In Which My Sacrifice to the Cover Gods Pays off and I Bake Cookies

It has been a crazy busy month, hence the lack of posts, but in case you missed it, Bustle revealed the cover of Ash Princess!

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Covers are one of many things in publishing that authors have very, very little control over. In my case, I had a few conversations with my editor about the feel of the book and other covers we both loved, but then one day early in the year, she sent me a gorgeous cover design that was actually very close to the finished project.

It was so beautiful I couldn’t stop showing it to people–baristas, mailmen, even strangers on the street. I loved it so much.

And then Delacorte somehow made it even better.

A little background on the crown: in the book, Theo–the main character–is held captive in her own court by the people who invaded her country. She’s degradingly referred to as the Ash Princess and forced to wear a crown made of ashes to any public events that disintegrates over the course of the night.

It’s a central image in the book and I had my fingers crossed that it would make its way onto the cover, but I was unprepared for how phenomenally Delacorte would interpret it.

Seriously, I want to get it framed and hang it on my wall.

I also visited the Delacorte/Random House offices last week and the cover had inspired me to bring along a little surprise treat.

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Yes, those are Ash Princess Crown cookies! They’re made from a coffee sugar cookie base with cinnamon and topped with a honey glaze dyed black and sprinkled with red sugar crystals. In the book, the characters drink coffee with honey and cinnamon, so I wanted to represent those flavors in the cookies as well.

I’ve gotten some requests for the recipe, so here it is!

I adapted it from this recipe here and added a little extra cinnamon and the honey glaze.

You’ll need:

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

2 tablespoons fresh ground coffee (can be decaf if, like me, you were baking with kids)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

For the glaze:

Powdered sugar

Milk

Honey

(No measurements for this, unfortunately, because I just eyeballed it. You’ll want to experiment to get the consistency right–too thick and it’ll never dry and swallow the sprinkles, too thin and it’ll slide right off the cookie)

Optional decoration: black food coloring, red sugar crystals.

The next bit I’m pasting directly from the above-mentioned website:

  1. In a mixer, cream together butter and sugar.
  2. In a small bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, and coffee until fully incorporated.
  3. In separate bowl add together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. Slowly add your egg mixture to the butter mixture until well combined. Slowly add flour mixture until fully combined, do not over beat.
  5. I would chill this dough for AT LEAST one hour, preferably overnight.
  6. When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until edges are slightly golden. Allow cookies to cool completely before covering in any icing.

While the cookies are cooling, you can mix the icing. I have no exact instructions here except to say to start small and dry–you can always add more ingredients and milk, but you can’t take them out. You want it to not be watery, but thin enough that it spreads easily. If you want to add a bit of dye, you can do that now. Remember: this isn’t an icing, it’s a glaze so it should sit flat on top of the cookie.

Once the cookies cool, spread the icing (you can use a fancy brush if you have one, but I just used the back of a spoon) and IMMEDIATELY add the sugar crystals/sprinkles.

And the last and most important step: enjoy.

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