In A touch of moonlight By Yaffa S. Santos, Larimar Cintrón is a successful 34-year-old brand manager at a growing chain of bakeries in New York City. She’s also a devoted Dominican daughter who lives in the same building as her parents, a punk fanatic, avid foodie…and a magical being known as a ciguapa. Larimar appears human most of the time, until the full moon rises. After her her curls go straight, covering her body with a mantle of braids, up to her inverted feet. Too fast for the human eye to see, he runs heels first through the night. But his identity as a ciguapa is just one of the secrets Larimar keeps from Ray, a sweet and gentlemanly owner of a local bakery that is as delicious as his cakes, and just as irresistible. Surely dating a ciguapa is unimaginable, but Larimar’s second secret, much more human, may be the unforgivable one.
Punctuated with actual recipes for some of the treats Larimar and a cast of affectionately nosy friends and family enjoy throughout this book, A touch of moonlight it is a romance rooted in a search for belonging and self-acceptance. Although Larimar is not the only ciguapa in the family, to find her place in her world, she has to look deeper within herself and her story: “The ciguapas had brought her home. […] This knowledge was an invigorating tonic for his spirit. He gave it roots, and it needed roots to fly.
It’s only fitting that this book borrows from some of the rich spices and flavors found in the variety of delectable cakes and baked goods described in this novel, including alcoholic cupcakes: Black Spiced Rum pays homage to cupcakes. rum-infused with chocolate espresso, pumpkin-spiced rum cupcakes, plus rum on the rocks on Christmas Eve, and last but not least, the rum-soaked macarons served on a very special occasion. Meanwhile, mamajuana honey inspired the honey, chamomile and ginger syrup that defines this drink. Chamomile can be found in the Chamomile Lemon Cupcakes with Honey Buttercream, while best friend Brynn mixes ginger into her hot toddy and Borrachitos uses ginger in the bakery’s Dominican hot chocolate-inspired cupcakes. Ginger also makes an appearance in the Bourbon Spice Naked Cake with Edible Larimar Blossoms. Finally, the frozen coconut water references Ray’s coconetes and Larimar-inspired cupcakes, and the coconut Sweet Rice Cakes.
A deceptively simple but strong cocktail, for a woman for whom “alcohol was like water”, with notes of coffee and spices, the sweetness of the rum and syrup balanced well by the neutralizing frozen coconut water. The booktail is rendered on a liquid mirror base for ciguapas’ fondness for water, while the two-tone background that shimmers with the day/night glow of a city symbolizes the human and otherworldly aspects of Larimar. A white moon crosses either side, suspended above the drink, reflected in the ridged sphere of coconut ice in the glass. The glass is garnished with a candied hibiscus flower, a rare and wild-looking delight.
A touch of moonlight
- 2 oz spiced dark rum
- 1 oz honey, chamomile and ginger syrup (see recipe)
- coconut water ice cream
First, freeze the coconut water in an ice mold of your choice, preferably a large square, sphere, or diamond shape. Meanwhile, prepare the syrup. Once chilled, add to a mixing glass half filled with ice, along with the rum. Stir until well chilled, then strain into a highball glass. Add the coconut ice.
Honey, chamomile and ginger syrup
- 1 1/2 cups of water
- 3/4 cup honey
- 4 chamomile tea bags
- About 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- Combine honey, ginger, and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Bring to a gentle boil, then lower the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from the heat and add the tea bags to the pot.
- Let steep until cool, then discard the tea and ginger. Store in a glass bottle or jar and keep refrigerated.