Welcome to my Friday bonus feature called Karen’s Killer Fixin’s **Author Special**!! Today, in lieu of one of my own recipes, I’m going to introduce you to a new author who will share one of her favorite recipes. Not only will you and I occasionally learn how to make something new and delicious, but we’ll get a chance to check out some wonderful authors. Introducing author, DEBRA SALONEN, and her favorite recipe: CHOCOLATE CRACKED EARTH (Flourless Chocolate Cake).
CALEB’S CHRISTMAS WISH
By DEBRA SALONEN
How far would you go for the sake of a child?
Black Friday. Black ice. Lives changed in a blink.
The lines in Miami financier Jake Westin’s world are crisp and easy to delineate: black and red, profit and loss. On paper. Until the day after Thanksgiving when Allison Jeffries—a woman he’s heard about for four and a half years but never met—calls to tell him the world they’ve shared from opposite sides of the country will never be the same. Pam and Kenny Rydell–Jake’s best friend and only link to the “bad ol’ days” of his youth—died in a car accident on the way to a Sierra ski resort, leaving their son, Caleb, with his grandmother, who upon hearing the news of her only daughter’s death went into cardiac arrest. In an instant, Caleb’s godparents–two grieving strangers who never imagined the worst-case scenario becoming a reality—must decide how to best care for the little boy they both love.
Jake is determined to do the right thing for Caleb–even if that means facing demons from his own loss-filled childhood and dealing with the woman Kenny called “a sweetheart but wound too tight for her own good.” Allison suffers no illusion that she’d make a good mother. After all, hasn’t she let her computer business fill the gap left by a failed marriage and aborted pregnancy? But she’ll do anything in her power to give her godson the life Pam intended for her son–even if that means sharing a house with the charismatic stranger Pam teasingly called “Jake the Rake–a broken heart waiting to happen.”
CALEB’S CHRISTMAS WISH
By DEBRA SALONEN
Hello, my reader friends,
Christmas is coming. Proof positive: yesterday in Lowe’s I saw a fleet of 10-foot inflated yard Santas, snowmen, penguins and Olafs looming above the Halloween decorations. My heart sped up and my palms went damp—not from the witches and skeletons but from the fact I haven’t bought a single gift and I’m SO not ready for the holiday push. And, by the way, what about Thanksgiving?!
That said, I’ve found a great way to gently ease into the holiday mood: Christmas romances. I just released CALEB’S CHRISTMAS WISH and turned in my final edits for my December release from Tule Publishing: MONTANA SECRET SANTA—book 3 in the “Love at the Chocolate Shop series.” There’s so much I love about this holiday that sometimes gets lost in the frenetic marketing and drive to create the perfect holiday season. Reading romance helps keep things in perspective.
The best gift I can think of is time to enjoy the people in our lives because, as we all know, life is unpredictable. Accidents happen regardless of our best-laid plans. When the unthinkable happens, lives change in a blink. CALEB’S CHRISTMAS WISH examines themes of friendship, promises, loss and grieving, but with the future of a four-and-a-half-year-old hanging in the balance, there is also love, self-forgiveness, hope and joy.
If you know that families aren’t limited to the one you were born into then you will understand and appreciate the transformation of my hero and heroine–Caleb’s godparents–as they do their best to care for the little boy they love, and fall in love with each other in the process.
This snippet might surprise you because it’s written in Caleb’s point of view as he tries to make sense of what has happened. He’s speaking with a wise and kind soul who gently counsels every member of this new family. Who says Santa isn’t real?
I wish you a safe—and stellar–holiday season filled with great love, joy and time!
Godparents. Caleb had heard the word, of course, but he’d never really thought about it. He knew who God was—the biggest person in the world. The One who took his real parents away.
“Don’t call them that,” Caleb said. “God is mean. Can’t they just be my parents, without God?”
The man’s thick brows flickered the same way Rom’s whiskers moved. “That’s the term given to the person or persons who look after a child if anything happens to his family. I think God would be proud to have His name associated with Jake and Allison.”
“Will God take them away, too?” He voiced the question that made his stomach ache.
Padre put down his coffee and helped Caleb climb up on his knee. “Caleb,” he asked gently. “Do you know the story of Baby Jesus?”
“Sure. That’s why we have Christmas. Ally read me the story last night before bed.”
“Then you know that Jesus is God’s son. And millions of people celebrate his birth. He was God’s gift to us. A very generous gift, considering he died, too. Just like your parents.”
Caleb didn’t answer. He didn’t like thinking about his parents. He wasn’t mad at them anymore, but he missed them very much.
“Caleb, what happened to your mother and father was a really sad thing. When something bad takes place, it’s natural to blame God. But I want you to think about this—He lost a son, too. He knows how you feel and He made sure that you have good people in your life to look after you. That’s not mean, is it?”
Caleb thought for a minute. If Jesus was God’s son, did that mean Mary and Joseph weren’t his real parents? Maybe they were godparents—picked special to care for His little boy.
“I don’t want Jake and Ally to go to heaven,” Caleb said. “Or anywhere. I want them to stay with me.”
“Have you told them how you feel?”
Caleb looked around. Ally wasn’t in the corner anymore. And Jake was looking down the hallway toward Caleb’s grandma’s room. He was frowning. “Should I?” he asked.
Padre smiled. “I think being loved by a neat kid like you would make them both very happy.”
“Okay,” Caleb said, sliding to the floor. “I gotta go tell them I want them to be my mommy and daddy forever. ’Bye.” He took a step, then stopped. His mother would have scolded him if he forgot his manners. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. And Merry Christmas.”
As he raced away, Caleb heard the man laugh. It sounded a lot like Ho-Ho-Ho. Caleb grinned. Maybe Padre was the real Santa Claus. He wasn’t fat, but he did make Caleb feel better.
Former award-winning newspaper journalist Debra Salonen is a nationally bestselling author with 40+ published novels. Debra was named Romantic Times Reviewer’s Career Achievement “Series Storyteller of the Year” in 2006. Debra’s 9-book Big Sky Maverick’s series for Tule Publishing is set in Montana, with her 10th book—part of the “Love at the Chocolate Shop” series releasing Dec. 6th. Her 10-book Black Hills Rendezvous series takes place in Debra’s home state of South Dakota. Debra lives in the foothills near Yosemite National Park in California—the setting for Caleb’s Christmas Wish.
Links to Debra’s Website, Books, & Social Media:
P.S. We’re at 281 recipes and counting with this posting. Hope you find some recipes you like. If this is your first visit, please check out past blogs for more Killer Fixin’s. In the right hand column menu, you can even look up past recipes by type. i.e. Desserts, Breads, Beef, Chicken, Soups, Author Specials, etc.
CHOCOLATE CRACKED EARTH
(Flourless Chocolate Cake)
[Recipe adapted from the foodnetwork.com/Tyler Florence]
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
(I used 1(one) 8-oz package of semi-sweet chocolate and 2(two) 3-oz 70% dark chocolate candy bars…because I failed to read the recipe before I went shopping. But, this worked. Simply use less sugar–see below.)
1 stick unsalted butter
9 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar , plus 1 Tablespoon (I used 1/2 cup because of the candy bars.)
2 C heavy cream (I like to whip mine with 1/2 teaspoon sugar and a few drops of vanilla flavoring)
Confectioners sugar for dusting (optional)
~Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 9-inch springfoam pan.
~Put chocolate and butter into the top of double boiler and heat over about 1″ of simmering water until melted.
~Whisk egg yolks with the sugar in a mixing bowl until light yellow in color. Whisk a little of the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs. (This will keep the eggs from scrambling from the heat of the chocolate.) Then whisk in the rest of the chocolate mixture.
~Beat the egg whites in a mixing bowl until stiff peaks form and fold into the chocolate mixture.
~Pour into prepared pan and bake until cake is set and the top starts to crack.
~Test with a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake. It should come out with moist crumbs clinging to it.
~The recipe says: 20-25 minutes; mine took 35-40 minutes.
~Let stand 10 minutes, then remove sides of pan. The cake will sink slightly, but that’s okay.
~Dust with confectioners sugar (optional).
~Serve at room temperature.
**SPECIAL GIVEAWAY**: First, I’d like to offer you all a free anthology called CELEBRATE II—5 authors, 5 celebrations of life, love and family! https://www.instafreebie.com/free/PoVGD
Second, I’m curious about whether you read holiday books throughout the year or only as the holidays approach? A simple yes or no will qualify you to win a free download of any title in my Black Hills Rendezvous series. (All titles are available in all formats, except print.) Karen will pick one respondent next week. Thanks for reading!
Thanks, Debra, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!