Food and Fandom: The Wrath & the Dawn

Otherwise known as “Ms. Mari and the Search for Quince Chutney.” Which, by the way, is much harder than it looks. Apparently quince is not a fruit one will usually find in the U.S. of A, so I got puzzled looks at the local Indian mart and the local supermarket and farmer’s market and the kosher market (which seemed to have “Turkish dip” but that TELLS ME NOTHING). The Indian market carried every other chutney EXCEPT quince. I imagine that it’s sort of like an apple (or pear), so at some point maybe I’ll make an apple chutney as a substitute. Sigh.

However, this post is clearly not about quince chutney or any variation of chutney. It’s about what I tend to do best, and that’s bake stuff. Occasionally when I’m inspired by foods I come across in books.

Which, in this particular case, is pulled out of The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh.

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I could probably talk nonstop about this book (and its sequel), but I will just point out one of the aspects I love about it: it mentions food. Renee Ahdieh pretty much admitted to her being a big foodie during her author signing, and it’s no wonder, with some of the scrumptious stuff she mentions in the book.

Her lips were hers one moment. And then they were his. The taste of him on her tongue was like sun-warmed honey. Like cool water sliding down her parched throat. Like the promise of all her tomorrows in a single sigh.

I mean…uh, WHAT? I totally didn’t just add that quote because it’s beautiful and lovely and squeeful. It talks about food, I swear! But I mean, COME ON. Isn’t that PRETTY?

Alright, I’m breathing now. It’s all good.

They marched in unison until they arrived before the dais, setting plates of food in front of each guest–aromatic rice with fresh dill and split fava beans, lamb simmered in a sauce of turmeric and caramelized onions, skewers of chicken and roasted tomatoes, fresh vegetables garnished with mint and chopped parsley, olives marinated in fine oil, lavash bread with rounds of goat cheese and seemingly endless sweet preserves…

Shahrzad had never seen so much food.

Seriously, I think my mouth watered at that point in the book. I might actually do a few of these at some point, too.

But I’m more talking about this particular quote:

She lifted the lid from the tray and began eating some jewel rice and saffron chicken. In between bites of fresh herbs and cool yogurt, she drank tea and nibbled on pistachio cakes sweetened with honey.

Pistachio cake? Honey? Now that. That sounds like something I could do–and find ingredients for easily enough.

Shazi pretty much stuffs her face in this scene, because she’s a little mad with one particular caliph. But don’t worry. Hijinks follow soon after. Because one cannot be mad at Khalid forever. Hee.

Pistachio and Almond Cake with Butterscotch Honey Glaze

So I may have improvised this recipe. I found a pistachio cake recipe that seemed simple enough, though I had a bit of a disagreement with the ingredients, so I heavily altered the recipe and er…improvised. The honey butterscotch glaze recipe was pretty much as is, except I didn’t have heavy cream so had to use milk and a little more butter so that it wasn’t too liquidy. Oh, and I didn’t use sanding sugar.

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp ground pistachios
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds

For the Honey Glaze topping:

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (or brown if you want more of a caramel honey flavor)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp ground pistachios
  • sliced almonds for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).

Using a mixer, mix butter and sugar. Add eggs in one at a time. Slowly add flour and mix until well distributed. Fold in the pistachios and almonds using a spatula.

Fill a 9-inch round cake pan with the cake mixture. Bake for 40-50 minutes (mine baked just fine at 40).

Let cool and do the topping.

Simmer sugar and honey until mixture turns dark. Stir with a wooden spoon and slowly add in the butter and milk. Let cool completely before pouring on cake.

Sprinkle the ground pistachios. Garnish with almonds if you’d like.

Verdict: Oh my goodness. I don’t know why I never did this recipe before. It’s delicious and is a perfect marriage of nuts, cake, and honey. Much like Shazi and Khalid. YEAH, I WENT THERE.

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7 thoughts on “Food and Fandom: The Wrath & the Dawn

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