Whoop! It’s Friiiiiday. And an especially good one for me because I’m on the cusp of handing in the first round of my Rocking Horse Hill edits. Plus I have a super-cool new guest for you. But first, the moment you’ve been waiting for, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf Weekly.
I had an airy. Yup, I took a swing and missed the ball completely. And this was after I’d taken a penalty drop as punishment for hitting my ball into a water hazard. About sums things up, really. Ahh, well. At least it wasn’t on the first tee in front of everyone. One must be thankful for small mercies.
Now to my guest. Please excuse me while I have a major fan-girl moment, cos Sarah Mayberry is all kinds of awesome. Not only is she a most splendiferous super-selling romance author, she writes for Australia’s longest surviving serial drama, Neighbours! Sarah has also co-created her own TV drama called Karaoke High (sounds like my kind of school), occasionally helps out on other shows, and consults on movie projects. See? Told you she was cool.
Sarah’s latest release is Her Favourite Rival, a book I just loved. The zing between the hero and heroine, both beautifully drawn characters, is perfect. If you want a feel good book, the sort you’ll want to cuddle afterward because you had such a good time, then this is it.
Audrey Mathews has worked hard to get here. Now she’s up for a promotion and nothing will stand in her way – including Zach Black. He’s hot, smart and the competition. When they’re assigned to the same project, she’s shocked at how much she actually likes about him….and how much she misjudged him.
Before long Audrey is seriously falling for Zach – and indulging in an affair that’s against company policy. And the stakes rise when it’s clear only one of them can get ahead. So where do they draw the line between competition and love? Especially when she doesn’t want to lose either the promotion or the guy…
Trust me, this is a cracking romance. And there’s a related book, too – Her Favourite Temptation – which is equally as good.
You can purchase Her Favourite Rival right now direct from the publisher, Harlequin, or try your local book or chain store, or that most excellent of booksellers, Booktopia. For the ebook, try Kobo, Amazon (for Kindle), JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, iTunes, BigW ebooks or your favourite retailer.
Now that you’re all loaded up, go have some foodie fun with Sarah.
First up, a big thanks to Cathryn for inviting me to talk about one of my favourite things today – food! It took me ages to decide what recipe I wanted to share with everyone, and I finally fell back on a cake that has been living in my subconscious for the past few months – a sure sign that it’s time for me to bust out the bundt tin and make it again!
Like any self-respecting romance writer, I have been having a love affair with cake in all its forms all my life. Pretty much anything goes for me, except that horrible thick marzipan icing – blurg. Otherwise, if its made from sugar, fats and flour, the sky is the limit. When we were kids, I can remember my mum making brandy alexander cakes, and piping cream into sponges and chocolate cakes. Because my mother was nothing if not modern, she was an early adaptor of the packet cake mix, and more power to her. Us kids definitely didn’t know the difference! Helping her cook and then fighting with my siblings for first go at the bowl and the beaters are some of my fondest and yummiest memories. In fact, there was a time there where I was convinced that cake actually tasted better as a batter than it did cooked. Crazy times, indeed.
I should probably confess up front that today’s recipe was stolen from a magazine when we were living in New Zealand. It was a very old, tatty magazine, the type that kicks around a cafe until it is actually a biological hazard it’s so old. Nevertheless, I employed the usual covert stratagems in order to liberate the recipe page from the clutches of the magazine’s binding – my husband was appointed lookout and instructed to cough loudly as I tore out the page as discreetly as possible. This was – obviously! – in the days before iphones and whatnot. Nowadays I just boldly take a picture of the recipe on the page.
The thing was, once I saw the picture of this finished cake and read the instructions, I knew this cake was for me. It’s moist, it’s got dates in it, and there is chocolate. Oh, and there’s alcohol. It’s hard to argue with all of the above, don’t you think? It’s not a cake you want to inflict on a family gathering – the kids will be very sulky because they can’t have any because of the alcohol – but it’s fantastic as a dessert cake. I am actually drooling a little while typing this.
Anyway, without further ado, here’s my recipe, I hope you get a chance to make it and enjoy:
Coffee Drizzle Cake with Dates
225g/8oz butter, softened and chopped
2 cups caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
150g/5.5oz ground almonds
1 1/3 cups self raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarb of soda
30g/1oz of cocoa
1 1/4 cups espresso coffee, cooled
1/2 cup buttermilk
200g/7oz fresh dates, pitted, cut into slivers (if fresh dates aren’t available, dried are fine – pit them and cut them into slivers, then soak them in boiling water to soften them before soaking them in the brandy/cognac)
3 tablespoons of brandy/cognac
3/4 cup of caster sugar
1/4 cup espresso coffee
Pour the brandy over the slivered dates and set aside to soak for an hour. Turn the mixture over every now and then to distribute the brandy/cognac.
Preheat oven to 190 degrees C/375 F/Gas mark 5. In a mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla essence until fluffy. Add eggs one by one, beating after each.
Sift the flours, bicarb of soda, cocoa and a pinch of sea salt over the egg mixture. Add the buttermilk and cooled espresso and whisk until smooth. Spoon into a well-greased 24cm non-stick fluted (bundt) cake tin. (You can use a standard round or square tin, too, just adjust the cooking time to suit). Bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. ( I cooked this recently in my new fan-forced oven and it took only 35 minutes, so perhaps check on the cake a few times the first time you make it.) Let it stand in the tin for 10 minutes before easing the sides and then turning the cake onto a wire rack.
For the syrup, combine the sugar and 1/3 cup of water in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then simmer without stirring until a golden caramel. Remove from heat, add the 1/3 cup of espresso – being very careful, as the sugar will spit. Stir until smooth.
Top the cake with the slivered dates, then use a spoon to drizzle the syrup evenly over the cake. Serve with ice cream or double cream.
I promise that this cake is delicious, grown up and irresistible in the extreme. And now I have to make it, because I need to taste it again. Num num num.
Thanks for having me, Cathryn, and I hope you all enjoy.
I most definitely shall enjoy, Sarah. That cake is right up my…er…cakehole! Anything with dates in it is a winner I always think. And cognac. Plus it looks so pretty!
Hmm, which has me thinking… What’s your favourite adults-only food? I luuuurve tiramisu, and make a rather delish version with Tia Maria added the sponge biscuit soaking mix.
What about you? Do you have a favourite dish full of contraband? Like to share? You never know, your idea could make it onto someone’s next home alone menu…