Fred and George Weasley had many snacks and treats to offer with a wide variety of pranks included in each one. When they first started, they were passing them out in the Gryffindor Common Room. One such treat was the Canary Creams, which would turn the person who ate it into a canary and then back again after they molt their feathers.
Of course, I couldn’t make something that would actually turn the eater into a canary, but I used the idea of a custard cream, which the snacks are based on, and made it canary yellow.
“It’s all right,” he [Fred] said. “I haven’t done anything to them. It’s the custard creams you’ve got to watch-”
Just then, Neville caused a slight diversion by turning into a large canary.
“Oh – sorry, Neville!” Fred should over all the laughter. “I forgot – it was the custard creams we hexed-”
Within a minute, however, Neville had molted, and once his feathers had fallen off, he reappeared looking entirely normal. He even joined in the laughing.
“Canary Cream!” Fred shouted to the excitable crowd. “George and I invented them…”
-Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Of course, in April, when our Harry Potter Club was watching Goblet of Fire, I wanted to make any food associated with that book. I found a recipe here for Canary Creams, but it called for custard powder which I was never able to find in the store. I wanted to order online but forgot until it was too close to the club night, so I had to find a substitute.
If you can use custard powder, that would be preferable to make these more authentic. But if you can’t find it, you can substitute cornstarch in equal amounts and add a bit of vanilla extract to give it flavor.
Canary creams are a type of custard cream. Not being from the UK, I wasn’t sure what that was, so I had to look it up online. It’s a biscuit (which we call a cookie in the US) with cream in the center. The cookie is similar to a shortbread cookie and can be rolled out in the same way as sugar cookies. The cookies are baked, then put together with the cream filling in between.
Start by preheating the oven to 350F. Use a stand mixer or electric hand mixer to cream the butter completely. Then add the sugar and mix it again until it’s combined, which is about 3 minutes on a medium-high speed. Add the vanilla and stir until it is mixed in.
In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, custard powder (or cornstarch if you don’t have custard powder) and the baking soda.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture while stirring on low speed until it forms a dough.
Lightly flour a clean working surface and roll out the dough to be about 1/2″ thick. Use a round biscuit cutter or other cookie cutters to make shapes and place those on a baking sheet.
Continue to cut shapes and re-roll the dough until you use up all of the dough.
Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, until they just start to brown. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.
While the cookies are cooling, make the filling by creaming the butter as before, then adding in the sugar. Stir in the vanilla and a few drops of yellow food coloring (to give them the canary color). If the filling is too thick, add a splash of milk as needed.
To make the canary creams, put the icing in a piping bag or tool and pipe the filling onto half of the cookies. Use the other half to place on top of the filling, making them cookie sandwiches.
- 1 1/3 cup flour
- 1/2 cup custard powder (substitute cornstarch if needed)
- 12 tbsp butter (softened)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp butter (softened)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp milk
- 2 drops yellow food coloring
- Preheat the oven to 350F
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with a stand mixer or electric hand mixer
- Add the powdered sugar and cream for about 3 minutes
- Mix in the vanilla extract
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, custard powder (or cornstarch), and baking soda
- Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture until a dough forms
- Lightly flour a clean working surface and roll the dough out to 1/2" thickness
- Use a biscuit cutter or cookie cutters to make cookies
- Continue to make shapes by rolling the dough out multiple times as needed until all of the dough is used
- Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, until they start to get brown
- Transfer to a cooling rack
- While cookies cool, cream the butter with a mixer
- Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and yellow food coloring
- Add the milk, as needed, if the filling is too thick
- Put the filling in a piping bag and pipe onto half of the cookies
- Top the cream with the remaining half of the cookies to form sandwiches