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"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" Book Discussion and "Dumbledore's Lemon Drop" Cupcakes Recipe

I wish to inspire readers, teachers, and book clubs to bake along with their reading and promote discussion about the books we've enjoyed.


Harry Potter discovers a book owned by the mysterious Half-Blood Prince that contains secret, helpful additions to Potions recipes. By following them, Harry quickly becomes the best student in the class, much to Hermione’s frustrations. Dumbledore, meanwhile, has finally allowed Snape the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, and Harry is struggling to believe Snape isn’t actually on Voldemort’s side and manipulating Dumbledore’s gracious nature.

But meetings with Dumbledore and looking into old memories through the Pensieve will reveal more to Harry about the mysterious Tom Riddle than he could have imagined, possibly even generating Harry’s sympathy for the Dark Lord. What caused the boy Tom to turn so dark, and just how similar are he and Harry? A deeper look into the evilest wizard of all time awaits in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Lemon Drop Cupcakes With Raspberry Jam Frosting and Crystallized Pineapple

Lemon Drop Cupcakes With Raspberry Jam Frosting and Crystallized Pineapple

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Discussion Questions

  1. Why was it difficult for the Prime Minister to comprehend that the Ministry couldn't control the events that were happening? How did this situation make the Prime Minister actually pity Fudge, who'd lost his job position?
  2. It wasn’t until Harry reached his sixth year that Dumbledore finally allowed Snape to be the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. Why did Snape tell Voldemort it was because “it might bring about a relapse . . . tempt me in my old ways”? Was there a curse on the job?
  3. Tonks had a hard time Metamorphosing. Hermione thought her powers had been affected by shock or depression. Harry thought it was in mourning for Sirius and perhaps because she’d even had romantic feelings for him. What were the real reasons behind her forlorn nature, and how were they resolved?
  4. The Weasley brothers’ shop was one of the few places doing really well in Diagon Alley. What were some of their more popular items, especially for Defense Against the Dark Arts, and what client was buying by the hundreds?
  5. Nymphadora’s Patronus actually changed shape to what? What could cause that to happen?
  6. What does Amortentia do? What did it smell like to Hermione, or to Harry? What would it smell like to Dumbledore? What do you think yours would smell like? What might it have smelled like to Tom Riddle?
  7. Slughorn assumed Harry was great at Potions because his mother had been. What other subjects might Lily have been good at, or James?
  8. Merope, Tom Riddle’s mother, though a witch, did not use magic to get food or save herself even for her infant son. Why was this so different for her than for Lily Potter? Why did this so outrage Tom?
  9. What was the connection between Tom's mother “abandoning” him and his hatred for muggles and Half-Bloods? Why did none of the Death Eaters make this connection? What other famous historical tyrant had a mother with a heritage he persecuted heavily?
  10. Does Harry begin to pity Voldemort at all after learning of his early life and even the family he was born into? Do abusive families create villains, or does an unsympathetic nature in a person? How do people overcome abuse and remain kind toward others in spite of their past?
  11. How soon did Tom start showing his cruel streak, and was it limited to animals, or did it include people as well? If so, what action on their part did he give as an excuse for hurting others?
  12. The young Tom Riddle liked to collect trophies. Did this increase the appeal of Horcruxes to him? Do other villains like to sometimes keep trophies? Do normal people keep them for other reasons?
  13. What did Scrimgeour really mean when he asked Harry to “stand alongside the Ministry”? And why did Harry refuse?
  14. What were the three reasons Voldemort was so attached to Hogwarts and wanted to become a professor there? What might have happened had he been allowed the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts professor?
  15. What was the one type of magic of which Tom Riddle was ignorant? Why did Dumbledore think that woeful? Why did Tom argue that “nothing I have seen has supported your famous pronouncements that love is more powerful than my kind of magic”?
  16. How is a Horcrux made, and why does that act rip the soul apart? Why did Riddle think tearing it into seven parts would make it stronger?
  17. Why did Voldemort become fascinated with objects with a magical history for Horcruxes instead of old boots or empty potion bottles? What objects did Dumbledore know about so far that he shared with Harry?
  18. How did Voldemort “create his own worst enemy, just as tyrants everywhere do”? Why do “tyrants fear the people they oppress”? What “uniquely deadly weapons” did Voldemort hand Harry in choosing him?
  19. Why did Harry want so desperately to try the spell Sectumsempra? What were the consequences?
  20. How did Harry finally get into the room of requirement? What magic object was there that Malfoy had been obsessed with?
  21. What types of creatures came to Dumbledore’s funeral? What types of connections do you think he maintained with each of them despite the animosity many of them had toward wizards?

Recipe for "Dumbledore's Lemon Drop" Cupcakes With Raspberry Jam Frosting and Crystallized Pineapple

Raspberry jam was Dumbledore’s favorite flavor of jam, which he admitted to Harry when he was telling Harry to confirm that not an imposter coming to take him to visit Slughorn.

Lemon drops were Dumbledore’s favorite candy, which he had in his pocket on the day he dropped off Harry at the Dursleys'. And crystallized pineapple was Slughorn’s favorite sweet treat, which Tom Riddle and other students frequently used to bribe their professor.

Lemon Drop Cupcakes With Raspberry Jam Frosting and Crystallized Pineapple

Lemon Drop Cupcakes With Raspberry Jam Frosting and Crystallized Pineapple

Cupcake and Frosting Ingredients

  • 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) salted butter, softened to room temp
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp milk, divided
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract, divided
  • 1 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 2 tsp lemon baking emulsion
  • about 3/4 cup lemon juice, or the juice of 1 large lemon
  • lemon zest from one large lemon
  • 24 pieces crystallized pineapple


  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F. In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed, cream together one stick (1/2 cup) salted butter with one cup of sugar. In a separate bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder, cream of tartar, and baking soda. To the butter/sugar, add the lemon zest, then the eggs, one at a time. Drop the speed to low and add half of the flour mixture to the stand mixer.
  2. Allow those to combine, then pour in the 1/2 cup of milk, the lemon baking emulsion, one teaspoon of vanilla, and the lemon juice. When all of those are fully incorporated, add the rest of the flour.
  3. Stop the mixer to run a rubber spatula along the insides of the bowl and make sure everything is combining, then mix for another minute on low speed. Place into paper-lined cupcake tins and bake for 16–20 minutes.
  4. For the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or using a hand mixer, whisk together the remaining two sticks of butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about one to two minutes. Then, stop the mixer, add half of the powdered sugar, the remaining tablespoon of milk, the remaining teaspoon of vanilla, and all of the raspberry jam.
  5. Mix on the lowest speed for a couple of minutes until everything is combined. Stop the mixer if some of the ingredients are sticking to the insides of the bowl, and scrape them down with a rubber spatula. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix to combine. Pipe onto cupcakes that have been allowed to cool at least 15–20 minutes. Top each cupcake with a piece of candied pineapple.

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Similar Reads

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the final book in the series, which finishes with Harry’s final encounter with Voldemort and the Death Eaters.
  • Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, or even Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey also deal with a form of apparating called going Between, which is done while riding a dragon or by their cousins, the fire lizards. The land of Pern is also filled with magic and danger.
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien has a very similar quest to find and destroy a dangerous magical object, including hidden magic doorways and dangerous caves with evil creatures and other adventures.
  • Wonders of the Invisible World and Dreams of Distant Shores by Patricia McKillip are filled with many of the “water monsters” Harry feared in the black lake within the cave, such as kelpies, sprites, and other magical creatures.
  • Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones involves fate, bargains, and a price that must be paid: “a life for a life.” And the goblin king lures a young girl named Liesl into making a terrible choice.

© 2017 Amanda Lorenzo