Showing posts with label Heather Blake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Heather Blake. Show all posts

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Darcy Merriweather’s Peppermint Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies -- Guest Heather Blake

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Welcome to our guest, Heather Blake, joining us to celebrate the May 3 release of GONE WITH THE WITCH, the sixth book in her Wishcraft Mysteries!

One of my favorite flavor combinations is chocolate and peppermint. So much so, that I keep a year-round not-so-secret stash of Ghirardelli peppermint bark for those days when I need a little something to calm my nerves. Lovable witch Darcy Merriweather, the main character in my Wishcraft mysteries, shares a similar trait of turning to chocolate and peppermint when anxiety hits, though her stash consists of York Peppermint Patties, which she prefers frozen.

In honor of our love for chocolate-peppermint combinations, I came up with this cookie recipe to share with all of you. These cookies are cakelike, moist and dense. Leave as is when pulled from the oven or drizzle with a mint-chocolate ganache on top for an extra bit of gooey goodness. These are great with a cup of coffee, tea, or tall glass of milk.

What’s your favorite go-to stress food? Leave a comment by midnight, Monday, May 9, and you could win a signed copy of IT TAKES A WITCH, the first book in the Wishcraft series.

Darcy Merriweather’s Peppermint Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 stick of unsalted butter, softened
1/2  c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 tsp. pure peppermint extract
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c. semisweet mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325°F.

In a bowl, cream together butter and sugars until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, then add the extract. 

In a separate bowl, sift (or whisk if you don’t have a sifter) together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cocoa powder. 

Gradually add dry ingredients to wet mixture. Mix well. The dough will be thick. 

Fold in chocolate chips. 

Set mixture in freezer for ten minutes to firm up. 

Once firm, roll the dough into balls (I used two spoons to shape the dough), and place a couple of inches apart onto an ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheet. 

Bake for 11-13 minutes. 

Let set for a few minutes before moving to a cookie rack to finish cooling. 

Once cool, drizzle or glaze with chocolate-mint ganache (optional).

Makes 18 cookies

Chocolate-mint ganache

2 oz. semisweet chocolate
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2-3 drops of peppermint extract (a little goes a long way).

In a double boiler (I use a glass bowl nestled over a simmering pan of water), melt chocolate and butter. Remove from heat, add extract, stir. Let cool. Drizzle over cooled cookies.

Heather Blake (aka Heather Webber) is the author of more than twenty novels and has been twice nominated for an Agatha Award. She's a total homebody who loves to be close to her family, read, watch reality TV (especially cooking competition shows), drink too much coffee, crochet, and bake cookies. Heather grew up in a suburb of Boston, but currently she lives in the Cincinnati area with her family.

Visit her website, or connect with her on 
Facebook or Twitter, @booksbyheather

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Baking with Betty

A very warm welcome to our friend, Heather Blake. I first met Heather at Malice Domestic, but she's such a sweetheart that in minutes, I felt like we had been friends forever. Heather has a new series coming out, the Magic Potion Mysteries! Isn't this cover beautiful? Makes me want to curl up with a cup of tea, a little apple crisp, and read.

And now, here's Heather!

It was almost exactly twenty-three years ago to the day that I received a Betty Crocker cookbook as a wedding gift (Happy Anniversary, Mr W!). Over the years Betty and I have been through a lot. Most of the pages in my cookbook are stained from various recipe experiments. Some of the pages are torn. The cookbook has been at my side for endless stacks of pancakes. Many loaves of banana bread. One particularly disastrous quiche. I love that cookbook. When I started eating gluten free, I couldn’t just let Betty sit on the shelf, gathering dust. Instead, we adapted. Betty’s recipes, my tweaks. It works for us.

With leaves falling and a nip in the air, I’ve been craving apple pie like no one’s business. I’ve come a long way with my gluten free diet, but tackling pie crust is still a bit out of my league, so I turned to my next favorite apple recipe: apple crisp. It’s so good that I don’t miss the pie at all (and I’m not just saying that because I don’t want to make the crust!).

Gluten Free Apple Crisp ala Betty and Heather

First you need some apples. How pretty are these guys?
Betty says to use four. I used six. I’m a rebel like that. Peel them, slice them, and layer them in a greased dish. I use a 9x9 glass pan, but you can also use a pretty pie dish. I top mine with a little orange juice – don’t tell Betty, okay? I’m not sure she’d approve.

In a big bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. Flour (I use King Arthur’s gluten free), oatmeal (I use Bob Red Mill’s GF Quick Cooking Oats), brown sugar, sugar (Betty doesn’t use this, but again, I’m a rebel), softened butter, cinnamon (I use more than Betty—seriously, can you have too much cinnamon?), nutmeg, salt (not in Betty’s recipe, but I think just about everything tastes a little better with salt).

Once you mix all deliciousness together, it will look like this little bit of heaven.

Spread it atop the apples, then put the dish into a 375˚ oven.

It’s ready for the baking:

You’re going to have to trust me on how amazing this smells while it’s cooking. The butter, the brown sugar, the apples... It’s absolutely mouth-watering.

After 30 minutes, the apples are tender and bubbling in their juices, and the topping is a beautiful golden brown.

All that’s left is to dish it out and add big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Betty and I hope you enjoy. (And if you happen to be reading A POTION TO DIE FOR, my new release, while eating this wonderful treat, I swear it makes it taste even better. Betty swears, too.)

Gluten Free Apple Crisp ala Betty and Heather

6 apples, peeled and sliced* (I use Granny Smith)
1/4 c orange juice*
2/3-3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. sugar*
1/2 c. gluten free flour* (I use King Arthur’s)
1/2 c. gluten free oats* (I use Bob Red Mill)
1 tsp. cinnamon*
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt*
1/3 c. butter, softened (I use unsalted butter)

Preheat oven to 375˚. Place apples in a greased 8x8 (or 9x9) square dish. Sprinkle with orange juice. In a large bowl, combine all other ingredients. Spoon topping over the apples. Bake for 30 minutes. Can serve warm or cold. 6 servings.

*Tweaked by Heather

Heather Blake (aka Heather Webber) is the author of more than a dozen mystery novels and has been twice nominated for an Agatha Award. She's a total homebody who loves to be close to her family, read, watch reality TV (especially cooking competition shows), drink too much coffee, crochet, bake (mostly cookies), and occasionally leave the house to travel to the beautiful mountains in the northeast. Heather grew up in a suburb of Boston, but currently she lives in the Cincinnati area with her family and is hard at work on her next book.

Twitter: @booksbyheather

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Guest Heather Blake's Potato Soup

Today I'm delighted to host Heather Blake in the Kitchen.  Not only is she an amazing writer (with two phenomenal witchy mystery series under her belt), but she also happens to be one of the sweetest, most wonderful people you could ever hope to meet.  And today she's bringing us a winter warmer: Potato Soup.


We had our first snowfall the other day, which unfortunately for me didn’t amount to much (I love snow), but it was the perfect excuse to stay inside, light the fire, and make a nice big pot of soup. One of my favorites is this recipe for hearty potato soup. It’s thick, rich, creamy and perfect to chase away the chill on a cold winter’s night.  My family loves it, too, especially the kids, mostly because they love piling on the (optional) cheese and bacon, making theirs “loaded” potato soup.  It’s all kinds of deliciousness, and I hope you’ll give it a try.

Potato Soup

1/4 c. butter + 1 tbsp.
1/4 c. flour (I substitute gluten-free flour)    
8 peeled and cubed potatoes, boiled separately until soft (usually 15 min.)
1/4 c. onion, chopped
2-3 medium carrots, sliced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 1/2 – 2 qt. of milk (more milk = thinner soup)
2 chicken (or vegetable) bouillon cube
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. parsley
1/4 tsp. pepper

Start with peeling, cubing, and boiling potatoes. While potatoes cook, in separate soup pot, over med. heat, melt 1 tbsp.  butter and sauté onion, celery, carrot together until tender. Remove from pot; set aside.  Melt 1/4 c. butter. Slowly whisk in flour until thick (about five minutes). Slowly add in quart(s) of milk. Add bouillon cube(s). Stir frequently until cube(s) is dissolved, (a few minutes). Divide potatoes in half. Mash half and add to pot, stir. Add remaining cubed potatoes and onion/celery/carrots. Add seasonings.  Simmer on low heat, stirring frequently, for 1/2 hour.
(Optional) Top with bacon, cheddar cheese, green onion. Serve with loaf of bread for dunking.
Serves four.


You can find Heather on the web at and as a regular contributor to the Cozy Chicks Blog at Her third Wishcraft Mystery, "The Good, the Bad, and the Witchy" is available now, and the first of her Magic Potion Mysteries ("A Potion to Die For") will be available November of 2013.

Editor's note ... I got the date wrong!  "The Good, the Bad, and the Witchy" will be available in April 2013. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ooh La La Cream Puffs

Have you met author Heather Blake? I've never seen her without a smile. You might be familiar with some of her books since Heather also writes under the name Heather Webber. She's the author of over a dozen novels. She's a Dr Pepper enthusiast, total homebody who loves to be close to her family, read, watch Reality TV (totally addicted, especially to competition shows), crochet, occasionally leave the house to hike the beautiful mountains in the northeast, bake (mostly cookies) and dreams of owning a house at the base of Mt. Mansfield in Stowe, VT. Heather grew up in a suburb of Boston, but currently, she lives in the Cincinnati area with her family and is hard at work on her next book.

Her latest book A Witch Before Dying hits the stores officially on August 7th.

When Darcy is hired by Elodie Keaton to clean up her missing mother’s disorderly home, the Wishcrafter is certainly up for the task. After all, the motto of her Aunt Ve’s personal concierge service As You Wish is “No Job Impossible.” But beneath the piles of old newspapers and knickknacks, Darcy discovers something much more disturbing: Patrice Keaton’s body.

Darcy’s determined to give Elodie peace of mind by investigating her mother’s disappearance and death. Patrice was last seen over a year ago after a fight with her Charmcrafter boyfriend. Was her murder a crime of passion? Or were Patrice’s troubles caused by the Anicula, a wish-granting amulet? Now Darcy has to find not only a killer but also the Anicula— before the power of ultimate wish fulfillment falls into the wrong hands…

Read more about Heather at .

And now -- Heather!

Back in the spring, my daughter came home from school with a specific assignment for her high school French class: She had to make a French recipe.

Of course, I volunteered to help because as I have a French character in my latest mystery series (Pepe, the mouse familiar from my Wishcraft mysteries), I felt as though I was fully qualified.

However, my daughter being the good girl she is opted to do the project on her own, though she graciously allowed me to be her sous chef (I can measure flour like no one’s business).

She pored over various recipes and ended up making something that we’re quite fond of in our family: Cream puffs! Light and crisp pastry shells that have a yummy filling. Fillings can be anything you choose, from savory to sweet. She opted to use our family’s vanilla custard filling for her assignment.

There are many recipes for cream puffs out there—all very similar. Here’s hers:

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs at room temperature

Preheat oven to 375˚. In a medium pot, combine the water and the butter and bring it to a boil. Remove it from the heat and dump in the flour, stirring until it’s all combined. Let it cool for a couple of minutes before returning it to the heat (on medium) and stir constantly until a dough ball forms. One at a time, add the eggs, and stir briskly until the dough is nice and smooth (great arm workout!). 

Place rounded tablespoons of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet (which can be lined with parchment if you prefer), 2-3 inches apart. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the pastry is nice and golden brown. During the last few minutes of baking, you can poke one or two holes in the dough with a toothpick to let steam escape and prevent puffs from collapsing (she didn’t do this and her puffs were fine). 

After cooling, cut the top part of the puff off (save it!), remove some of the doughy insides (they look like strings), and fill the pastry with your favorite filling. Then replace the top (like a little hat).

***You can adjust the dough amount depending on what size puff you prefer. Small bite-sized puffs are great for appetizers.

Yield depends on size of the puffs. My daughter’s batch made twenty.

Vanilla Custard Filling (can be easily doubled):

1 cup milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbs. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract
In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour, and salt
In another small bowl, combine egg yolks, beating gently to combine

On medium heat, warm milk in a pot until you start to see steam rising. Slowly whisk in the sugar, flour, salt mix. Stir until the mixture thickens, about five minutes. Remove a teaspoon of the mix and slowly temper it into the egg yolks, then slowly whisk the egg yolk mixture into the custard. Continue to cook for another five minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Transfer into a bowl and let cool for ten minutes before placing a layer of plastic wrap over the top of the custard (actually touching the custard—this prevents skin from forming) and refrigerate until completely cool—a few hours. 

***A quick and easy substitute for vanilla custard is to use instant vanilla pudding.

You can dust the top of your cream puff with confectioner’s sugar or drizzle with chocolate.

Bon appetit!