Hagrid’s Rock Cakes didn’t sound so appetizing in the Harry Potter books, but this mini version is lightly sweetened, moist and tasty.
I didn’t want to read the Harry Potter books.
When Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was first released in the United States in 1998, I barely noticed. When the next books — the Chamber of Secrets and the Prisoner of Azkaban — were released, I heard some rumblings but ignored them, writing it all off as kid stuff. I mean, it was. They were children’s books, after all, and I was just out of high school.
And yet, it seemed like with every release, more people read them — kids at first, and then adults too. There was a passionate fervor surrounding them, and a surprising anticipation that came with each release. In 2000, when Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was released, kids dressed as wizards with jagged marks on their foreheads and descended on the bookstore nearby where I worked. Actually, so did some adults too. There were strange robes, broomsticks and wands. So many people were excited … for a book.
I hadn’t seen anything like that before. It wasn’t just the release parties and the excitement that swelled around each new volume, movies were coming too. J.K. Rowling’s story — her personal story — had touched so many people. And everyone seemed to be talking about those books. Children’s books.
But yet, the more popular the books became, the less I wanted to read them. I was still a teenager, and in a phase of life where I didn’t want to be mainstream. Or usual. Or like everyone else. So what that all four books were on the New York Times’ bestsellers list for children’s literature at the same time? I didn’t care. More accurately, I didn’t want to care.
But then the summer of 2001 happened. I was a freshly minted college graduate with a job at a publisher in lower Manhattan, living in Connecticut. That meant a long commute both ways, daily, which gave me hours to read. That summer I devoured everything from chick lit by authors like Candace Bushnell and Jane Green to crime novels by authors like Mario Puzo and Scott Turow to whatever John Grisham had new then — he was stepping away from his legal fiction at the time. I read dozens and dozens of books that summer … And at some point, I felt like I’d had enough chick lit and crime novels. I needed something different.
Meanwhile, the Harry Potter books had been staring me down every time I went into the Union Square Barnes and Noble (read: every day). After circling them for weeks, I finally decided to read just one. Just to see what the hype was about.
Then I understood.
From the moment Hagrid arrived on Harry’s 11th birthday with a cake and an invitation to Hogwart’s, I was hooked. I could picture Diagon Alley, and feel the anticipation of the sorting hat ceremony. I wanted to have a seat in the Potion’s class too, and perhaps have a flying lesson. Maybe.
A day or two later, I was back for the second book. And within a week, I’d read all four books. That was all that were out then. It’d be two years before another book came out.
It’s been years now, but I still adore the wondrous, different, amazing world J.K. Rowling created. It’s captivated generations of folks, both with the books and the movies. Theme parks have sprung up. Costumes are a perennial favorite. And Pottermore, Rowling’s website, has allowed us to be sorted into houses, issued our wands and explored our patronuses.
More recently, my kids have fallen in love too. I read them the first few books in the series several years ago, together on the old soft couch. But then last year, they and their friends got swept up in the story, reading the whole series. A few months ago, we watched the movies too.
To see the magical world open up to them … it’s priceless.
So this past summer, when Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was to be released, our favorite children’s bookstore planned an epic midnight release party, and though that’s well past my kids’ bedtimes, we went. It was huge. And crazy. And different. And it was also one of those experiences we’ll never forget. We all dressed up — I was Belatrix LaStrange, Will was a wizarding student and Paige was Hermoine Granger, from the Ice Ball. And in the masses of people that descended on our downtown, we found kindred spirits — people who love the worlds created as much as we do.
Who knew that a series of books — children’s books — could bring people together like that?
For the party, I donated a few Harry Potter themed treats, though they ended up being insufficient for the crazy amount of people that showed up — way more than expected. Among what I made were these lightly sweetened treat filled with dark chocolate and dried cranberries.
These Mini Dark Chocolate Cranberry Rock Cakes are based on something that Hagrid makes in the books — though his version wasn’t so appetizing as these. Honestly, in the book they sound awful — hard as a rock. But that’s okay … why can’t they be tasty in real life?
These little confections may look like scones, but really they are more of a cross between a cookie and a scone. Lightly sweetened, they derive much of their sweetness from the dark chocolate and dried cranberries on the inside, and coating of coarse sugar on the outside.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 tablespoon whipping cream, if desired
- Coarse sugar, if desired
- Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and using pastry blender or pulling 2 table knives in opposite directions, cut in the butter to form coarse crumbs. Stir in chocolate chips and cranberries; set aside.
- In medium mixing bowl, beat together eggs and 1/2 cup whipping cream until well blended. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the egg mixture. With rubber spatula, fold together all ingredients until combined and smooth.
- Using medium cookie scoop, scoop out 24 balls of dough onto cookie sheet. Brush tops with 1 tablespoon whipping cream; sprinkle with coarse sugar.
- Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Serve immediately. Store cooled rock cakes in airtight container; best eaten within 2 days.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.