Well, I finished the challenge early. Because it’s Sarah Addison Allen, and her books read like water through my fingers, I finished The Sugar Queen in a week.
Want a quick review? It’s a good book, but I found it a little flat compared to Garden Spells. The characters and the twists were, to me, predictable in this one. BUT the book is still charming, and as usual there is a sense of place being a character. I have never lived in an area where the identity of citizens was so closely tied to place as it is in Allen’s books, but I find it a compelling thought. These people have a sense of identity that spans generations, but they also get tied to a place in the way that we sometimes get tied to our younger-self reputations.
As you might imagine, there is a lot of sugar in the book. So I chose to make an original dessert for the challenge! Being all gluten-free now, and not wanting to subject my coworkers to Recipe Failure, I tried making Peppermint Cremes.
In the book, the main character’s mother sprinkles peppermint essence on every portal as a ward against unwanted visitors, so the main character smells like peppermint. She also gravitates toward a fitted red cardigan/sweater but spends a lot of time in the snow, which makes for a lovely peppermint visual. I wanted something white, for that snow aspect of the story, but also something very sweet and simple. And then I put chocolate atop it because I could.
This is a dessert that has been around for hundreds of years, and requires no baking. It didn’t come out the consistency I had imagined/hoped it would (which is a merengue-like airy confection), but it did taste delicious. I know, because I had nearly a dozen ALL BY MYSELF. Don’t judge me.
How do you make these darling little treats?
- Take 2 egg whites and put ’em in a bowl.
- Whisk until white and fluffy.
- Add a lot of powdered/confectioner’s sugar. I started with a cup and then just kept adding, and adding, and adding.
- Add a few (ONLY A FEW) drops peppermint extract.
- Combine well, until you get a dough ball type consistency.
- Add a handful of coconut flakers/shavings.
- Either roll out onto a sugared surface so you can cut objects with a cookie cutter, or use a spoon to “drop” small dots onto a lined cookie sheet (my batter was too thin, in retrospect, and I made mine way too big…ideally, you want each one the size of a quarter).
- Let them set overnight.
- Optional: melt some dark chocolate and drizzle is atop each one.
These babies tasted like York Peppermint Patties to me. They are really nice as an after-meal snack, given the peppermint-ness.