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I have long been fascinated by King Arthur and the legends surrounding him, from Tennyson's Idylls of the King to T.H. White's The Once and Future King (to Disney's The Sword in the Stone, remember that?)
Some of the most famous Arthurian tales came from a poet called Chrétien de Troyes who lived in the 12th century, but these aren't necessarily on today's high school reading lists. It seems that while King Arthur and his knights of the round table are arguably the coolest bunch of not-quite-historical heroes around, it can be difficult to get today's middle grade crowd into reading Arthurian romances by long-dead Frenchmen (I wonder why).

Enter: M.T. Anderson and Andrea Offermann. These two talented individuals have taken one of Chrétien de Troyes' tales of adventure, love, murder, trickery, daring rescues, and frankly odd weather, and turned it into an accessible and exciting graphic novel.

The story follows a young knight of the Round Table, Yvain, who goes off in search of adventure in the forest of Broceliande. After killing a local lord in a fight, Yvain falls desperately in love with the lord's bereaved widow, Laudine, even as she is weeping over her husband's dead body (I know, right?). He decides he must have her. After being sort of tricked into it, Laudine marries Yvain who then decides to leave her for more adventures. She makes him promise to be gone no longer than a year. Of course, he is gone longer, and Laudine sends a messenger to disown him and tell him not to bother returning ever. He then goes a little mad with grief, but after a while becomes a knight errant, wandering the land in search of people who need his knightly services. After a series of adventures (dragons, giants, monsters, etc.) and good deeds (mostly saving fair maidens), he returns to Laudine who once again is tricked and forced to "forgive" him and accept him back. And they all live happily ever after?

At the core Yvain: The Knight of the Lion is still Chrétien de Troyes' original story (in all it's slightly disturbing details) but the gorgeous illustrations and updated dialogue give it new life.

Though the core has been kept, M.T. Anderson has managed to bring a new perspective to the story, especially to the characters of the ladies, who definitely get the short end of the stick. In this version of the story you are left knowing that Yvain doesn't quite get away with jilting his wife. I loved that Laudine's anger and unhappiness is clearly shown, even in the end.

How lovely is this art?
When deciding what dessert would pair well with this graphic novel, I was inspired by the beautiful flow and swirl of the art on the cover. So, I made my cookies to match. I used this Chewy Marble Sugar Cookie recipe by Food52 to create some flows and swirls of my own.

Some of my own thoughts and methods are included here along with most of the original recipe's directions.

  • 2 ounces dark chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder 
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190C). Line 2 large sheet pans with parchment paper.
Melt the chocolate and allow to cool slightly (I find the microwave is the easiest and least-messy way of melting chocolate). Stir the espresso powder into the chocolate.

You know any recipe that starts with melting chocolate is going to be good.
Skull-headed spoon adds character. If you don't have one, I suppose it will taste okay without...

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars together. Make sure you stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl regularly throughout the recipe so that all ingredients are incorporating evenly. Add vanilla and egg yolks. Beat for 1 minute. Mix flour, salt and baking soda together separately, then add to the mixing bowl. Beat until everything is well mixed.

Action shot!

Make a well in the middle of dough and pour in the melted chocolate.


Gently fold the dough over the chocolate several times with a spatula or knife until it starts to look marbled. Don't overdo it or it'll be too mixed to look marbley (a technical word).

If you have a cookie scoop, use that to scoop out evenly sized balls of dough, or just use a couple teaspoons to shape balls about an inch in diameter. Place on the cookies sheets about 1.5 inches apart. Don't press the balls down, they'll flatten out in the oven. 

The recipe says to bake for 8 - 10 minutes, but I found I had to bake for about 15 minutes because of how big I made them. Ovens will vary, so start checking on your cookies at around 8 minutes.  

May have made them a little too big?

Swirly whirly goodness
Now it's your turn.


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