A murderous maniac named Sirius Black has escaped from the Wizard prison, Azkaban, and was heard murmuring in his sleep about Hogwarts. In his new Potions class, Harry keeps encountering an ominous portent called a Grimm and the terrifying creatures that haunted Azkaban which are now surrounding Hogwarts. Harry has much to master in only his third year, including a powerful advanced spell, and a magic device Hermione has been using to take a double load of classes. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban answers many questions about Harry’s father’s past and reveals the deepest powers true friendship can unlock.
Similar Recommended Readings:
The next book in the Harry Potter series is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, where there is a triwizard tournament that will showcase the talent of two other schools, and challenge everyone’s knowledge of magic in order to help Harry survive.
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien involves powerful magic, the overcoming of tragedies, and the unity of friends who can surprise us with their strength and unexpected timing.
The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe or Prince Caspian of the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis present similar challenges for young adults and children in magical realms with evil queens and deceptive kings who have no right to their crowns.
Harry and the Weasleys ate a sumptuous chocolate pudding at the Leaky Cauldron before their school term began, the Honeydukes sweetshop carried “great fat Chocoballs full of strawberry mousse and clotted cream”, and Professor Lupin gave Harry chocolate every time he’d face a dementor, or even a strong boggart emulating a dementor. To display the excessive amounts of chocolate eaten, and create a cupcake reminiscent of chocoballs, I’ve created a chocolate cupcake with strawberry cream centers and chocolate fudge frosting.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Centers and Chocolate Fudge Frosting
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ½ dropper chocolate oil (about ⅛ tsp)
- 1 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
- 4 1/2 T of powdered milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 ½ tsp strawberry flavoring oil
- Red gel food color to make mousse pink (optional)
- 2 sticks salted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 ⅓ cup 60% bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1 tbsp butter
- 4 cups confectioner sugar
- 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 dropper of chocolate flavoring oil (about ¼ tsp)
In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium-high speed, combine one cup of sugar and 1 stick (½ cup) butter. While those are mixing, in a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, and baking soda. To the butter mixture, add the eggs, one at a time, while on medium-low speed. When those are combined, drop the speed of the mixer to low and add half the flour mixture.
Add ½ cup of milk, one tsp of pure vanilla extract, and ½ dropper of chocolate flavoring (about 1/8 tsp). When those are incorporated, add the rest of the flour mixture and mix until combined. Spoon into lined cupcake pans about 3/4 full, and bake at 350° F for 17-19 minutes or until an inserted toothpick in the center of a cupcakes comes out completely clean of raw batter. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before adding centers or frosting.
To make the strawberry whipped center, whip together 1 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream, 4 1/2 tbsps of powdered milk, and 1/4 cup of sugar using a stand mixer on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, or until the cream is no longer liquid, but fluffy like whipped cream. Drop the speed to low and add the strawberry flavoring oil and red gel food color. Mix just until color is consistent throughout. You may need to stop the mixer to fold the mixture over a few times with a rubber spatula, so that none of the gel color sits on the bottom of the bowl.
Once the cupcakes have cooled, use a small ice cream scoop to remove the centers of the cupcake, being careful not to dig into the bases or the sides. Then spoon a teaspoon or more into the centers. You can pile it a little higher than the cupcake if you really like strawberry whipped cream. Just remember to leave room for the frosting as well.
To make the frosting, whip 2 sticks (one cup) room temperature salted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for about a minute. In a microwave safe bowl, melt 1 and 1/3 cups of 60% bittersweet chocolate chips with 1 tbsp butter for 20 seconds at a time, then stirring, for a total of about a minute to one and a half mutes, or until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Then add the chocolate mixture to the butter, along with 2 cups of powdered sugar. Mix for about a minute, then add 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream, and alternate with another cup of powdered sugar. Then add the 2 tablespoons of milk, the full dropper of chocolate oil flavoring, and the last cup of powdered sugar. Frost onto cooled, stuffed-center cupcakes.
- Harry hadn’t lost control of himself or caused anything bad to happen to anyone in a while, but what happened at the beginning of the book to cause it again?
- Hermione needed to purchase a magical creature before the new school term. The magical menagerie had everything from enormous purple toads, to a gigantic tortoise with a jewel-encrusted shell, poisonous orange snails, fat white rabbits, cats and ravens. What did she end up choosing, and why? How did this creature prove to be both a menace and also of great value later? What would you choose and why?
- What do you think of Professor Lupin’s (and Madame Pomfrey’s) chocolate remedy after Harry’s first encounter with a dementor? His advice was to hand Harry a large piece and say “Eat it, it will help.” How could chocolate be restorative against dementors?
- “The charm that repels a boggart is simple…”the thing that really finishes a boggart is laughter.” What is the charm for repelling a boggart, and what do you have to think of? Why does it require force of mind to do?
- Harry thought himself weak for being affected so strongly by dementors. But Lupin told him that “The dementors affect you worse than the others because there are horrors in your past that the others don’t have.” What do dementors do to people that made it worse for Harry? Do you think they are a metaphor for anything?
- What exactly is a Patronus and why can’t dementors affect it? Why is each one unique?
- What was Harry’s Patronus in the shape of and what memory did he use to conjure the strongest one? What do you think yours would be (memory and shape)? You can find out the shape by taking a quiz at Pottermore.com.
- Why was the Shrieking Shack created and the Whomping Willow planted, and what were the shack’s secrets?
- What are the advantages of messing with time, and what are the dangers? What did Harry and Hermione have to avoid when using the time-turner?
- Dumbledore revealed his character in large, but powerful ways in this book, through his past actions with Professor Lupin and the graces extended him, and also with listening to and offering a wise solution to Harry and Hermione’s final problems at the end of the story. How did these events color how you see Dumbledore, and how did he turn out to be perhaps the wisest character, even though he sent out children to solve a tremendous problem instead of doing it himself?