In Love with New York

Crossposted from Silk & Shadows

Currently working on: Laundry
Mood: Squeaky clean

I’m posting a bit late since I just returned from a week in New York City. I was attending a published author conference and had SO MUCH FUN!… I mean, it was sooooo much work. (Just in case my XY is reading this.)

Jessa-Slade_New-York-City-Times-Square

Our conference hotel was the Millennium Broadway just off Times Square. I feel like I am not a complete rube, but in New York, I am definitely a country mouse. So many people in such a compact space — there are actual pedestrian traffic jams — make me just a little crazy. But the energy is undeniable. Or maybe that’s all the power pulsing through the light bulbs on Times Square.

Jessa-Slade_Barnes-and-Noble

Since DARKNESS UNDONE officially released last Tuesday, I did a stock

signing tour of every bookstore in Manhattan I could find that carried a copy of the book. If you live in the New York area, you can find signed copies of DARKNESS UNDONE at almost all the Barnes & Nobles. You’ll find me lurking in the vicinity of Nalini Singh and Gena Showalter.

Jessa-Slade_Posman-Books

My roommate, historical authorDelilah Marvelle and I hiked all over NYC. I Google Pedometered our route afterward; we hiked 8.5 MILES! Truly pounding pavement. But the sore feet were well worth it starting off with breakfast with fabulous bookseller, Stacey ofPosman Books. Not only does the store have a glorious romance section, it is located in Grand Central Station. How cool is that?

Jessa-Slade_Posman-Books-wall

I also had the chance to meet Carla from Book Monster Reviews who along with book friend Karina joined me, Laurie London and Erin Kellison for a beautiful spring day in Bryant Park.

Jessa-Slade_cupcakes

We sat for a couple hours, talking about books and eating Crumbs Bake Shopcupcakes. I think that might qualify as a little slice of heaven. Although the black bottom cheesecake brownie cupcake contains over a thousand calories (according to the placard at the shop) I felt entirely justified because of the aforementioned 8.5 MILES.

Jessa-Slade_library-quoteFrom the New York Central Library, a quote  from John Milton:

A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.

I’m sure he would have added friends and cupcakes too, had he thought about it.

I brought back some goodies to share (no cupcakes though) and am doing a giveaway through my newsletter. Sign up here.

Ah, New York, I miss you already.

Happy 4th of July!

Crossposted from Silk & Shadows

Currently working on: My tan
Mood: Summery!

Summer doesn’t officially arrived in the Portland area until the first week of July, but it’s here now! I’m typing this outside, sitting in the shade, actually, because it’s finally warm 🙂 The raspberry bushes are kickin’ out the berries so of course I had to use them in a holiday dessert.

Happy Fourth of July! (For those in the U.S.) Happy Summer! (For those in the Northern Hemisphere.) Happy Monday! (For pretty much everybody, I think.)

july-cupcakes

Red, White & Blue Cupcakes

Start with a box cake mix. I’m sure there are times when baking from scratch is called for. Mixing up festive cupcakes for people who will be drinking beer all day is not one of those times. I’ve enthused before about the Cake Mix Doctor‘s cookbooks. I recommend the chocolate cake mix cookbook and choosing one of the recipes with pudding in the mix as well as sour cream/yogurt for extra scrumptiousness.

The fun of cake mix doctoring is the doctoring part anyway. For these, I injected the cupcakes with a raspberry/strawberry coulis and then made a barrier wall of buttercream frosting around the top of the cupcakes and backfilled the interior with the coulis.

Berry Coulis

  • 1 cup of raspberries
  • 1 cup of strawberries (or whatever berries you have)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 4 Tablespoons)

Mix all ingredients the day before to let the flavors blend if you have time, then blender/food processor it all together into berry soup. Sample repeatedly over vanilla ice cream, because you’re the cook, and cooks deserve to sample. (Some people take out the seeds, but the beer drinkers won’t notice such niceties so I don’t bother.)

While the cupcakes are still warm from the oven, make a hole in the centers with a chopstick or similar implement. I used a cookie gun/cake decorator to aim the coulis into the hole, but you can just spoon it in too, as long as you have decent aim.

Let the cupcakes cool. Sample a few just to make sure there’s enough coulis in the middle.

Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 stick of butter (room temp)
  • 1 8-oz package of cream cheese (room temp)
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 2-4 cups of sifted confectioner’s sugar (the recipe calls for 3 3/4 cups of sugar with more for spreadability, but I think you lose some of the cream cheese flavor to the sweetness if you use all the sugar. So I just add enough sugar to make enough to cover the cupcakes. Plus, the less sugar/slightly thicker frosting works well in the cookie gun/cake decorator.)

Make a monk’s tonsure/barrier wall in a circle around the cupcakes’ tops. Usually I am a “more frosting is better” gal, but this ratio works out nicely with the strong mouth feel of the buttercream. Plus, the barrier wall gives you room to spread more of the pretty red berry coulis.

To thicken the coulis for the top of the cupcake, mix corn starch with just enough water to make a thin paste. Gently warm the leftover coulis and add the starch/water mixture until the coulis thickens enough to stay on top of the cupcake.

Spoon the thickened coulis behind the barrier wall, top with a berry (I might have used a blueberry instead of a raspberry, but I don’t share my blueberries with anybody), add a light dusting of blue decorator sugar, and eat.

Happy Cupcakes!