We had a bit of a tough time coming up with an idea for H. For the longest time, nothing that we came up with really jumped out at us. Eventually, I got really excited at the thought of a Harry Potter date and Luke got really excited about making hors d'oeuvres. So we did the natural thing and combined the two.
We planned to watch a few Harry Potter movies (6, 7, and 8) in one sitting since the weather had been particularly crummy. It was the perfect time to have a lazy day and a movie marathon! I decided to make a few Harry Potter treats, like I did with my sister in 2011 before the final movie came out. It wasn’t as intricate as our Harry Potter feast back then, but I did make pumpkin juice, butterbeer, and cauldron cakes. I also got some black liquorice (my favourite!) for liquorice wands.
There seems to be a lot of debate on what cauldron cakes actually are since they’re never described in detail in the books. The only mentions of them describes them being purchased in “stacks”, like from the trolley on the Hogwarts Express. I’ve seen recipes that basically make little funnel cakes or hole-less doughnut looking things. In my imagination, cauldron cakes are chocolate cakes that look like cauldrons. I used my favourite chocolate cake recipe and baked them without liners in a muffin tin. (Make sure you grease the pan really well.) I made custard, doubling this recipe, and divided it into four equal parts to dye each batch a different colour: purple, blue, green, and yellow to represent different potions. Once the cakes were cool and the custard was firm, I scooped out the middle of the cake (while they’re upside down) and filled it with custard.
There are a lot of butterbeer recipes out there and, unlike pumpkin juice, the ingredients vary so much recipe to recipe. I decided to recreate the alcoholic butterbeer recipe my sister and I made in 2011 with a few simple ingredients:
1 oz butterscotch liqueur or schnapps
soda water (I topped it up with soda water to cut some of the sweetness)
I envisioned drizzling it with caramel sauce, but the sauce we got wasn’t exactly drizzleable, so I settled for a dollop.
For dinner that night, we planned to make a selection of hors d'oeuvres from scratch. I’ll admit I was a bit hesitant at this idea. I thought we would end up with a ton of food that we couldn’t finish and that wouldn’t keep very well as leftovers. But we managed to plan it well and make a small portion of a few things. We made Korean BBQ chicken bites, grilled cheese dippers and tomato soup shooters (I’m totally making up the name here), caprese and prosciutto skewers, cucumbers rounds with cream cheese and salmon, and stuffed mushrooms. Luke also made shortbread sandwiches with cream and strawberries.
CAPRESE & PROSCIUTTO SKEWERS
These are simple. You need mozzarella, basil, prosciutto, and cherry tomatoes. Just assemble them onto toothpicks or small skewers. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil and balsamic vinegar.
CUCUMBER SALMON ROUNDS
We didn’t really follow a recipe for these either. We just sliced some cucumber, added a dollop of cream cheese (you could use another soft cheese with herbs or something), a sliver of smoked salmon, and dill.
I didn’t measure anything for these because all the recipes I found were for a large batch. I sauteed spinach until wilted and then added 2 garlic cloves, minced, and cooked for about 1 more minute. I mixed mozzarella, Parmesan, cheddar, and cream cheese with salt and pepper. I added the spinach and garlic to the cheese mixture and then spooned into the mushroom caps. I baked at 180C (400F) for 12 minutes.
GRILLED CHEESE & TOMATO SOUP DIPPERS
We made one grilled cheese sandwich as usual and then cut off the crusts and cut into four strips. We also warmed up some tomato soup (from a tin) with salt and pepper and spooned into 2oz shot glasses and topped with fresh basil.
STRAWBERRIES & CREAM SHORTBREAD SANDWICHES
Luke whipped up these little shortbread cookies with this own 3-2-1 recipe of flour, butter, and sugar. (He used 150g of flour.) He filled them with whipped cream and sliced strawberries. They were delicious and so cute!
ACTIVITIES FOR THE H DATE NIGHT
have a Harry Potter themed date - Interpret this how you wish, but I was thinking you should at least gorge yourself on Harry Potter sweets while watching the movies.
go out for happy hour
go horseback riding
take a helicopter tour - Maybe that’s a usual price range for a date with you, but maybe you just want to splurge, especially if you live or are visiting some place that would look amazing from a helicopter. (I’m looking at you, Hawaiians!)
do a hop on/hop off tour - Some major cities offer these now and it’s actually my #1 recommendation for seeing London, especially if you’re short on time.
watch a horror movie - You could go vintage, classic, or current. (If horror isn’t quite your taste, like me, but you’re trying to get into the Halloween spirit, try something a bit more mild like Cabin in the Woods, The Village, or Get Out. They have a few scares, but I actually enjoyed all three.)
take a hot air balloon ride or go to a hot air balloon festival
go to a hockey game
go hot tubbing
tour a haunted house
tour your hometown - Show of where you grew up by hitting all your favourite spots.
go hang gliding
go house hunting - Maybe you’re not actually house hunting, but it sure is fun to pretend like it, especially if you get to see houses way out of your price range!
FOODS FOR THE H DATE NIGHT
Hors d'oeuvres - Make your own—it’s easier than you think to make a few in small batches—or go out for some. I suppose you could even go to (or crash) a fancy event and treat yourself to some professional hors d’oeuvres.
H restaurants/bars - Does your favourite restaurant or bar start with a H? Or what about a spot you’ve been dying to try, but just haven’t found the time yet?
DESTINATIONS FOR THE H DATE NIGHT
The Highlands - One of the coolest neighbourhoods in Denver
The Scottish Highlands
Header Photo by Brianne Haagenson Photography.