30 Apr 2011

Ada's Lot (for 'The Last Warner Woman')

"I ask God for something better than Spanish Town, Jamaica, and he give me this country where I have tilled a hard ground." (p.150)
"Just as every fruit don't name mango, and just as every animal don't name dog, so too the Warner Woman's mouth is not only full of thunder and lightning." (p.116)

This dessert is my interpretation of how Ada sees her lot in life. Initially, I thought I could encapsulate different episodes of her life into layers: Growing up in the leper colony, life with the Revivalists, emigrating to England, time spent on a psychiatric ward. But I soon discovered it was impossible to mould this story told 'crossways' into something so linear. For example, I had intended the base to be the 'hard ground' of Adamine's life in the UK but the ingredients symbolising England (cocoa and tea biscuits) get mixed together with the ones representing her life in Jamaica (almonds and coconut). Since Adamine never had an easy life in either place and her time in England was always overshadowed by the beliefs and traditions she carried with her from Jamacia, I let the combination stand. The cream cheese icing in the middle was inspired by the quote, "I don't eat cheese as a rule, and I never frighten for sugar." (p.167). I chose to use both ingredients even though the character wouldn't to highlight how her wishes are blatantly ignored. The nutmeg infused mango and swirls of chocolate represent the reunion of two very different Warners at the end of the book.

How would you interpret The Last Warner Woman by Kei Miller? All cakes and comments welcome.

Ada's Lot (Nanaimo Bars with Cream Cheese & Mango)
Makes 16-20 squares

For the base:
113g (1/2 cup) butter
5 tbsp cocoa powder
50g (1/4 cup) white sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
170g (2 cups) rich tea biscuits (or arrowroot cookies), crushed
71g (1 cup) unsweetened coconut
61g (1/2 cup) flaked almonds

For the icing:
125g (4oz) cream cheese
57g (1/4 cup) butter
128g (1 cup) icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla

For decorating:
8-10 slices dried mango
1 tsp nutmeg
42g (1.5oz) baking chocolate
1 tbsp butter

Cut mango slices in half, place in a small bowl and toss in the nutmeg. Add 1 tbsp boiling water and give it a stir so all the slices get wet. Set aside.

Lightly grease a 9 x 9 inch pan. To make the base, combine butter, cocoa, sugar, slightly beaten eggs and vanilla in a double boiler and cook for 8-10min stirring occasionally. Remove from double boiler and add crushed buscuits, coconut and almonds. Stir until well combined (If it's a little dry, add 1tbsp vegetable oil) and press into the bottom of your pan. Place in fridge until cool.

Mix together cream cheese, butter, icing sugar and vanilla and spread over the cooled base. Put back in fridge for at least half an hour to set.

Cut the base into 16-20 into squares and top each one with a slice of mango. Melt butter and chocolate either in a double boiler or in the microwave and drizzle over the top in random swirls.

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