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Mr. Quin, Mr. Harley Quin, is a character of a particularly elusive nature, fashioned after one the most famous buffoons of the equally famous Italian theater popularized in the 16th century, La Commedia dell'Arte. Known for its improvisational slapstick and motley stock characters, this entertainment style was also all the rage in England, where the clown, Arlecchino, evolved into Harlequin, something of a romantic hero, fancied by Christie as "....a figure invisible except when he chose, not quite human, yet concerned with the affairs of human beings and particularly of lovers. He is also the advocate for the dead."
Mr. Quin, however a shadowy figure, is a subconscious catalyst of sorts for the true protagonist of the stories, the rather nondescript Mr. Satterthwaite, a man of advanced middle age whose own life lacks color and excitement. It is through Mr. Quin's vaporizing manifestations into and out of quasi-human flesh, which are sometimes seen by others, that provoke Mr. Satterthwaite into an agent who is critical to the resolution of crises in the circles of the very upper classes of English society where he feels himself most keenly as a humble observer.
In the story The World's End, Mr. Satterthwaite accompanies a feckless and supercilious duchess from the Riviera to Corsica, unbeknownst to him that he will engage in a drama which spares the life of a young, bitter artist betrothed to a jewel thief. As a picnic expedition to the very edges of a cliff reveals the flibbertigibbet nature of a fickle actress with a weakness for peppermint cremes, so it is also revealed that a secret compartment hides a glittering truth as magical as Mr. Quin's ghostly appearances and departures.
Christie cites The World's End as one of the scant favorites in this scant collection of stories. It is one of my favorites, too, for at the cliff's edge is the sea, where "....The road stopped....this was the end, the back of beyond, the beginning of nowhere. Behind them the white ribbon of road, in front of them – nothing...."
But as Mr. Satterthwaite says, “ It's an extraordinary place. One feels that anything might happen here...."
White Chocolate Peppermint Truffle Cups - From the About.com: Candy recipe
The only deviation I have made is replacing the semi-sweet chocolate with white chocolate. I have used a high-quality, cocoa butter-based white chocolate rather than white chocolate melts which contain milk powder and fat, such as palm kernel oil. These treats are very, very delicate and benefit from spending time in the freezer - do consider that they are the very soft centers of the typical truffles you enjoy with crusts of dipped chocolate or powdered sugars. Tiny, demi-tasse spoons would be charming tools for enjoying every last dollop of decadence.
This post was written for Simona of Briciole and Lisa of Champaign Taste, who created and host Novel Food, the quarterly food-blogging event dedicated to celebrating what is eaten and imbibed among the pages of the literature we love to indulge in.
I am also sending this off to Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen, hosting Sugar High Fridays - Bite Size Desserts. Sugar High Fridays was created by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess and is still enjoying popularity after several years.
(* This link is purely for descriptive purposes. I do not have any business relationship with Amazon.)