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"One Day in December" Book Discussion and Chocolate Cupcake Recipe Topped With Chocolate Mousse

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

once-upon-a-december-book-discussion-and-recipe

Single, sarcastic girl makes eye contact across a crowded bus station with handsome boy, and wishes she got off the bus and got his number. Then the girl—Laurie—spends the next year searching for him in every pub in London. A year later at a Christmas party, Laurie’s best friend, Sarah, brings home Jack, the boyfriend she’s been talking about for ages, and of course, it’s Mr. bus stop. Instead of coming clean, they both decide to squash their feelings for each other and get along as friends, because they really, deeply love Sarah and just want her to be happy.


With all the awkward hilarity we adore in a romantic comedy, as well as gripping, heartbreaking drama for characters struggling to fulfill their dreams, One Day in December will keep you as obsessed with the story as the characters are with wine and their strange sandwiches made of cranberry, chicken, blue cheese, and mayo— the Delancey Street Special. This book is a clever span across a decade into the lives of three intimate friends, who grow together and apart, because “sometimes you just meet the right person at the wrong time.”

Perfect for fans of

  • Romantic comedies/dramas
  • Love triangles
  • Friendship stories
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Love Actually
  • Sleepless in Seattle

Discussion Questions

  1. What was Laurie’s dream job? Why was it so much harder for her to break into that than it was for Sarah or Jack?
  2. Did Jack think it was possible for men and women to have platonic friendships? Was he right?
  3. Why did Laurie “always say I only have a brother whenever anyone asks...it’s easier than telling people the truth”? What was the truth? Why did she confide in Jack about it?
  4. What is a Secret Cinema and what kind did Sarah take Laurie to?
  5. If Laurie could have had a personal Tardis take her anywhere, why would she have chosen to go back to December 21, 2008?
  6. Why didn’t Laurie (and Jack) know if telling Sarah the truth would have been the honorable thing, or just a way to make Laurie feel better and Sarah feel worse? What do you think they should have done?
  7. Why did Oscar call Laurie a starfish, and why did it irritate Jack so much?
  8. Why did Laurie not believe that “there’s only one person in the world for each of us,” and that that idea is “too fanciful, too limiting”? Is it true that if you give it time, you can think about someone less?
  9. Why were the “million tiny compromises” in Sarah and Jack’s relationship the bad kind for them to be making? Why and how were they each “making an effort to be someone so slightly different” from who they really were? What are the good compromises to make in a relationship?
  10. Who did Laurie think about when someone said “the man you’ve always dreamed of”? Why?
  11. Was “hemorrhaging the people she loved” “just a fact of life” fro Laurie? Do you “have to grow up and shed your old friends like papery snakeskin to make room for the new”? Which friends did she keep and why? What makes some friendships end, no matter how hard we try to keep them?
  12. What did Laurie mean about starting out at “one hundred percent or if they can start at...seventy, and work their way up”? To whom was she referring? Is is possible to work up from 70%, or even less?
  13. Why did Laurie marry Oscar? How did she see her marriage? How did he?
  14. Who was Rhona and what part did the radio play at the end of the story?

The Recipe

Chocolate is a prevalent flavor mentioned throughout this book, from Laurie’s fondness for an extra chocolate biscuit, to chocolate eclairs, and even a chocolate mousse served at a dinner party. Of course, the famous Laurie and Sarah sandwich special included cranberry jam as one of its ingredients, so to incorporate all of these, I’ve developed a recipe for:

Chocolate Cranberry Cupcakes with Chocolate Mousse Topping

Chocolate Cranberry Cupcakes with Easy Chocolate Mousse Frosting

once-upon-a-december-book-discussion-and-recipe

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup coffee, hot, freshly brewed
  • 12 teaspoons whole berry cranberry sauce

For the frosting:

  • 1 box (any 1-3 oz) chocolate pudding mix
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract, imitation or instant, either is fine
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened dark cocoa powder

Chocolate Cranberry Cupcakes with Chocolate Mousse Frosting

once-upon-a-december-book-discussion-and-recipe

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325° F. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together sugars with the oil on medium-high speed for one minute. In a separate bowl, sift or stir together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Drop the mixer to the lowest speed and slowly add the flour mix, followed by the heavy cream, two teaspoons of vanilla, and the egg.
  2. Allow to combine for about two minutes, until the wet and dry ingredients seem fully incorporated. Stop the mixer to scrape down the insides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if anything is sticking to the walls of the bowl and not adding in to the batter. On the lowest speed, slowly and carefully pour in the hot coffee a little at a time. When all of it is in the bowl, stop the mixer, scoop any batter from the bottom of the bowl to the top, and mix for two minutes on medium speed. Scoop into paper-lined cupcake tins about half-way up or less. Spoon in one teaspoon per cupcake of the cranberry sauce, then dollop a little more batter on top, about a teaspoon or less. The cupcake tins should be about 2/3 full each when completed.
  3. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until you can insert a toothpick into the side of each cake (not the center where the cranberry is) and it comes out clean of any raw batter or crumbs (the centers should be gooey from the cranberry sauce). Makes 1 dozen cupcakes.
  4. For the mousse frosting: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, pour in the pudding mix, the two tablespoons of cocoa powder, the teaspoon of vanilla extract, and the heavy whipping cream. Mix on low for 30 seconds until there is no more loose powder that can come up from the bowl, then increase the speed to medium-high and whip for about 2-3 minutes, until stiff peaks form. You can check this by stopping the mixer, detaching the whisk, and dipping the tip of the whisk in the mousse. If a peak comes with it and stays atop the whisk when you slowly flip it upside-down, it’s ready. If it’s runny still, whip for a minute or two longer. Frost using a piping bag and tip onto cupcakes that have cooled at least ten to fifteen minutes. Refrigerate if not enjoying immediately, and store in the fridge, not on a counter.

Rate the Recipe

Chocolate Cranberry Cupcakes with Chocolate Mousse Topping

once-upon-a-december-book-discussion-and-recipe

What to Read Next?

The author mentions two books that influenced her writing this one: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

Books mentioned within this one are The Beach, The Great Gatsby, the movie Love Actually, which is also a screenplay, the character Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games books, as well as a song quote from the musical, My Fair Lady, which is an adaptation of the play Pygmalion.

For another romantic drama about two people who belong together, read Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly, or The Bookshop on the Corner or Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan.

For an entertaining contemporary teen fiction about drama and romance, read Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty.

Notable Quotes

“It’s a wonder everyone who uses public transport in winter doesn’t keel over and die of germ overload. I the last ten minutes I’ve been coughed on and sneezed at, and if the woman in front of me shakes her dandruff my way again, I might just douse her with the dregs of the lukewarm coffee that I’m no longer able to drink because it’s full of her scalp.”

“...maybe...the very best outcome for all of us is exactly what’s come to pass. He’s in my life and I’m glad of him. It’s enough.”

“Christmas insults my eyeballs everywhere I look; I’ve been shopping for the last few hours and I’m at the point where I want to bludgeon Rudolph, bump off Mariah Carey, and strangle the next person who pushes me with the nearest string of tinsel.”

“They say that the human brain likes to follow repetitive patterns, and I’ve found that to be quite true.”

“It’ll come good again. It always does.”

“...this isn’t make-believe, it’s real life, and in real life people make mistakes.”

“If I tell you something, do you promise to never tell another living soul, not even a goldfish?”

“I don’t believe there’s only one person in the world for each of us.”

“There comes a point where you have to make the choice to be happy, because being sad for too long is exhausting.”

“Just be...it’s all you can do right now. Hang in there.”

“The important thing is the choices we make when we are being tested. Being married...is a choice. It’s saying I choose you.”

“Your place isn’t somewhere, it’s someone.”

“You never stop caring about someone, even if you don’t want to be with them anymore.”

© 2018 Amanda Leitch

Comments

Jayne Martoaran on January 08, 2019:

Great article and Discussion Questions!

Pam Lorenzo on January 01, 2019:

Great story and delicious recipe.

Naude Lorenzo on December 31, 2018:

You amaze with every new book and recipe, this is great, thank you so much, this is fantastic

Alexander James Guckenberger from Maryland, United States of America on December 31, 2018:

Girl, you're making me hungry. Mouth's watering - Ima go get something to eat now. XD

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