The Sweet Hereafter: Nichole Burnell

You still with me? Good.

Our last perspective is from Nichole Burnell. Nichole was on the bus the day of the accident and survived, though not without some cost. She is now paralyzed from the waist down. She has to relearn simple tasks knowing that walking will never be one of them. But the town still says she’s lucky.

 She’s lucky to be alive, but more so, she’s lucky because she doesn’t remember much of the accident. Nichole doesn’t feel the same luck now that the town sees her as “wheelchair girl.” She even went as far as telling Mitchell Stephens, “ You can feel lucky you didn’t die for only so long.”

 Being the poor, broken survivor of the accident took its toll on Nichole. The town lingered with whispers about what happened on that bus and leaned on Nichole to help put the pieces together. Mitchell Stephens made this especially difficult. He was persistent, which is why they paid him the big city bucks. Nichole just wanted it to end, so she lied.

 Nichole told the court she was scared the moments leading up to the accident because of how fast the bus was going in such hazardous weather conditions. She said, with conviction that Dolores Driscoll was driving at 73 MPH when the accident happened. She knew she was lying and her father understood why. She wanted to madness to end and she wanted the town to move on. Just like she would never walk again because of the accident, the children that died that day would never come back. By pointing the finger and giving the town a reason for how the accident happened, Nichole gave the town closure.

 I saved the best recipe for last: Salted Caramel Mocha Crepe. What better way to end this four-part blog post than with a chocolate crepe, stuffed with coffee mousse and drizzled with caramel and salt.

 Salted Caramel Mocha Crepes

Makes 8 Crepes

Ingredients for Coffee Mousse

(Adapted from Mario Batali’s Coppette al Caffe recipe)

5 Tablespoons hot water

3 Tablespoons instant coffee granules

3 Egg yolks

1/2 Cup sugar

Dash salt

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 1/2 Teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 Cup whole milk

1 Cup heavy cream

2 Tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

Ingredients for Chocolate Crepes

1 Cup whole milk

4 Tablespoons butter, melted

2 Egg yolks

2 Teaspoons vanilla extract

2 Tablespoons chocolate liquer

3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

5 Tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

2/3 Cup all-purpose flour

Ingredients for Salted Caramel Topping

1/4 Cup packed brown sugar

1/4 Cup sweetened condensed milk

1/4 Cup butter

1 Tablespoon light corn syrup

1 Tablespoon coarse ground salt


  1. To make the coffee mousse, mix together the hot water and instant coffee granules until it is well combined. Then, with a wooden spoon, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, the instant coffee mixture, a dash of milk and salt together in a saucepan. Turn the heat onto medium-low. Gradually add in the rest of the milk and continue to whisk until the mixture has the consistency of pudding. Put this mixture in a bowl, cover with cling wrap, and set in the fridge to cool for at least 2 hours.
  2. Once the coffee custard is cooled, push the mixture through a strainer to make sure there are no clumps. In an electric mixer, whisk together the heavy cream until it begins to hold a firm peak. Then, add in the remaining vanilla extract along with the confectioner’s sugar. Whisk until all the ingredients are combined and the heavy cream holds a firm peak.
  3. Add your coffee custard to the whipping cream and fold them together. Once they are evenly mixed, set aside in refrigerator.
  4. To make the chocolate crepes, put the milk, melted butter, egg yolks, vanilla extract, chocolate liqueur, cocoa powder, and confectioner’s sugar in a blender and mix on high for 30 seconds. Then add in the flour and mix until all combined. Put the batter through a strainer to get all of the clumps out.
  5. Grease a large frying pan and pour 1/4 C of the batter into the pan, moving the pan in a circular motion. Allow to cook for 2 minutes. Then flip it on the other side and cook for another minute. Do this until you use all your batter.
  6. To make the caramel, put butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan and cook on medium until it begins to bubble, while mixing constantly.
  7. To assemble your crepes, drizzle some caramel over the crepe. Then, spoon your coffee mousse in a even line along one side of the crepe. Then roll the crepe. Drizzle more caramel over the crepe and top with salt.

“But Daddy knew why I had lied. He knew who was normal and who wasn’t. Mr. Stephens could never know the truth, but Daddy always would.” ~ Nichole Burnell, The Sweet Hereafter



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3 Responses to The Sweet Hereafter: Nichole Burnell

  1. Pat and Angel says:

    Instant coffee ??? Ewww, seriously?? , That is so gross….. (Yes the Geico commercial)
    They look wonderful, what local bakery has coffee mousse, that’s the bees knees, thanks Baker !!

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