"A Wind in the Door" Book Discussion and Hot Cocoa Cupcakes Recipe With Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting
Charles Wallace frequently visits the glacier rocks not far from the Murry’s house, a place where a wise old snake named Louise lives. But one day Charles Wallace finds what he believes to be a dragon’s feather. When he returns with Meg, they find a many-eyed, winged creature called a Cherubim, and a very tall, dark man who is a teacher of another kind than what we have on earth. The teacher insists that Meg must take part in three trials, alongside the Cherubim, who will teach her much about new ways to communicate, and about how to love better, even the stodgy principal Mr. Jenkins. If they pass the trials, they will save not only the sickly and dying Charles Wallace, but also stop a great evil in the universe called the Echthroi, who lie and manipulate their way into destroying everything living, even down to a new cellular level that Meg’s parents have only begun to discover the existence of. With Calvin by her side, Meg must find out how to kythe, and what it means for a person to be Named, and to be the truest version of themselves when others deceive and try to make us focus on hate. is a brilliant foray into science fiction, history, math, and the great “what if?” questions of the universe that most adults have forgotten to ask. Filled with the greatest imagination and sacrifices, this story is for anyone questioning who they are, or how to love even the meanest person, and especially for adults who forgot how to imagine or be happy. May our imaginations never be frozen, and may we all always live in harmony. A Wind in the Door
At the very beginning of the book, Meg complains about her mother not getting the spreadable kind of cream cheese for her afternoon snack sandwiches. On the day Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin met the teacher and Proginoskes, the Murry children returned home and shared a cup of cocoa, though it was far past Charles W.’s bedtime. In the memory that Proginoskes helped Meg remember about her parents, her mother was drinking a cup of coffee.
To combine these main ingredients of cream cheese, hot cocoa, and coffee, I created a recipe for hot cocoa cupcakes with cream cheese coffee frosting.
Hot Cocoa Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Coffee Frosting
For the cupcakes:
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk, or heavy whipping cream
- 8 oz hot, strong black coffee
For the frosting:
- 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, at room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp espresso granules, (Cafe Bustelo, NOT instant)
- 1 bag mini marshmallows, you'll use 50 or more
- 1 tbsp whole milk, or heavy whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 350° F. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed, combine the brown and granulated sugars with the oil. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and powder, and cocoa powder. Press the cocoa powder through the sieve if clumps are forming. Sifting, in this case, is more about mixing that aerating the flour. When the sugars are combined, add the room temperature sour cream and milk to the mixer, followed by two teaspoons of vanilla extract. Then drop the speed to low and add the flour slowly, in quarters.
- Add the eggs carefully, one at a time, to the mixture on medium-low speed. When all of that is combined, add the hot coffee and mix on medium speed until fully incorporated. You may need to stop the mixer and scrape down the insides with a rubber spatula. Scoop batter into paper-lined cupcake tins about half-full. Top batter with 2-3 marshmallows, then add about a tablespoon more batter on top, until each cup is about two-thirds full. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
- For the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed. When both appear to be fully combined, add the remaining teaspoon of vanilla extract and the espresso granules. Drop the speed to low and slowly add two cups of powdered sugar, followed by a tablespoon of heavy cream or milk. When those are combined, slowly add the remaining cups of powdered sugar, one at a time. Pipe onto cupcakes that have been cooled about 15 minutes. I used an XL round tip. Top with a few mini marshmallows, and serve alongside a cup of hot cocoa. Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes.
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1.1 Why did Meg get angry whenever she was deeply worried, especially about Charles Wallace?
1.2 Why was Charles Wallace so interested in dragons and mitochondria? Why was that highly unusual?
1.3 Why do people always mistrust people who are different? How different was Charles Wallace from his classmates?
1.4 What are farandolae?
2.1 Why didn’t Meg and Charles have the ability to adapt and get along with others the same as the twins did?
2.2 Why can’t things, such as stars, just vanish? What are the scientific laws about matter?
2.3 do you think Charles would have been better off in a big city school, where there were more kids who were different? Or is being different something people are picked on for, no matter where they are? Why?
3.1 What is Proginoskes? Why doesn’t he look like a fat baby with two useless little wings?
3.2 Why did Blajeny come to earth? What is he?
3.3 Why did Charles Wallace receive the assignment of learning to adapt, but while remaining wholly himself?
3.4 Why was Louise so fond of the twins, Sandy and Dennis? What were they going to be one day?
3.5 How would Meg and Charles Wallace and Calvin be able to tell if Blajeny and Proginoskes were all just part of a dream?
4.1 What is a Namer’s job?
4.2 With whom did Meg feel the least confused? How did he make her feel more of herself?
4.3 Why couldn’t everyone see Proginoskes, even when he was visible and in a body?
4.4 What did it mean that “The Echthroi have Xed”?
4.5 How did thinking of the most comfortable, safest, most ordinary thing help Meg fight her fear about the Echthros? What thing would you think of to help you fight feeling afraid or anxious?
4.6 While Mr. Murry’s intellect focused on pessimism and even despair, what else is there that he chose to see and fixate on to give him hope and to be optimistic? (hint: stars)
5.1 How do cherubim talk, and how was Meg able to do it with Progo? What things are the cherubim able to communicate this way with?
5.2 What does a Namer do? Why did Meg need to love Mr. Jenkins in order to Name him?
5.3 What do you have more of, the more of it you give away?
5.4 What would happen to Progo if they failed all three tests?
5.5 When had Meg felt the very most of herself? When do other people feel that way?
6.1 What pet did Charles Wallace take to school?
6.2 How did Meg shut out her un-love for Mr. Jenkins? What did she focus on instead? How are focus and love for someone connected?
6.3 How can cherubims love if they can’t feel? What is love if not a feeling?
6.4 How did Meg discover the real Mr. Jenkins, and how did she narrow down her options and weed out the impostors?
7.1 Why was Mr. Jenkins a “limited one”?
7.2 What is Metron Ariston?
7.3 How small is a farandola?
7.4 Why do our minds struggle to comprehend microcosmic and macrocosmic things like farandola and mitochondria, galaxies and the universe?
7.5 The Echthroi are those who hate, and who would un_________ people.
7.6 It is the nature of hate to destroy, but the nature of love to do what?
7.7 Who else was in Meg and Progo’s “class” on Metron Ariston?
7.8 Does our earth host ever communicate with other planets? Why?
8.1 Who was the point of equilibrium of the universe?
8.2 We—human beings, mitochondria, farandolae, our planet, and the solar system—all have to live together in what_____________ or we won’t live at all.
8.3 What did Blajeny show Meg to encourage her before she went on to her next trial?
8.4 Eyes aren’t needed on the interior, so what can nobody there can do?
8.5 How long is Meg named for?
8.6 How did Meg hold Mr. Jenkins’ hand?
8.7 What was the second test?
8.8 “Human beings need Deepening places too. And far too many never have any.” What were Meg’s? What about other characters? Do you have any?
8.9 What was wrong with Mr. Jenkins’ imagination?
9.1 What did Calvin send to Meg to help her come back? Why did it help? What things would have worked for other characters?
9.2 What is the downfall of the Deepening Ones?
9.3 what did the little farandolae do to distract the Echthros-Mr. Jenkins?
9.4 who was their human host who was in danger?
9.5 Why did Mr. Jenkins take a longer time at kything than the children did? What can adults sometimes do with kything that the children couldn’t?
9.6 What is the connection between Naming, kything, and Mr. Jenkins’ fear? Each one that is named is u__________?
9.7 What was Meg finally able to do for Mr. Jenkins?
10.1 Did Mr. Jenkins ever walk through the woods or imagine that if he knew the language of the wind between the trees, he could understand what they were saying? How is that a form of kything? What are other inanimate objects that kythe? How?
10.2 What was Calvin’s fourth-grade science project? How would it help Mr. Jenkins understand kything?
10.3 What happened to the biologist’s plant when he took off or landed on an airplane?
10.4 Does distance or size or even time matter when it comes to this type of connection?
10.5 What happened to Calvin’s three beans?
10.6 What does love and encouragement do for something’s growth? What happens if they aren’t loved? Why should we show love then, and to whom?
10.7 What is the temptation for farandolae or man or a star to stay as?
11.1 How did farae know about stars?
11.2 Why did Hitler want to control the world? Or the Echthroi to stop the farandolae from Deepening?
11.3 Sporos and his generation were listening to those who would silence the singing, who would put out the ___________ of the ____________?
11.4 Sporos thought that he and his kind didn’t need to Deepen, and that they were the ones who were g_________ as well as the greatest beings in the universe. While they were unique and had a purpose, why weren’t they the greatest?
11.5 It is only when we are fully rooted that we are really able to move. Where was Senex able to move and how? How did romping and the former motion of being young actually limit the real motion?
11.6 What did Senex and the Deepened, rooted farae share in with the universe?
11.7 By their arrogance, how did the young farandolae make Yada suffer?
11.8 The Echthros-Mr. Jenkins lied to the farandolae and told them that if they listened to and obeyed him, they would be powerful like him and rule the what?
11.9 All farandolae are r_________. All singers of the song are princes. What does that mean, or have to do with being unique and having a purpose (being part of the great plan)?
11.10 Why did Mr. Jenkins pour life back into Meg and hold tight to her? Did he know what would happen to him?
12.1 Why was Mr Jenkins possessed by Echthroi? Why was Meg the only one who could save him, and not Proginoskes?
12.2 What was the something deeper, more real, beyond, past, through the senses that was the true person of Mr. Jenkins? Does everyone have a more real part of themselves than their physical appearance? If so, what is it? Is it sometimes easier to love that than the physical person?
12.3 What was the single phrase Meg heard Mr. Jenkins repeating “Nature abhors a __________?
12.4 How did she fill it?
12.5 What happened to Proginoskes?
12.6 What was the song about which Senex, the Deepening Sporos, and the farae sang of?
12.7 How did Meg and how can we hold the stars and each other?
12.8 Who else had to be named and how did it defeat them?
12.9 What did Charles Wallace still need to learn to do? Did he imagine his dragons?
12.10 Why don’t we have to count the stars? What is more important to know? Does this apply to people too and if so, how?
The next books in this series are , Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time. Another family adventure series by Madeleine L’Engle begins with Meet the Austins. This book follows the adventures of Meg and Charles Wallace, who saved their father from an evil planet in A Swiftly Tilting Planet A Wrinkle in Time.
Similar fantasy/time and planet travel series books for children is The Chronicles of Narnia Series by C. S. Lewis, which can be started with the first book or the second: . The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman is similar in the bird-creatures disappearing into the sky, and the way that a young child helps with the fabric of time and defeating evil.
Other common age-appropriate adventure and sci-fi books include The Phantom Tollbooth, The Bridge to Terabithia, and The Neverending Story.
“You are called, and anybody who is invited to study with one of the Teachers is called because he is needed. You have talents we cannot afford to lose.”
“Before your time with me is over, I may have to take you great distances, and to very strange places.”
“What is real?”
“Too many of my colleagues have forgotten that they are supposed to practice the art of healing. If I don’t have the gift of healing in my hands, then all my expensive training isn’t worth much.”
“You mean he makes you feel more you, don’t you?”
“I’m real, and most earthlings can bear very little reality.”
“In a world which has become so blunted by dishonor and violence that people casually take it for granted.”
“There are still stars which move in beautiful and ordered rhythm. There are still people in this world who keep promises. Even little ones...that is enough to keep my heart optimistic, no matter how pessimistic my mind...The naked intellect is an extraordinarily inaccurate instrument.”
“The cherubic language is entirely kything—with you, with stars, with galaxies, with the salt in the ocean, the leaves of the trees.”
“We don’t have to know everything at once. We just do one thing at a time, as it is given us to do.”
“Love isn’t how you feel. It’s what you do.”
“It is the nature of love to create. It is the nature of hate to destroy.”
“We have to live together in harmony or we won’t live at all.”
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Amanda Leitch