"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" Book Discussion and Gingersnap Cupcakes With Firewhiskey Frosting Recipe
Book Club Gathering
If you're planning on hosting a book club gathering for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, here you can find great discussion questions, a tasty recipe, and recommendations for further reading!
In , Harry has been waiting all summer to hear reports of Voldemort's return on the Muggle news, but all is silent until the day when dementors appear around the block from the Dursley’s house and attack Harry and Dudley. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry then stands trial before the Ministry of Magic and is acquitted of having to use magic to save himself and Dudley, but the Minister, Cornelius Fudge, will not hear a word about Voldemort returning.
As a result, a woman from the ministry with a toad-like appearance named Dolores Umbridge has weaseled her way into a teaching position at Hogwarts as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. She manipulates her way into even greater power, first by challenging teachers in their classrooms, then by eliminating the students’ freedoms one by one.
On top of all this, Harry and the other fifth years must take O.W.L. examinations at the end of the year, which could affect their entire future careers. Harry must learn about defense against the dark arts on his own and instruct his friends so they can stop Voldemort and the Death Eaters from acquiring a mysterious object hidden at the Ministry of Magic, about which Harry has been dreaming of every night.
Sirius Black is an animagus, but Tonks is a metamorphmagus. What is the difference, and what are some of the benefits she has?
How was Sirius Black related to the Malfoys? What are some of the downsides of pureblood marriages and what are the scientific benefits of mixed-blood marriages, even in our world?
What did the boggart become for Molly Weasley and why did it devastate her so much? Does this also reveal how deeply Percy’s actions may have affected her?
The sorting hat makes a new song every year and this year's song included a warning. What was it? And why did Hufflepuff above all the other houses seem to have already heeded it by taking “the rest” in her house?
How did Hermione cleverly prevent anyone in Dumbledore’s army from telling on the others and how did she devise a secret way for them to know when to meet?
What are thestrals and why can only some people see them? Why would Hagrid have wanted the students to meet such creatures, especially since their existence can trigger the remembrance of tragedy?
Why did Harry try so hard to protect Ginny and his friends instead of accepting their help, even though Ginny was the only one who’d ever been possessed by Voldemort?
What happened to Neville’s parents that resulted in them living at St. Mungo’s? Why do you think he kept them a secret?
Why was Snape so hard on Harry during Occlumency lessons? Why did he specifically warn Harry to control his emotions and not wallow in sad memories or allow himself to be provoked easily?
How did Ginny get so good at riding a broom and at Quidditch? How was she more like Fred and George than any of her other siblings?
How did Rita Skeeter finally prove herself useful and wind up publishing a truth few wanted to hear?
What were the big secrets Hagrid had been keeping that explained why he was so late to return in the year?
What memory of Snape’s did Harry discover and how did it affect the way Harry saw his father?
How did Dumbledore respond to the attempt to arrest him?
What were some of the possible careers choices facing the students, and what did Harry most desire to be? What did McGonagall have to say about it, despite Umbridge’s contradictions?
How did Fred and George leave the school and why did they go before finishing the year?
Neville’s wand was actually his father’s. Why would that be heartbreaking for him to lose and how could that have affected his competence at practicing magic?
- How could Sybil's prophecy have applied to two different wizards and why did Harry end up being the chosen one?
"Have a Biscuit, Potter"
“Have a biscuit, Potter,” was McGonagall’s reply to Harry when he was reprimanded by Umbridge for confessing that Voldemort had returned. The cookies were ginger-flavored. Also, at Hog’s Head, the pub where Harry and the other students met to form “Dumbledore’s army” Ogden’s firewhiskey, an alcoholic cinnamon-flavored beverage, was sold. Seamus Finnegan and Dean also tried to acquire some of this drink to celebrate after the O.W.L.s had finished.
This recipe is a combination of the ginger biscuit and “firewhiskey.”
Gingersnap Cupcakes With Firewhiskey Frosting
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) salted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 4 plus 2 tsp cinnamon, divided
- 2 1/2 plus 1 tsp ground ginger, divided
- 1 tsp cardamom
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
- 1 tsp plus 3 tbsp firewhiskey (cinnamon whiskey), divided (see note below about nonalcoholic substitute)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tsp meringue powder
- 1 1/2 tsp molasses
- 3 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed, whip one stick of salted butter for 1 minute. Add the granulated white and brown sugars and beat for 1 more minute. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, two teaspoons of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, and gingersnap cookie crumbs.
- To the wet ingredients, add the molasses, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and the eggs with the mixer on low speed. Add half of the dry mix to the stand mixer, followed by the milk and 1 teaspoon of firewhiskey. Spoon batter into 2 paper-lined cupcake trays (makes 2 dozen). Bake for 16-18 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean of raw batter. Wait to frost until cupcakes have cooled outside of the cupcake pan for at least 10 minutes, preferably on a cooling rack.
- For the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed, whip 2 sticks of salted butter together for about 2 minutes or until smooth. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 4 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, and the cayenne pepper.
- Drop the speed to low, and in 4 batches, add the powdered sugar, stopping the mixer to scrape down the inside of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure everything is thoroughly combined. After half of the powdered sugar is added, pause to add the 3 tablespoons of firewhiskey plus meringue powder, then finish the remaining two additions of powdered sugar.
If you're making this recipe for children or underage Harry Potter fans, you can replace the firewhiskey with cinnamon tea.
Recommended Books (Similar to Harry Potter)
- The next book in this series is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, where the war against Voldemort continues and it’s even more important that the students at Hogwarts learn all they can to resist him and the death-eaters. Things are also revealed about a chosen one and a half-blood prince. Not everyone is who they seem to be, or who Harry perceives them to be.
- Prince Caspian and The Magician’s Nephew, both by C. S. Lewis. Like the Harry Potter books, this novel also features evil rulers who overstep their boundaries and must be defeated with the help of clever young children.
- The Septimus Heap novels are about a young wizard who must learn to use his exceptionally powerful magical abilities.
- The Bell at Sealey Head by Patricia McKillip also contains rooms in a castle that appear by magic to lead a young woman into adventures and discovering her destiny.
- Serafina and the Black Cloak is about a young girl who secretly lives on the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina with her father. She notices the children at the Biltmore are disappearing and tries to find out why with the help of the estate owner’s nephew.
© 2017 Amanda Leitch