While I’m not a fan of white chocolate personally – though I always requested a white chocolate Easter bunny when I was younger – Michael is, so I when I want to make a treat that is just for him I often do so with white chocolate.
I snapped some pictures so I could throw together a recipe for the blog at the same time. 🙂 Though – a reminder to my lovely readers – I’m not a chocolatier, just an amateur enthusiast.
Pistachio, Cranberry, and White Chocolate Bark
200 grams (0.44 pounds/approx. 7 ounces) white chocolate*
1/4 cup pistachios (shelled) (heaping)
1/4 cup dried cranberries (heaping)
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the chocolate to a large heat proof bowl. Set the bowl over a small pot of simmering water. Stir frequently until the chocolate is almost melted. Remove bowl from the heat, wiping the bottom (if you get any water in your chocolate it will seize). Stir chocolate until it is completely melted.
Mix in cranberries and pistachios.
Scrape the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, using the spatula to spread it to desired thickness. Sprinkle with extra nuts and fruit, if desired.
Refrigerate the baking sheet until the chocolate sets. Once the bark is firm, break it into pieces. Store in the refrigerator.
I had to shell the pistachios because I couldn’t find any unshelled! Remember that nuts do go bad so please use the freshest you can find.
*I used Zephyr by Cacao Barry (34% cocoa – a lightly sweet white chocolate with an intense milk taste). Feel free to switch out the chocolate but Michael gave this flavour combo a massive thumbs up.
When I have extra chocolate in the house, or perhaps odds and ends of chocolate leftover, I occasionally make these Chocolate Palettes. I’m not a chocolatier – just an exceedingly enthusiastic amateur – and no matter how many times I try, or whose directions I follow, I can’t seem to properly temper chocolate. But since these tasty bits usually get eaten straight out of the fridge, I don’t worry about the grey streaks that can appear when you don’t temper chocolate properly. If you want them to continue looking pretty for guests, pull them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before serving.
200 grams (0.44 pounds/approx. 7 ounces) dark chocolate, chopped*
various nuts, roasted**
various dried fruit, cut into small pieces***
Fleur du sel (optional)
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the chocolate to a large heat proof bowl. Set the bowl over a small pot of simmering water. Stir frequently until the chocolate is almost melted. Remove bowl from the heat, wiping the bottom (if you get any water in your chocolate it will seize). Stir the chocolate until it is completely melted. Cool, occasionally stirring, until slightly thick.
Spoon chocolate onto prepared baking sheet by the teaspoon. Allow to cool more.
Dot rounds with nuts and fruit. Sprinkling with Fleur de sel, if desired.
Refrigerate the baking sheet until the chocolate sets. Makes approx. 26 palettes.
Store in the refrigerator.
As you can see by the pictures I’m fairly random with my various toppings. One nut with two pieces of fruit. Two nuts with two pieces of fruit. Sometimes I add sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Remember that nuts and seeds do go bad so please use the freshest you can find.
*I used a 85% cocoa and a 73% cocoa chocolate bar, plus Fleur de Cao from Cacao Barry (a 70% cocoa – strong cocoa flavour with subtle floral and fruity notes).
** I used pistachios and almonds
*** I used organic dried cranberries, dried pear, and dried plum. I soak the pear in pineapple juice for approx. 15 minutes before dehydrating it. So it’s pretty much candy. The plums are Early Italian, which I eat/dry about 40 pounds of each year. No, I’m not exaggerating.
You might have just received an email about my new release mailing list reengagement campaign. Essentially, I’ve trimmed everyone off my mailing lists who (according to my hosting site) haven’t engaged or opened an email from me in a couple of years. Or who recently signed up for my list via Instafreebie.
I’ve done this for two reasons.
- I have an upcoming new release (Reconstructionist 2) and don’t want to continue spamming anyone who doesn’t wish to be spammed. Our inboxes are full enough!
- I pay MailChimp to host my mailing lists for me, so subscribers who don’t actually want to get emails from me actually cost me a tiny bit of money every month.
To make this a fun endeavour, I decided to put together three prize packages, including autographed paperbacks of the three entry points to the Adept Universe – find the reading order here – the Dowser, Oracle, and Reconstructionist Series.
All you need to do in order to enter is either subscribe to, or already be on, my new release mailing list. Yep, everyone on my mailing list before March 28, 2017 will automatically be entered to win one of these three prizes. YAY! You can double check to see if you are already subscribed by trying to resubscribe.
Caveats: This does not include subscribers on my monthly newsletter (that is a separate list). Prize packs will be awarded randomly.
Notes/Rules: OPEN INTERNATIONALLY. Each mailing list subscriber will be assigned an entry number. THREE winning entries will then be selected via random number generator. One entry per person. Please make sure to fill out a valid email address. Prize winner will have seven days to response to email notification. If the prize goes unclaimed, a new winner will be randomly selected. No purchase necessary.
Giveaway closes TUESDAY, MARCH 28, 2016 at 8 p.m. PDT.
I celebrated getting Reconstructionist 2 off to the editor this morning by making brownies (as posted on Instagram) and it occurred to me that the recipe calls for a truly ackward measurement of butter – 6 tablespoons. And that most of my butter icing recipes aren’t any better – using 1/3 of cup.
I dug out my handy Butter Measuring Guide, and thought that it might be worth mentioning.
My Dad bought the stainless-steel guide pictured above for me as a Christmas gift many years ago (apparently from Lee Valley). And honestly, it sat in my drawer for awhile unused. I tended to fudge odd measurements when baking, simply using the guide that was printed on the foil wrapper. Then I took a closer look at the butter measuring guide and it’s crazy handy!
So that is my random baking tip.
What obscure kitchen item do you find is more useful than you thought it would be?
GIVEAWAY CLOSED. LUCKY #2 HAS BEEN EMAILED.
Sir Terry Pratchett passed away two years ago on March 12, 2015.
For the second [belated] anniversary of his death I would like to once again celebrate his work by hosting a giveaway for a copy of Wintersmith, which was the first book of his that I ever read. I’m slightly peeved that I’m ‘belated’ with this post again. I did have a warning in my calendar. But better late than never!
To celebrate Sir Terry’s life and his work, I would like to buy a copy of Wintersmith for one of you – for kindle, or iBooks, or Kobo, or in paperback. You name the format and I’ll buy it.
Comment below to enter. Tell me your favourite book of Sir Terry’s. Or why you’d like to read Wintersmith specifically. Or if you’ve already read Wintersmith who you’d like to gift it to (and why).
RIP Sir Terry Pratchett. Thank you for the entertainment, the inspiration, and for the strong women and inspiring world you created.
Notes/Rules: OPEN INTERNATIONALLY. Each comment will be assigned an entry number. ONE winning entry will then be selected via random number generator. One entry per person. Please make sure to fill out a valid email address in the comment form. Email addresses are not collected for any purpose other than notifying the contest winner. No purchase necessary.
If you haven’t commented on the blog before, or you comment from a different IP address, the comments are moderated. So don’t worry if you don’t see your entry right away. I will approve it, then assign it an entry number.
Giveaway closes WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15, 2016 at 8 p.m. PDT.
“I found another dead teen,” Jasmine said, dragging her bag out through the international arrivals area at Vancouver International Airport. She was wearing a heathered brown merino-wool cardigan that fell around her knees, over a long-sleeved black V-neck T-shirt and skinny-legged black jeans. Her brown leather boots almost perfectly matched the laptop satchel slung across her shoulders.
“Where?” Kett asked, appearing out of the crowd of travelers and the swarm of family and friends currently greeting each other ecstatically.
My cousin flinched, whipping her head around and sending a rampant cascade of dark-blond curls across her shoulders. She hadn’t seen the vampire before he spoke. It was unnerving to have a vampire sneak up on you, even when you were expecting to meet one. I knew. He’d been doing it to me all day.
“Kettil, the executioner and elder of the Conclave,” I said formally and as per protocol, introducing them as I had tried to do when they’d spoken on the phone. “Jasmine Fairchild, tech witch and certified investigator. Also, gourmet cook.”
Jasmine laughed at the gourmet comment. But compared to me, she was a five-star chef. As long as her short attention span didn’t distract her.
“Yes,” Kett said, smiling pleasantly. “Wisteria’s cousin. Dahlia’s daughter. Half-sister of Declan Benoit.”
Jasmine thrust her hand toward him, smirking sexily. “Well, you’ve done your homework.”
Kett’s smile widened to reveal a hint of white teeth as he shook her hand.
Jasmine laughed again, enjoying the attention. Me, the vampire decided to keep in a heightened state of fear. Jasmine, he decided to flirt with. Perhaps he preferred effervescent, slightly sarcastic personalities. Or perhaps it was Jasmine’s curls and bright-blue eyes. My cousin’s eyes were a lighter blue than Jade Godfrey’s, but a lot of witches shared that coloring — including my entire family.
– Excerpt from Chapter Five of Catching Echoes (Reconstructionist 1)
I’m officially ‘releasing’ a rebranded version of one of my very first novels – the standalone fantasy, Spirit Binder – and launching it along with a week long $0.99 sale, starting today.
For this rebranding, Elizabeth Mackey worked her magic on the cover, Pauline did a freshening proofreading pass, and I prettied up the interior with Vellum. The story/plot itself has not been edited/altered.
Spirit Binder is a tale of prophecy, destiny, divinity, and romance set a thousand years after spirit (aka magic) has risen to take back the world in an apocalyptic event.
from February 28 to March 6, 2017
I took these shots in the wrong season (Dec 31. 2016 and Jan 1, 2017 to be specific) and from a higher floor but I thought you might be interested in seeing the view from Wisteria’s hotel window in Catching Echoes, Reconstructionist 1.
An excerpt from Catching Echoes, Reconstructionist 1, Chapter Two:
I lapsed back into gazing out at the gorgeous city and toying with my bracelet again. I brushed my fingers over one of the two tiny reconstructions hidden among the platinum house and tree charms.
Effortlessly, I pulled a glimpse of a darkly tanned boy with golden-hazel eyes out from within it.
A sudden gust of wind hammered rain against the lower pane of the window, drawing my attention. And for a moment, through the blurred wash on the glass, I thought I saw a blond, pale figure standing in the rain at the edge of the outdoor pool, four floors down.
A figure that I would have sworn in that instant was Kett, gazing up at my hotel room.
Heart thumping, I threw myself out of my chair, pressing my hands against the rain-spattered window and scanning the wide, adobe-tiled patio below.
The image I’d pulled from the reconstruction winked out.
The area around the well-lit pool and hot tub was empty. The lounge chairs were all folded and tucked away along the edges of the sundeck. A slight haze of steam rolled off the tranquil light-blue water of the pool, and what little I could see of inside the hotel from this angle was devoid of people.
I had just imagined it.
I was allowing the tension of the day to make me feel vulnerable, even hunted. And that was a state I knew too much about already. I didn’t need to be randomly manifesting monsters stalking me in the dark.
Catching Echoes (Reconstructionist 1) is available on
in paperback and ebook.
I sent Reconstructionist 2 off to the editor for his story edit pass yesterday, which means that I have a few days in which to outline Reconstructionist 3. Unfortunately I made the mistake of showering and blow drying my hair this morning before work, so ALL THE STORIES waiting in the wings of my mind started clamouring for attention.
How many stories are waiting to be told?
Allow me to give you a visual:
These are my (current) notebooks, colour coded by series. The collection pictured above represents Reconstructionist 3, Dowser 7, 8, and 9, Necromancer 1, along with two more that I dare not mention by name because one might not happen and the second is rife with spoilers.
Yes. Seven novels. That’s easily two years of work.
Dutiful writer that I am, I distilled all the perfect scenes that had presented themselves to me in the shower (etc) into a few notes in each notebook. [Scenes are always perfect in my mind, it’s only once they hit paper that I get into trouble.] Then I put the notebooks away, leaving only Reconstructionist 3 on my desk.
So, just in case you were wondering, there is a long term plan. And I’m trying to stick to it!!