I am so excited Denise Swanson is my guest today. She has been posting cupcake pictures on her Facebook Page for weeks and I have been drooling!!
Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Cupcakes
1. Be open to new experiences. When I started writing Dying for a Cupcake, since it was about a cupcake contest, I looked for recipes with unique flavors and ingredients. Up until that point, I had only made my mother’s chocolate or my grandmother’s silver-white recipes. While I still love the old tried and true chocolate and white cupcakes, I have to admit that the cream cheese cupcakes with guava buttercream were mighty tasty. (See recipe below)
2. Never take shortcuts. Boxed mixes and canned frostings seem like a time saver, but like everything in life, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
4. The best things in life don’t last forever. Be it a freshly baked cupcake or your favorite jeans or the people you love, enjoy them while you can because the cupcake will get stale, the jeans will wear out and the people will eventually be gone.
5. Perfection is highly overrated. For a long time, I wouldn’t make cupcakes for parties or potlucks because mine never looked as perfect as the ones in the pictures. They all weren’t exactly even and the frosting wasn’t swirled just right. Then one day, my husband took a batch that I had rejected as not good enough to his office. They were a huge hit. Most of his colleagues were used to store bought bakery and couldn’t get enough of my homemade treats.
If I had never gotten over my perfectionism, I would have never gotten past the first chapter when I started writing. Sometimes, you just have to be willing to learn from your early efforts, rather than refuse to try.
In cupcake making, just as in life, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. You may have all the fancy equipment from the Food Network, you may be using a recipe that’s been in your family for generations, but stuff still happens. A too hot kitchen, high humidity, or a faulty timer can destroy all your work.
But instead of vowing never to try again. Clean up the mess and make a fresh start. When I was submitting my first book to agents, I received two hundred and seventy rejection letters. And while a lot of them had valid criticism, much of what they didn’t like was out of my control because when it all comes down to it, most things in like, like cupcakes, are a matter of taste.
Cream Cheese Cupcakes with Guava Butter Cream
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup softened cream cheese
1/4 cup and 2 teaspoons shortening
1/4 cup and 2 teaspoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/3 cups and 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon milk
pinch of salt
1/3 cup guava marmalade
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well, add cream cheese. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and vanilla. Blend in the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the milk, and continue mixing until light and fluffy. Separately blend guava until smooth, then add to butter cream a little at a time. Place in the fridge. After cooling place in piping bag and swirl.
About the author: A former school psychologist, New York Times bestselling author Denise Swanson spent twenty-two years working in the public school system. She realized her experiences were actually excellent research for mysteries. Denise’s fourth book in the Devereaux’s Dime Store series, Dying for a Cupcake, debuted March 3. Denise also writes the Scumble River Mysteries.
Dying for a Cupcake:
A Devereaux’s Dime Store Mystery
4th in Series
Setting – Missouri
An Obsidian Mystery (March 3, 2015)
An Imprint of New American Library
Published by The Penguin Group
Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
E-Book ASIN: B00MNN7HVC
When Devereaux “Dev” Sinclair hosts a cupcake contest at her five-and-dime store, she discovers that someone is just dying to win…
Kizzy Cutler finds it so delicious to be back in her hometown of Shadow Bend, Missouri, that she seems to have forgotten why she fled twenty years ago. For now, she’s excited to kick off her new line of cupcakes with a competition, which Dev has agreed to host in her shop. But before the first yummy cupcake is even baked, Kizzy’s assistant Fallon dies from a mysterious ailment.
While the medical examiner attempts to discover what killed Fallon, Kizzy declares that the show must go on. However after Kizzy escapes several near misses, Dev is convinced that someone in Shadow Bend has it in for the Cupcake Queen. Is the secret from her past so dark someone still wants to kill her for it?
With a list of not-so-sweet suspects, Dev’s in a race against the timer to solve the murder before someone else gets iced…
Includes a sneak peak of the next Scumble River Mystery!
Denise reeled me right in, she has been posted cupcakes on her Facebook page for weeks and had me drooling to read this book.
In this 4th installment to this fun series Shadow Bend welcomes former resident, now the Cupcake Queen, Kizzy Cutler, and a weekend of fun as a contest is held to find her newest cupcake creation. The 10 contestants arrive along with Kizzy and her entourage. But before the first cupcake is baked Kizzy’s assistant dies and it doesn’t appear to be from natural causes.
As the investigation gets underway Kizzy announces the weekend festivities will continue. That makes someone very unhappy as Kizzy has several dramatic experiences. Dev starts to think the assistant wasn’t the one that was suppose to die. She believes someone is targeting Kizzy and it may have to do with something that happened in Shadow Bend more than 20 years ago. The makes for one sweet mystery!
Dev runs the local five and dime and her father recently released from prison helps her out at the store. This time the men Dev is dating are both out of town. Dr. Noah is volunteering overseas for a couple of weeks and Deputy U.S. Marshall Jake is off investigating a case that involves his ex-wife. Enter the new fire chief with a pizza and Dev romantic life gets a lit more complicated.
What a fun read! We have the characters we already love, a new one to hate, plus a hunky new one that I know if going to cause havoc. Kizzy was a piece of work in high school, today we call them bullies. No wonder someone wants her gone.
The mystery was one that keeps us guessing and I can’t tell you more without ruining the story but it is really good. Denise Swanson is a pro at blending mystery and romance with the perfect amount of humor. I loved this story!
This is a fantastic addition to this entertaining series. The author sets up the next story too whetting our appetite for next year.
Thanks to the people at Penguin I have 2 copies to give away!
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”