” formation that will act as the cauldron feet. Set the cake on top of the “X” and let chocolate set before peeling off of paper.
  7. Onto the top of each cauldron, spoon or pipe lemon curd (or jam “potion” of choice). You could also add sugar pearl sprinkles to emulate bubbles or any other decorations of your choice.
  8. Store cakes at room temperature for up to 6 hours and in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

*My silicone molds held 2 Tbsp. of filling. If you have a differently sized mold, fill each divot about halfway.
**This recipe yields enough batter to make about 30 (1 Tbsp.) cakes, or enough for two molds. If you don’t have two molds (I don’t either), refrigerate the batter while you wait for the first cakes to bake and chill. Let the batter sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before baking the second batch. Alternatively–just make cupcakes with the remaining batter, cut out the centers, and fill with lemon curd before frosting or dipping the bottoms in chocolate coating. They’re like extra-capacity cauldrons!
***I used activated charcoal from the supplements aisle and twisted open the capsules to pour out the charcoal. You can also find powdered charcoal which you can sprinkle in, 1/4 tsp. at a time. Be careful not to get this charcoal on any plastic, wood, or clothing—it will stain. Don’t want to mess with charcoal? No shame. Black or gray gel coloring would work just as well.


Pumpkin Juice | Harry Potter Recipes

Preliminary note: I in no way condone J.K. Rowling or her hurtful anti-trans sentiments. I believe in the power of stories and that books belong to their community of readers. I have made a commitment never to purchase merchandise, materials, or access to experiences (like Harry Potter World) that may financially benefit J.K. Rowling in anyway.

One of my favorite Harry Potter-inspired recipes I’ve ever made is pumpkin juice. I know! It’s not one of the all-stars that comes to mind when you think of wizarding treats, but it always stuck out to me. In the books, it was commonplace—it was on the table of every meal and served ice cold, similar to how we drink apple or orange juice. But how in the world is it even made? Can you actually juice a pumpkin?

Okay, I didn’t even try to juice a pumpkin. As I discussed in the pumpkin pasties post, I don’t really think fresh pumpkin is the way to go when we’re looking for concentrated flavor. So I turned again to canned pumpkin puree… plus a secret ingredient that not only bumps up the color but also adds earthy sweetness. Can you guess it? It’s carrot juice! Don’t knock it till you try it. Even the pre-bottled stuff from the cooler of the produce section adds a vegetal freshness that significantly brightens up the canned puree and complements the squash flavors.

The carrot and pumpkin, combined with apple cider, get all mingled and infused as it sits together in the fridge for a few days. Then, unless you like a thick drink, it’s a quick strain before you can pour your very own goblet of bright orange pumpkin juice.

For me, this version is a surprisingly perfect match for what I’ve always imagined. I’m truly shocked that no other recipes I’ve seen online use carrot juice. Most seemed to be “copycats” for the Universal version, which uses apple juice, apricot puree, sugar, and spice flavorings. Since the books describe pumpkin juice as a year-round drink, I forewent adding any autumnal spices like cinnamon and allspice. If you want those flavors, use a spiced cider or sprinkle in a pumpkin pie spice blend to taste at the beginning so that it gets nice and infused too.

Pumpkin Juice Recipe

Makes about 4 cups (approximately 5 to 6 servings)

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1 1/2 cup carrot juice
  • 3/4 to 1 cup canned pumpkin puree*

Preparation

  1. Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and stir to incorporate. Refrigerate overnight or up to 4 days to infuse juice with pumpkin flavor.
  2. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve or a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Pour into a clean pitcher or bottle and chill until ready to serve. Juice will settle after sitting, so shake or stir before pouring.

Notes

*There’s about 1 3/4 cup pumpkin puree in a 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree. This recipe, along with Curried & Sweet Pumpkin Pasties, uses up a whole can. If you don’t want to make pasties (I get it), you can double this recipe or use the remaining in one of these great suggestions from The Kitchn.


Curried & Sweet Pumpkin Pasties | Harry Potter Recipes

At this point, it feels almost redundant to say that I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I mean, most of my generation is—we grew up reading the series, going to midnight premieres, and living in a worldwide obsession of the wizarding world. As I get older—and way less in favor of the series creator herself—I still find so much comfort and meaning in reading the books and interacting with the enduring fan communities, like that of Harry Potter & The Sacred Text.

I’m rereading the series for the umpteenth time. Of course, I always get extra excited about all the magical food and drinks. A few years ago, I hosted a dinner with friends and made a few inspired treats, intermingled with some British staples of a Sunday roast.

But… I didn’t write any recipes down. I can recall just a few details of a pumpkin juice that tasted exactly like what I imagined or the aspects I wanted to change about the treacle tart. Since I can’t just wave a wand and make all of it appear again, I’ve decided to recreate my versions of the fictional favorites from Harry Potter—starting with how to make pumpkin pasties.

Curried Pumpkin Pasties

Last time I made pumpkin pasties, I came across a post from Bijoux & Bits where she made a sweet variety along with a savory one. The idea stuck with me, and I started thinking about what kind of flavors would be used in a snack like this one. It came to me almost immediately: curry. England has a reputation for their curry houses and tikka masala love—it makes sense that if pumpkin pasties were savory, they’d probably be spiced with an Indian-style curry blend.

So I started with a pie pumpkin (also called sugar pumpkins), which are meant for baking as opposed to the gigantic squashes that we carve up for jack-o’-lanterns. You could absolutely use sweet potatoes or butternut/acorn squash if pie pumpkins aren’t available. It should be roasted just until it’s soft and can be cubed, but not so much that it turns to mush when it’s mixed with sauteed onions and toasted curry powder. After baking, these pasties totally resembled baked samosas, with their super buttery crust and the warm, spiced squash filling. Perfect autumn snack!

I have to be totally honest though: I don’t actually think pumpkin pasties are savory. Although I’d love to think that the kids in the books had a savory, salty snack thrown in with all the treats, it seems like most of the witches and wizards in the books have major sweet tooths. So I made a sweet version as well.

Sweet Pumpkin Pasties

Okay, let me come clean. This recipe uses half of a pumpkin for the curried pasties and a portion of a can of pumpkin puree for the sweet. It’s a crime, I know—now there’s this leftover pumpkin that you have to deal with. Why did I commit this atrocity, you may ask? It came down to my stubborn imagination of a realistic shelf-stable sweet pasty. Pastries with diced veggies in them just aren’t going to stay fresh and edible for as long as ones with pureed fillings potentially could.

I know what you’re thinking: why not just puree the second half of that pumpkin we just roasted? I’ve got an answer for that too. Canned pureed pumpkin is actually made of closely related varieties of squash that have more concentrated sweetness and the “pumpkin” flavor that we’re familiar with, more so than the sugar pumpkins that you can find in stores. Sure, you could totally blend that other half and use it for your sweet pasties—but I strongly prefer the canned stuff when it comes to pumpkin puree. Don’t worry though! The other half of the roasted pumpkin is an excellent addition to cooked grains or pasta, chili, or a creamy pumpkin soup. The remainder of the canned puree can be used to make pumpkin juice or in any of these great suggestions.

For the spices in the sweet pasties, I didn’t want to just sprinkle in some pumpkin spice blend and call it good. I wanted these pasties to be lighter and brighter than the standard pumpkin pie filling. Yes, I did use cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, but the warmer flavors are balanced with zingy ginger and floral cardamom. Make sure you taste your filling—you can always add more of the spices to your taste!

Crimping

Okay, so we’ve made our filling and you’ve already prepared your pie crust (of course!). Now comes the hard part: crimping. I did a lot of research on Cornish pasties for this recipe, and found that there are two crimping styles: the top crimp and the side crimp. I loved the way the top crimp looked, but I think side crimping might be a tad more tradish. I compromised and crimped the savory pasties on the top and the sweet pasties on the side. If crimping by hand isn’t your forte, try the top crimp first as I had an easier time with it. If it’s still not working out, go back to folding them on their side and press the edges with a fork to seal. Don’t stress—do what works best for you!

I’ll be honest, my kitchen was warm on the day I made my pumpkin pasties. I kept all of the pie dough chilled except for when I was working with portions of it. Still, when it came time for crimping, it felt like the dough was “melting” almost immediately. It made getting a good seal on the pasties more difficult and the final product didn’t look as cute as they could have on a cooler day. One small way to avoid getting the dough too warm while you prepare the pasties is to dip your hands in cold water and dry them thoroughly before working with the dough. On the plus side, I made King Arthur Flour’s recipe using my food processor and, even though conditions were less than ideal, they still came out so flaky and buttery. I can’t recommend that recipe enough!

Curried & Sweet Pumpkin Pasties Recipe

Makes 8 curried and 8 sweet pumpkin pasties (16 total)

Curried Pumpkin Pasty Filling

Ingredients

  • 1 small pie pumpkin, about 2 lbs
  • Oil, to drizzle
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion
  • 1 ½ tsp. yellow curry powder*
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut the tough stem off of the pumpkin and cut it in half.
  2. Scoop out the seeds** and stringy “guts.” Place cleaned halves on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and flip cut-side down.
  3. Roast on the middle oven rack until a knife slides through the skin and flesh with slight give, about 30 minutes.
  4. Carefully flip pumpkin halves over to allow steam to escape and prevent continued cooking of the pumpkin flesh. Let sit until cool enough to handle.
  5. Remove the pumpkin skin (it should peel off easily when pulled). Cut 1 half of the pumpkin flesh into small cubes, about 1/2-inch (you should have about 2 cups). Reserve the remaining pumpkin half for other uses.
  6. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sweat until transparent and softened, about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring often.
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low and add curry powder. Toast until very aromatic, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in cubed pumpkin and honey.
  8. Season with salt & pepper to taste and let cool to room temperature.

Sweet Pumpkin Pasty Filling

Ingredients

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg (or freshly grated on a microplane)
  • 1/16 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/16 tsp. ground allspice

Preparation

  1. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth. Set aside.

Assembly

Ingredients

  • 2 unrolled pie crust doughs (enough for a double crusted pie)
  • 2 eggs, beaten (for egg wash)

Preparation

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Split each dough into 8 portions (16 portions altogether) and form each portion into a ball. On a floured surface, roll one ball at a time into a 6-inch circle (don’t worry about them being perfectly round). Keep all the dough except the portion you’re working with chilled.
  3. For 8 of the circles, fill with 2 heaping tablespoons curried pumpkin filling. Brush edges of circle with beaten egg, fold, and crimp edges to seal. Keep any prepared pasties chilled until ready to bake.
  4. Repeat with remaining 8 circles, using 2 scant tablespoons of sweet pumpkin filling per pasty.
  5. Place prepared pasties on baking sheet and brush the outsides all over with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. These are best when eaten within a day, but you can store leftovers in the refrigerator and re-crisp in a warm oven.

Notes

* There are so many curry powders. I stuck to a “standard” Indian-style blend (Spice Islands Yellow Curry Powder). Mine was pretty cumin-heavy, so I added 1/2 tsp. coriander and 1/8 tsp. ground ginger to the pumpkin mixture to brighten it up. Feel free to use your favorite bottled or homemade curry blend!
** To roast pumpkin seeds, rinse off all of the pulp and let them dry on a baking sheet. Drizzle them lightly with oil and salt or season as desired. Roast in a 375°F oven until they start to brown, about for 10 to 15 minutes (shaking the sheet every 5 minutes or so). Let cool and get snacking!