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Illustrated by Brooke Boynton Hughes
Cover design or artwork by Brooke Boynton Hughes
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The guests are late, and the roof has collapsed over the town’s food pantry, leaving many without a holiday meal. Will Delia and Willow be able to help the town’s hungry while giving Cat and Mr. Henry the wedding they’ve dreamed of?
Test tasty recipes included throughout as the whole Bumpus family celebrates the true meaning of the holiday season in the final book in the Cupcake Cousins series.
Praise for Cupcake Cousins
“[D]ebut novelist Hannigan has assembled all the ingredients for an entertaining and gentle-natured family tale. Delia’s anxieties and Willow’s struggle to be seen as more than a little kid are relatable, and first-time illustrator Hughes’s spot illustrations give a good sense of the girls, the vacation home they love, and the matter-of-fact racial diversity of their clan.” — Publishers Weekly
“Hughes’ cheery black-and-white illustrations capture the cousins’ exuberance, highlighting both misadventures and sentimental moments. . . . Hannigan’s lively tale celebrates family and friendship.” — Kirkus Reviews
Also by Kate Hannigan
Cupcake Cousins: Summer Showers
Text copyright © 2016 by Kate Hannigan
Illustrations copyright © 2016 by Brooke Boynton Hughes
Cover design by Phil Caminiti
All rights reserved. Published by Disney • Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher.
For information address Disney • Hyperion, 125 West End Avenue, New York, New York 10023.
Publisher’s Note: The recipes contained in this book are to be followed exactly as written, under adult supervision. The Publisher is not responsible for your specific health or allergy needs that may require medical supervision. The Publisher is not responsible for any adverse reactions to the recipes contained in this book.
for my wacky & wonderful cousins in the nolan,
shea, and mcconville families
for kate hannigan, with admiration
The Wedding Party
Sweet William Sweeney
The Reverend Roland Rickles Presiding
You girls look colder than icicles on an igloo!” came Cat Sutherland’s voice from the yellow porch of the Arts & Eats Café. Willow Sweeney and her cousin Delia Dees had been making snow angels and playing hide-and-seek among the Christmas decorations in the front yard.
Now they were in the middle of a snowball fight. And Willow’s throw proved pretty good as she pelted Delia squarely in the chest. Delia was ducking behind a bright red sleigh for protection, taking aim to launch a snowball right back at her cousin, when Willow called over to Cat.
“Come join us!” she shouted. “You can help build a snow fort!”
“And then we’ll launch an attack on the rest of the family,” added Delia, though she hurled one last snowball at Willow for good measure.
“Why don’t y’all join me in the kitchen? I’m fixin’ to make some snowball cookies, and I’d be happy to pour hot chocolates.”
As much as Willow loved snowball fights, snowball cookies and cocoa sounded a lot more tempting. Delia seemed to agree, and they raced to meet Cat on the porch steps. Together the three crunched through the frozen snow toward Whispering Pines next door.
“I’m so happy you’re here again, Willow,” Delia said as they stepped through the door into the warm kitchen. “Cat and I have been counting down the days until the Chicago families arrived.”
Willow had been counting too. “I couldn’t wait to come back to Saugatuck,” she said, shaking the snow from her springy hair, “even if it is freezing this time of year.”
“I wish you lived here with us,” said Delia with a big grin. “You make everything more fun! Especially Christmas!”
“And weddings too, y’all,” reminded Cat. “We’ve only got a few days.”
Willow peeled off her mittens and began blowing on her freezing hands. As Cat and Delia wriggled out of their layers of scarves and hats and heavy sweaters, Willow stepped farther into the kitchen. Her eyes drank in the familiar sights: the white curtains at the windows, the island counter in the middle of it all, the pots and pans hanging from the rack just above the island.
Willow let out a deep sigh. Saugatuck was just what she needed right now. After everything that had gone on at school these past few weeks, Willow finally felt her shoulders relax. Spending winter break with Delia in Cat’s kitchen, well…there was no better place on earth. Willow closed her eyes and made a quick wish that she could leave Chicago behind and live here all year long.
“Nice holiday touch,” she said, poking the mistletoe bunches that dangled from red ribbons between the pots and pans. “Everything looks so cheery for your Christmas wedding, Cat!”
“I’m so grateful y’all are going to be my junior bridesmaids,” Cat replied. She was pouring milk into a chocolate mixture on the stove.
Delia gave Willow’s arm a playful nudge, and Willow nudged her right back. Nothing could beat being junior bridesmaids together. And their dresses were so much better than the pink disasters they’d worn at Aunt Rosie’s wedding. This time, Cat had allowed them to pick the color: a dark green, and made of soft velvet too.
Just thinking about Cat’s wedding and her first Christmas in Saugatuck, Willow felt as if her whole body were bouncing—from her hair all the way to her toes. Though at this time of year, she was wearing thick wool socks instead of flip-flops.
“And I’m thankful y’all are willing to help me bake everything for my wedding day,” Cat said, stirring the cocoa with a long wooden spoon.
Willow stopped her bouncing. “You’ll be in the kitchen with us, right? Over the summer, you promised to share your cooking secrets. Will you still? Because I could sure use them.”
“I never go back on my word, y’all,” Cat began. “So here’s the first secret: hot cocoa tastes best when it’s made nice and slow on the stove, with a dash of salt and vanilla.”
“Salt?” gasped Delia with a grin. “Don’t you mean sugar? You know how bad it can get when those two are mixed up!”
Willow smacked her hand to her forehead. The memory of their salty lemonade made her cringe. That was back during Aunt Rosie’s wedding, when the cousins first met Cat.
“We’ve got no time for mix-ups this week, y’all,” Cat said seriously. “The wedding is on Sunday, and only the three of us will be making the food. I don’t want to bring in any strangers—not when I have you two girls.”
And Cat gave them both a confident wink.
Delia winked back, but Willow didn’t feel so confident. She was remembering all the cooking they’d done on their summer vacations. Willow and Delia had saved Aunt Rosie’s wedding cake, and they’d pulled off the baby shower without a hitch. Well, maybe there were one or two hitches….But this time, the stakes felt higher. It was Cat after all, a real-live chef! And Mr. Henry was the owner of Whispering Pines. Even though they both felt like family, Willow knew deep down this was different. Could she and Delia really cook for something as important as Cat and Mr. Henry’s wedding?
Without any disasters?
Willow shot a look over at her cousin, who was beaming like a Christmas tree strung with lights. So Willow forced a grin too and tried to imagine what sort of things she, Delia, and Cat would make together this week. Maybe with advice from a professional like Cat, plus a little Christmas good luck—if she could find any—everything would turn out okay.
“I thought I’d put you girls in charge of the wedding desserts,” Cat said. “Think that’s something you two can handle?”
And with Cat’s Southern way of talking, it came out sounding like hayn-del.
Delia nodded, her braids springing in all directions, almost like Willow’s crazy curls. “Of course we can! What will you do while Willow and I are handling desserts?”
“Y’all, some people dream of climbing mountains or inventing new gadgets,” Cat explained as she poured the cocoa into three mugs. “For me, it’s making my own weddin’ cake. I’ll be busy as popcorn on a skillet these next few days. So I’m really counting on you girls.”
Delia promised Cat that her wedding desserts were in good hands. And raising their cocoa delicately in the air, the three chefs clinked mugs.
Willow inhaled the warm, chocolatey smell and avoided Delia’s gaze. She just wasn’t feeling the same confidence, not after all that had happened at school last month.
“Maybe you could call in a few caterers to help out,” Willow said softly, shrugging her shoulders. “Just in case we mess up or something.”
Delia stopped sipping and stared over her mug at Willow. She raised a single eyebrow, questioning. But Willow stepped away, as if to say, Later. Not now.
She planned to explain it all to Delia at some point. But with Cat sitting here, it wasn’t the right time.
Thankfully the door from the porch opened, and Willow’s little brother, Sweet William, thumped into the kitchen. He was wearing his heavy snow boots, and Bernice, the family’s enormous Bernese mountain dog, was following closely on his heels. The honking at the screen door let them know Gossie and her three goslings, Bill, Pat, and Jimmy, were nearby.
“I need some carrots and maybe some celery, please, Ms. Cat,” Sweet William was saying, his cheeks nearly as red as his wool hat. “Bernice and Gossie and me are making reindeer feeders. I got some string from Mr. Henry, ’cause we’re going to hang the treats from the trees. If I can catch Santa’s reindeer, maybe I can ask him for a special Christmas present!”
Cat grabbed a small basket and began filling it with treats that could tempt reindeer: celery, carrots, a few red apples, and green pears. “Don’t hang things all in one place,” she advised. “Spread it out through the whole yard.”
Bernice let out a happy bark and wagged her tail, and Sweet William gave a quick salute. Then they marched back onto the porch with Gossie and her army of goslings waddling close behind.
“I wonder what he’ll do with Santa if he catches him,” Cat said, the screen door making a muffled thwack! “Maybe take a ride in his sleigh?”
“He doesn’t really need that,” Delia said. “My mom and dad found an old-fashioned sleigh at a flea market and parked it out front of the café. It looks just like something Santa would drive.”
“Didn’t I hit that thing with a snowball?” wondered Willow, tipping the cocoa mug to drink up the last precious drop. “Maybe Santa left the sleigh here years ago when he built a new one. We’ll have to tell Sweet William about it.”
Cocoa cups emptied, Cat pulled out the ingredients to make the snowball cookies. She led the cousins in mixing and mashing and rolling and baking, calling them real professionals. Willow pulled out her tattered recipe notebook from the polka-dotted bag she’d left near the door. And as Cat shared her wisdom, Willow took detailed notes of every step.
“Sifting the flour and sugar gets the bugs out,” Cat explained from behind a cloud of powdery sugar, “and it gets the lumps, too.”
With the cousins busy forming the cookie dough into small balls, Cat began working on the batter for her wedding cake. And she shared a few more baking secrets—“eggs should be room temperature,” “butter should be soft”—as she whisked. In between sifting and stirring and mixing, Willow jotted down every word.
Before long, the kitchen was filled with the mouthwatering aroma of freshly baked cookies. When the timer beeped, Delia and Willow pulled the two trays out of the oven and set them on the stovetop to cool.
Willow inhaled the delicious smells, then let out a deep sigh of relief. “Phew! They’re not burnt!”
Again, Delia raised a single eyebrow in Willow’s direction, silently asking a question.
“It smells so good in here, I hate to leave,” Cat announced. “But I’m all out of flour, girls, so I have to run to the store.” Tugging her cat’s-eye glasses from her nose, she took a moment to clean them with the corner of a tea towel.
“I know this kitchen is safe with y’all in charge. I’ll be back, quick as a snowman on ice skates.” And she slipped into her coat and hat without bothering to take off her flour-dusted apron.
With the kitchen to themselves now, Delia and Willow rolled the warm cookies in powdered sugar. Then they began lining up their treats in a container to keep until Cat’s wedding on Sunday.
“Willow,” Delia began softly, “what is going on? You’re usually the one who’s crazy for doing all the cooking. But now you want Cat to call in backup chefs in case we mess up. What’s the matter?”
Willow slowly rolled another snowball cookie through the powdered sugar. She didn’t know where to begin. She fidgeted in her socks, sneaking a peek at her cousin’s worried face.
“School,” Willow said, finding it hard to get the words out. “We had a bake sale last month. I made dozens of cupcakes and cookies. But it turns out they weren’t very—”
Willow caught her breath, blinking fast so the tears wouldn’t come. Cupcakes weren’t something to cry about. She sniffled once, noticing how quiet the kitchen had become. Delia was standing motionless as she waited for Willow to go on. But what more was there to say?
“Delia, everybody laughed at me.”
Cat’s Nice-’N’-Slow Hot Cocoa
Make this delicious wintery drink when the temperature starts to dip. But as with whipping up lemonade in the summertime, be sure you don’t confuse the salt and the sugar!
8 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoons powdered sugar
¹⁄8 teaspoon salt
4 cups milk
1. Make sure you have an adult’s help.
2. Break the chocolate into smaller pieces using your hand or a dull knife.
3. Add the chocolate, vanilla, powdered sugar, and salt into a pot on the stove. Over low temperature, stir until the chocolate has melted and all the ingredients are mixed together.
4. Pour milk into the pot, and bring to a simmer.
5. Heat thoroughly, about 5 minutes. Take turns stirring with your cousin or friend so the milk doesn’t burn and your arm doesn’t fall off.
6. Pour into mugs, and enjoy!
Makes 4 mugs of hot cocoa.
It’s okay, Willow,” Delia began, sitting down on the stool beside Willow. “Everybody messes up now and then. It doesn’t matter.”
“Yes, it does, Delia.” Willow’s words were low and quiet, all the spring gone from her voice. “It’s one thing to mess up here, when it’s just family. They have to love us anyway. But at school, well…you know how it can be.”
Delia gave Willow’s sugary hand a squeeze. It told Willow that she did know.
“You just need to get your confidence back,” Delia said, nibbling a snowball cookie, then sharing it with Willow. “Since it’s winter, there aren’t any hummingbirds to bring us good luck. But maybe we’ll find a little Christmas magic instead.
“At Christmas, Willow,” she added, her voice growing cheerful again, “anything is possible! Everybody knows that!”
- On Sale
- Sep 5, 2017
- Page Count
- 240 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers