Book Bites is a collaborative series between two book-loving friends. Each month we pick a fictional series and plan a delicious meal around it.
“She smiled then, her cheeks red, her cheeks scattered with some kind of dust. It was a smile he thought he might die to earn again.”
― Leigh Bardugo, Crooked Kingdom
Off in Ketterdam, the Barrel's most dangerous couple are about to sit down for tea.
The boy has taken it upon himself to do something special for the girl, not because it's Saint Valentine's Day, but because they’ve both been busy as hell and he wants to spend just a moment with her while they’re not on the job. Before she arrives, he fidgets with his bare hands, cursing himself for handing his gloves off to Wylan just minutes ago. He curses himself again for telling Wylan to run off and hide, because now it would take too long to find him, pry them from his hands, and return before Inej arrived. He inhales deeply. He would keep trying, for her.
The fact that their teatime happened to fall on Saint Valentine’s Day is just a coincidence, of course. He doesn't care for it, and neither does she. But he looks again at his little setup and can already picture the smile on her face.
She appears at the doorway. He exhales.
Happy Valentine's Day, and welcome to our first-ever Book Bites!
Book Bites is a monthly series Shot Me in the Book (Natasha) and I created to celebrate our love of fictional worlds, fictional characters, and real-life noms. Tasha, if you didn't know, is also a talented bookstagrammer in addition to being a book blogger, so if you're looking for pretty pictures of books, check out her Instagram.
For our inaugural post, we chose our favourite couple in Ketterdam. This little afternoon tea is inspired by them: tea for her, coffee for him, bloody lemon cookies, and a dirty, bloody money cake, stuffed with chocolate coins (that curiously look more like Canadian loonies than Ketterdam coinage. But that's just your imagination).
This Book Bites post is us, wishing a happy Valentine's Day to Kaz, Inej, and all the Dregs!
We hope you enjoyed this month's post. If you haven't read the Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo... wow, get on that! It's a fantastic young adult series, with immersive world-building, a lovable gang of smart-ass misfits, and some brilliant, brilliant heists. It's a fun ride all the way through.
If you'd like to throw your own Kanej-inspired tea party, you can find the recipe for the bloody lemon cookies on Shot Me In the Book and the recipe for the dirty money cake right here! Hopefully you're better at decorating cakes than I am, though. As you can see from the photograph, I can't really help you out too much in that department. On the bright side, the cake is delicious and easy to make!
If you were to throw a tea party for your own favourite Six of Crows pairing (romantic or otherwise), who would they be and what would they be eating? Kaz and Inej happen to be our favourites, but if I were to do another, I'd probably pick Jesper's parents.
Hearts & love,
Dirty Money Cake Recipe
For the cake:
1 1/2 cup flour
1.4cup cocoa power
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup flavourless oil (canola or sunflower oil, for example)
1 cup warm water
For the icing:
1 stick of unsalted butter
3 C of icing sugar, or to taste
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
For the decorations:
Food colouring of your choice (should be dark, though)
For the cake:
- Set your oven to 350ºF and line an 8x8 cake pan with parchment paper
- In a small mixing bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. Once fully incorporated, make three small wells with your spatula. Add the vanilla to one well, vinegar to another, and the canola oil to the third. Over everything, pour the warm water.
- Using your spatula, mix everything together with your spatula until fully incorporated and no dry pouches remain.
- Pour into the cake pan and pop it into the oven for 25-30 minutes. If you're wondering if it's done: you should be able to put a thin knife into your cake pan and have it come out dry.
- Rest for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Once cool, cut out your desired shape. I didn't have a large cookie cutter or anything so freehanded something that vaguely looked like a sack of money (but admittedly, like, the kind you see in video games).
- Store the excess pieces of cake away to nibble on later.
For the icing:
- In a stand mixer with a fitted paddle attachment, cream together butter and 1 cup of icing sugar on low speed. Once incorporated, another cup of icing sugar, tablespoon of milk, and vanilla.
- Once fully incorporated, increased the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy. Remember to stop the mixing to taste the icing. Does it need the extra tablespoon of milk? Is it not sweet enough? Add either until you find a level of sweetness you like. I like my icing very sweet, so I sometimes use three cups of icing total. Not exactly recommended, just letting you know that it really is something you should taste along the way. (Also, icing, yum.)
Putting the cake(s) together
- Take your now-cool cake shapes and place them on a cake stand or some kind of flat service that will make decorating easy. Using an icing spatula or a knife (whatever you have on hand), ice your cakes to your liking.
- I feel like now is where I should really let you go because my cake only vaguely looks like a bag of money (and even then, only of the video game variety), I am not a skilled cake decorator, and I have the patience of an angry monkey.
- The step above was not a step, it was a thought, so I'm sorry for that. To decorate your now-iced cake, you could take some leftover icing, mix in some food colouring or your choice, put it in a piping bag, and pipe a dollar sign onto the the surface of the cake. I did not have the time or resources for this, so I just used a toothpick to carve out the dollar sign and used the same toothpick to paint red food colouring into the outlined space, making it look a little bloody. Dirtyhands, bloodymoney, etc. etc.
- I also used a tiny bit of cocoa powder, run through a fine mesh sieve, to make a dusting of "dirt" on the bag.
- Finally, I jammed a bunch of chocolate coins into the "opening" of the bag.
*As always, all words and photographs are my own, except for the Leigh Bardugo quote, obviously. Photo styling is by Natasha Chan of Shot Me in the Book.