Monday, March 16, 2015

REVIEW + BOOK INSPIRED CUPCAKES: Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

NightbirdAuthor: Alice Hoffman
Publication: March 10, 2015
By: Wendy Lamb Books/Random House Kids
Genre: Middle Grade 
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads 
4 Stars!

An enchanting novel from bestselling author Alice Hoffman: a charmed New England village, a family secret, and a friendship destined to defeat a witch.

"Some things could only be found in Sidwell it seemed: pink apples, black owls, and my brother, James."

Twelve-year-old Twig's town in the Berkshires is said to hide a winged beast, the Monster of Sidwell, and the rumors draw as many tourists as the town's famed pink apple orchards. Twig lives in the orchard with her mysterious brother James and her reclusive mother, a baker of irresistible apple pies. Because of a family secret, an ancient curse, Twig has had to isolate herself from other kids. Then a family with two girls, Julia and Agate, moves into the cottage next door. They are descendants of the witch who put the spell on Twig's family. But Julia turns out to be Twig's first true friend, and her ally in trying to undo the curse and smooth the path to true love for Agate and James.

*I received a copy of this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review* 

Thank you Cassie from Random House Kids for this book. The hardcover is beautiful inside and out! 

Alice Hoffman, author of fan favorites like Practical Magic and The Dovekeepers, brings her amazing way with words, story-telling and world building to Nightbird, in a tale that will appeal to readers of all ages. 

Twig is an endearing character who doesn't quite fit in. But she loves her town and her family, longs for a friend and will do just about anything to help her brother. Did I mention her mom is an uh-amazing baker? My mouth watered and my stomach rumbled reading about all the delicious things she made for the town of Sidwell. I really enjoyed watching the magic and mystery of this story unfold. 

Read it. 

You can try out the pie recipe Twig's mom makes, or if cupcakes are more your jam, give the Pink Apple Pie Cupcake recipe I whipped up a shot. Thanks again, Cassie for planting that seed! 

 Recipe for Pink Apple Pie Cupcakes

These are a graham cracker cake filled with apples, and topped with a faux whipped cream frosting. They can be refrigerated, but are best served at room temperature.

1/2 salted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup flour (all purpose)
1 cup buttermilk (you can substitute regular milk)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I use a food processor but you can also put them in a freezer bag and smash the crap out of them with a rolling pin.)

Filling: *recipe adapted from
4 Tbsp. salted butter
4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg 
6 Tbs. sugar
6-8 Pink Lady apples, peeled, cored and diced

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners. (Makes 2 dozen cupcakes.) Beat the butter until well creamed. Add the sugar and mix until light and fluffy (2-3 min.). Add the eggs one at a time and mix well. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and graham cracker crumbs. Add 1/3 of the dry mixture to the wet mixture followed by 1/3 of the milk. Mix well. Alternate dry/wet until just combined. 
Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake for 15-18 minutes. 
Sometimes I keep this batter in my freezer and eat it like ice cream. You're welcome.

While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the filling. Peel, core and dice the apples. Heat the butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. Cook until the mixture begins to bubble (about 1 min.). Lower heat to medium. Stir in the apples and cook until the apples are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. 
I could eat this filling straight from the pan, no cupcake required. Don't judge.  

Once the cupcakes are cooled, scoop out the center and fill with apple mixture. Btw, they make a great tool for coring out cupcakes now (see picture). Saves a ton of time. You can find it at Walmart or most craft stores, usually in the cake decorating aisle. A melon scooper or a spoon work too.  

Ignore the chipped polish.

For the frosting...cook egg whites, sugar and vanilla over a double boiler for 3-4 minutes. 
Transfer to a bowl (I use a Kitchen-Aide stand mixer) add cream of tartar and whip 5-7 minutes. Pipe onto cupcakes and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. It's been a long time since I last read an Alice Hoffman novel. But I think I'll pick this one up since it sounds enchanting and I can't ever read too much magical realism.