Bready or Not Guest: CASSANDRA COMPLEX author Wendy Nikel with Chocolate Blueberry Cupcakes

Posted by on May 7, 2019 in Blog, blueberry, Bready or Not, chocolate, guest recipe | 0 comments

I’m happy to welcome back author Wendy Nikel for the release of the 3rd book in her time-traveling novella series with World Weaver Press. The Cassandra Complex is out TODAY. Be sure to print out her previous recipes for Continuum Coffee Cupcakes and Grandmother Paradox Cherry Cupcakes.

The third book in my Place in Time novella series, THE CASSANDRA COMPLEX, is now out into the world, which means it is once again time to make some celebration cupcakes!

My original plan was to use one of the original Harvey Girls recipes, which have been collected online by Stephen Fried in the Harvey Girls Cookbook Project. The Harvey Girls were waitresses who worked at one of the “eating houses” (and later dining cars) of Fred Harvey, a restaurant pioneer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His goal was to serve good food to people traveling west on the new railroad lines, and he was very successful in doing so, thanks in part to the thousands of women who came out west to serve his food – including the protagonist of my story, Cass.

I soon found out, though, that in trying to bake from a classic recipe like this one for Homemade Blueberry Cake, I was biting off a bit more than I could chew. Even after doing all the math to figure out how much 5 ounces of sugar is in tablespoons and how much 1 gill of milk is, my dough didn’t rise as it was supposed to, and I ended up with a sticky mess.

It was time for Plan B. I pulled out a tried-and-true cupcake recipe, made some tweaks, and created a chocolate cupcake, topped with blueberry frosting and fresh chocolate-covered blueberries for my own version of a blueberry cake.

I started by melting down some chocolate chips with a tiny bit of coconut oil. I created my garnishes by dropping a nickel-sized dot of chocolate on waxed paper, then stacking five blueberries together and sprinkling with sea salt before throwing them in the freezer. These are some of my favorite snack treats, so I made a couple extra.

After that, I started on the cupcakes, mixing the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, and baking powder) in one bowl and the wet ingredients (sugar, butter, and eggs) in another before combining them together, along with some milk. These then went in cupcake trays with a couple chocolate chips on top, and went into the oven for 16 minutes at 350 degrees.

While those were cooling, I made up my blueberry frosting. I started by blending a cup of butter until it was smooth and then alternated adding powdered sugar and blueberry pie filling until I had the consistency I wanted. I loved the color the blueberries turned the frosting – a perfect match for my new book!

Then, it was time for my favorite part: decorating! I added two kinds of sprinkles to the top.

And, for the final touch, I pulled my frozen chocolate-covered blueberries out of the oven and plopped them on top. And there you have it: a tasty treat for an afternoon of train riding, reading, or traveling through time.

 


About The Cassandra Complex:

Cass is a 22nd century university student who – like most young adults – has always believed her parents were a bit stuck in the past. But on her eighteenth birthday she learns exactly how true this is: not only are her parents time travelers, living in an era different than either was born in, but now, to ensure that history plays out as it’s supposed to, she must travel to the year 1914 to live out her adult life.

Cass isn’t the type, though, to just sit back and watch while all the tragic events she’s learned about in her history courses play out in front of her. Not when she’s the only one in the world with the foreknowledge – and determination – to change it.

 

The Cassandra Complex: Amazon Barnes & Noble | iTunes/Apple Books | World Weaver Press

 

About the author:

Wendy Nikel is a speculative fiction author with a degree in elementary education, a fondness for road trips, and a terrible habit of forgetting where she’s left her cup of tea. Her short fiction has been published by Analog, Nature: FuturesPodcastle, and elsewhere. Her time travel novella series, beginning with The Continuum, is available from World Weaver Press. For more info, visit wendynikel.com

THE CASSANDRA COMPLEX Chocolate Blueberry Cupcakes by Wendy Nikel

A chocolate cupcake with blueberry buttercream frosting, inspired by THE CASSANDRA COMPLEX by Wendy Nikel

  • Cupcakes:
  • 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • Chocolate chips
  • Frosting:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons blueberry pie filling
  • Topping:
  • Blueberries
  • Melted chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift together flour, cocoa, and baking powder.

In separate bowl, blend sugar and butter.

Add eggs to sugar mixture one at a time.

Gradually add the dry mixture and milk into the sugar mixture until well blended.

Fill cupcake liners half full, add a few chocolate chips on the top, and bake for 15-17 minutes. Let cool.

Melt chocolate chips and make nickel-sized dots on waxed paper. Create a pyramid of blueberries on each dot, with 4 berries on the bottom and 1 on the top. Drizzle melted chocolate over them, sprinkle with sea salt, and freeze.

Beat butter until creamy. Alternate adding 1c powdered sugar and 2T pie filling, mixing well after each addition, until all ingredients are mixed in.

After cupcakes are cool, frost and top with frozen blueberries and sprinkles. Enjoy with a good book!

Read More

Book Blog: The Library of Ever by Zeno Alexander

Posted by on May 3, 2019 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

The Library of Ever by Zeno Alexander
out now; Indiebound, B&N, and Amazon

Library of Ever

Oh my goodness, I adored The Library of Ever. This book is everything a cozy middle grade book should be. I wish I could go back in time and press it into the hands of my ten-year-old self with a conspiratorial wink.

Lenora is ignored by her wealthy parents and her nanny, but this comes in useful sometimes–like at the library. She makes her escape to the children’s section where she confronts a man in a bowler hat who is trying to tell a young boy that books on science are too advanced for him. After seeing the boy get to the books he wants, a fantastic archway appears in what had been a blank wall. She walks through, and finds the Library of Ever.

I envisioned her adventures in the library like a Hiyao Miyazaki anime. Everything is fantastical and weird, yet within this world, absolutely believable. Lenora is quickly dubbed a library worker of low rank, bestowed a badge and everything, and happily goes to work. As she helps patrons–jumping ahead in time to resolve a calendar issue, wandering a massive globe and befriending whales and penguins (and finding out some purported facts about the longest town name and highest mountain aren’t true)–her rank advances, as do her responsibilities.

While the book is sure fun, there’s also a powerful message behind everything about the dangers of censorship and the power of knowledge. The men in bowler hats are a threatening force. As Lenora is scolded at one point, “I thought you were wise enough to understand that children must be discouraged from asking questions that will make them curious and fretful. Perhaps I overestimated you. After all, you’re just a child yourself.”

“Maybe,” said Lenora, with equal frost. “But I’m also a librarian. And I’m not going to hide the truth from anyone.”

Just typing that up again gives me chills. This book is powerful. It’s charming. It’s an inspiration. Plus, it’s hilarious. Sure, there’s a message, but it’s wrapped up in whimsy and joy. This would be a great book to read aloud to a group or class. I found it to be a fast read, too; I zoomed through in about 45 minutes.

Read More

Bready or Not Original: Caramel Apple Chip Blondies

Posted by on May 1, 2019 in apples, Blog, blondies, Bready or Not, chocolate, cookies | 0 comments

Caramel Apple Chip Blondies! This recipe is what happens for you buy a big bag of apple chips at Costco and your kid doesn’t like them.

Bready or Not Original: Caramel Apple Chip Blondies

Apple chips are pretty expensive at the grocery store, so buying them at a big membership club is a great way to get them. They are seriously delicious, crisp like potato chips but made of pure apples.

Bready or Not Original: Caramel Apple Chip Blondies

When baking with apple chips, break them into small pieces. They will soften up as they bake, taking on a raisin-like chewy texture with loads of apple flavor. Larger pieces will be even chewier, though, and get caught on the knife when slicing.

Bready or Not Original: Caramel Apple Chip Blondies

The chips are easy to break up. You can do it with your fingers or throw them into a sealed sandwich bag and smash them with a rolling pin of the bottom of a heavy glass.

Bready or Not Original: Caramel Apple Chip Blondies

In the end, these blondies are sweet and chewy with a mild but very present apple flavor throughout that’s complemented nicely by the caramel and white chocolate chips.

Bready or Not Original: Caramel Apple Chip Blondies

 

Bready or Not Original: Caramel Apple Chip Blondies

Bready or Not Original: Caramel Apple Chip Blondies

Apple chips are crisp like potato chips. For this recipe, break them small, to the size of raisins. Otherwise, larger pieces stay chewier and will be more likely to catch on the knife when the bars are sliced.

  • 2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 cubes), room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup caramel chips
  • 1 1/2 cup crumbled apple chips (Bare Brand recommended)

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and apply nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix butter and sugars together until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients. Stir in the white chocolate and caramel chips followed by the apple chips.

Pour blondie dough into the prepared pan and smooth out with uneven spatula.

Bake for 28 to 30 minutes or until the top of the blondies are light golden brown and the middle passes the toothpick test. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Once they are cool, use foil to lift blondies onto cutting board to slice into bars.

OM NOM NOM!

 

Bready or Not Original: Caramel Apple Chip Blondies

Read More

Bready or Not: Cheesecake Brownies

Posted by on Apr 24, 2019 in Blog, Bready or Not, brownies, cheese galore, chocolate | 2 comments

Cheesecake Brownies. Beautiful to behold. Delicious to eat.

Bready or Not: Cheesecake Brownies

I’m not a cheesecake person. But the pairing of chocolate and cheesecake? That makes it work.

Bready or Not: Cheesecake Brownies

This recipe is all about that balance of different kinds of sweetness. The addition of semisweet chocolate chips complements both and adds a different texture, too.

Bready or Not: Cheesecake Brownies

I have to say, I love the swirl effect on the top of these brownies. There’s something especially pleasing about food that looks as amazing as it tastes.

Bready or Not: Cheesecake Brownies

If you want a similar, stronger (and more expensive) pairing, my Swirled Goat Cheese Brownies will also interest you.

Bready or Not: Cheesecake Brownies

Modified from All Recipes Magazines, November 2017.

 

Bready or Not: Cheesecake Brownies

Bready or Not: Cheesecake Brownies

This take on a classic pairs brownies with rich cream cheese. The semisweet chocolate chips throughout complement in a delicious way.

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/4 cup (half cube) unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven at 350-degrees. Line an 8x8 or 9x9 pan with heavy foil and apply butter or nonstick spray.

Beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 egg until fairly smooth; some small chunks are fine. Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips.

In a microwave safe bowl, heat the butter and remaining 1 cup chocolate chips in brief bursts until fully melted and smooth; watch it carefully and stir well between each burst. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, followed by the 2 eggs, flour, baking powder, and salt.

Pour half the chocolate batter into the ready pan and spread into an even layer. Gently spread the cream cheese batter on top. Drop dollops of the rest of the chocolate batter on top. Use a butter knife or narrow spatula to swirl the layers together for a marbled effect.

Bake until the top is crinkled and edges are pulling away from the sides of the pan, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool at room temperature for an hour, then stash in the fridge for another few hours to completely cool.

Use the foil to lift the contents onto a cutting board to slice into bars. Store in a sealed container in fridge, waxed paper between stacked layers to prevent stocking, for up to three days, or freeze for later enjoyment.

OM NOM NOM!

Read More