Friday Pieday: Salted Chocolate Tart

Friday Pieday Graphic

In THE SECRET INGREDIENT OF WISHES, the first pie Rachel makes with Catch is forced on her. She’s a convenient pair of hands. But more than that, Catch uses pie as a form of therapy for herself and others. So when Rachel shows up on her doorstep, a “stray” as Catch calls her, Catch does everything she can to keep Rachel in the kitchen, talking about her life, her fears, and eventually her ability, all the while pushing Rachel out of her comfort zone and into real life.

So when Rachel starts making pies all on her own, she doesn’t hold back. She starts experimenting with different flavor combinations like raspberry and peaches or a salted chocolate tart with a kettle chip crust. The chocolate tart (from What’s Gabby Cooking) first caught my eye on Pinterest and I knew this decadent (and delicious) dessert had to be in the book. So I worked it into a pivotal scene between Rachel and Ashe’s little brother Scott. (Chapter 34, if you’re interested!) In this scene, Rachel and Scott talk about their families and how Catch has become that for both of them.

Tart Final

Ingredients

For the Kettle Chip Crust
    • 1 “Sharing Size” (or 8.5 ounces in the US) bag Kettle Chips, Sea Salt flavor
    • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
For the Chocolate Filling
    • 1/4 cups heavy cream
    • 10 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
For the Chocolate Ganache topping
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Instructions

For the Kettle Chip Crust
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. In a food processor, pulse the potato chips until they are finely ground. Add the melted butter and flour and pulse for 30 seconds to combine.
    3. Press the potato chip crust into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan.
    4. Transfer to the pre-heated oven and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Tart1

For the Chocolate Filling
    1. Combine the cream and chocolate chips in a medium pot over medium heat and warm the cream until the chocolate starts to melt. Whisk these 2 ingredients together until completely smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla and salt and continue to whisk until smooth over medium heat.
    2. Once smooth, remove the pot from the heat and pour the Chocolate Filling mixture into the cooled tart shell and place it back into the oven and bake for 22-25 minutes. Remove it from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes.

Tart2

For the Chocolate Ganache topping
  1. Heat the cream in a small saucepan and add the chocolate. Whisk together over medium heat until the mixture is smooth and all the chocolate has melted.
  2. Pour this mixture over the middle of the chocolate tart and use an offset spatula to spread it around evenly.
  3. Let the entire tart chill overnight in the refrigerator.
  4. Dust with flaky sea salt before slicing and serving.

Tart3

Friday Pieday: Strawberry Pie

Friday Pieday Graphic

The Secret Ingredient of Wishes is set during the summer in a fictional North Carolina town. And for me, nothing says summer like juicy, sweet strawberries. And the only thing that could make strawberries better is to bake them into a butter, flaky crust and top it off with a good dollop of whipped cream.

So when I needed a pie for a scene that marked a key turning point in Rachel and Ashe’s relationship, sun-warmed strawberry pie seemed like the perfect choice.  The pie starts as a peace offering of sorts, but winds up helping these two finally start to open up to each other. Because when you eat pie right from the pan with someone else, it’s hard to keep up emotional walls. (Chapter 12, if you’re interested!)

There are a ton of recipes out there (I have lots on my WISHES Pinterest board), but the one I’m fond of comes from The Little Epicurean. It is amazing. It’s also super simple to make.

Final Pie

Ingredients
• 5 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced in half/quartered
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar, or more depending on sweetness of berries
• 3 Tbsp cornstarch
• 1/2 tsp sea salt
• two pie crusts
• milk, as needed
• turbinado sugar, as needed

Ingredients1

  • For the crust, I used my go-to butter crust recipe, but The Little Epicurean has a recipe included with her strawberry pie too. (Or you can use a store-bought crust, but it’s so easy to make on your own, why would you buy one?)

Crust

  • Once you’ve prepared your crust and have lined the pie pan with the bottom layer, stick it in the fridge to chill. Then it’s onto the filling…
  • Combine strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl. And mix together.
  • Pour strawberry mixture into the chilled pie crust. Cover with top crust and crimp the edges in whatever fashion works best for you. (You’ll see below that mine is a clumsy mess!)
  • IngredientsChill pie and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  • Place chilled pie on baking sheet. Brush top of the pie lightly with whole milk and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Then cut vent holes in the top crust to let the steam escape.
  • Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 15 minutes. Then rotate the pie and continue baking for another 20-30 minutes until pie is golden brown. Let it cool on a rack before serving.

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Friday Pieday: Peach Habanero Pie

Friday Pieday Graphic

Welcome to Friday Pieday! With the release of The Secret Ingredient of Wishes less than a month away, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite pie recipes that I used in the book. Unfortunately, I’m not Catch (the cranky but loveable pie maker in the book) and my pies are not magical. But I can promise the recipes will result in pies that taste pretty damn good. Let’s kick things off with the first pie to make an appearance in the book: Peach Habanero Pie.

Peaches and the-hotter-the-better peppers are two of my husbands favorite things. So when it came time to give swoony Southern gentleman Ashe a favorite pie, I knew just what flavors it would include. (While Ashe is not my husband, they do share some characteristics.) So of course I had to make one in real life and try it out. And boy, does this pie have a kick. So if you’re not a spicy fan, maybe cut down on the habaneros a bit.
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Ingredients
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 3 seeded minced habanero peppers
  • 10 peeled chopped fresh peaches
  • 3 tablespoons ice-cold peach nectar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  • Put the flour and the salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse briefly once or twice to combine.
  • Add the butter and pulse 4 or 5 times, a few seconds per time, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • With the machine running, drizzle the peach nectar into the dough, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough gathers itself into a crumbly mass.
  • You might need less or more than in the recipe.
  • Transfer the dough to a bowl, shape it into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate for half an hour to hydrate the dough.

Pie Crust Preparation

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Put 4 of the chopped peaches in the food processor, and pulse for a minute to puree.
  • Add the minced habanero peppers a teaspoon at a time, and puree until smooth.
  • Put the other 6 sliced peaches into a bowl, and toss lightly with the habanero puree.

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  • Combine ⅓ cup of the flour with the sugar and ¼ cup of softened unsalted butter until it forms a crumbly mixture. This is the streusel topping.
  • Cut the dough in half, and roll each half into a 10 inch circle.
  • Fit one dough circle into a 9-inch pie dish.
  • Pour the peach-habanero filling into the bottom pie crust, and sprinkle with the streusel topping.

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  • Fit the top crust on to the pie, and crimp with a fork to seal the edges. (or, you know, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter and arrange the pie crust pieces over the top!)
  • Cut several slits into the top crust for venting the steam.
  • Bake for 50 minutes or until the the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

20160806_163552

Pitch Wars 2016: You Might Be Our Mentee If…

Selecting a Pitch Wars mentor (or co-mentors in our case) can seem daunting. There are so many of us. And let’s be honest, everyone involved in Pitch Wars is pretty great. So how is a potential mentee supposed to choose?
Emerson Cod

Well, we’re here to make it super easy on you. Pick us! Okay, kidding. (Mostly kidding, anyway). But if you have a Women’s Fiction, Literary, or Magical Realism book, and it’s fresh and shiny (to be clear, to us “shiny” means polished, not first draft material) and you’re ready (we mean really ready) to get a solid critique, PRETTY PLEASE SEND IT TO US. No, really. Go to the submission form (on August 3rd), put Karma Brown and Susan Bishop Crispell down as a top mentors pick, and hit send. For everything you need to know about how to submit, including the amazing agents playing along, head on over to Brenda Drake’s blog.

Since you’re still reading, we’ll assume that either A) your manuscript fits one (or more) of the above descriptions or B) you just want to get to know us a little better. Either way, we’re glad you’re still with us. Especially because now we get to convince you why should you pick us:

1. You just might get the most thorough critique of your life. That might sound like an exaggeration, but we are seriously thorough. Between the two of us, your manuscript will get the full range of macro and micro edits. We’ll look at big-picture stuff like the story’s hook, pacing, tension, and characterization, as well as the smaller details like word choice, consistency, unnatural dialogue, and character actions that don’t feel organic to the story. When we’re done, we promise you a manuscript riddled with track changes. If that level of revision scares you, another mentor/team might be a better choice for you. But if you can handle tough but constructive feedback and are excited about taking your book to the next level, we’re all in. (Not sure if that much work is worth it, check out Susan’s success story when Karma was her mentor in 2014!)

2. We’re with you for the long haul. Pitch Wars is so much more than simply getting a solid critique of your book. That’s a huge (invaluable) part to be sure, but our cheerleading, advice, and all-around support can make the solitary act of writing feel much less lonely long after the contest has ended. We’ll be there to celebrate your successes (and tell the world about them too!), encourage you when the writing isn’t going as planned, and share our experiences working with agents and editors as well as all the roller-coaster of emotions that come with the pursuit of publication. To quote J.K. Rowling, “There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other…” Hopefully you won’t encounter a twelve-foot mountain troll like in Harry Potter, but if you do, we’ll be there for that too.

sookie

3. We’re firm believers that reading makes for better writing. We read a lot, and from a wide variety of genres. For one, we’re readers first, but also because we believe reading books — even those outside your particular genre or age category (or maybe especially those!) — is the best way to improve your writing. We both write upmarket women’s fiction (Karma’s books are realistic, heartbreaking yet hopeful stories of love and loss and finding strength amid it all, and Susan’s are magical and quirky and end with a happily-ever-after), but we read everything from young adult, to (light) urban fantasy, to thrillers, to everything in between. And each one of those books has something to teach us. Whether it’s about voice or world-building or plot techniques or creating an instant emotional connection to the main character. Then we take what we’ve learned and apply it to our books to continually improve our own craft. And that’s exactly what we want to help you do!

If you missed our Pitch Wars mini-interview you can check it out here.

Still want to know a bit more about us?

KarmaBrownKarma: I live near Toronto, Canada (if you would like to know the appropriate way to insert ‘eh’ into a conversation, I’m glad to help), am happily married and mom to a great, early-rising kid who has trained me well for my #5amwritersclub group on Twitter. I’m also an award-winning freelance journalist, a member of the Tall Poppies writers group, and am on the faculty of the Midwest Writers Workshop. When not writing you’ll find me reading, baking muffins, running, bing-watching Netflix, and adding items to my very long bucket list. I’m represented by Carolyn Forde at Westwood Creative Artists, and am author to the bestselling and one of Globe & Mail’s Top 100 Books for 2015 COME AWAY WITH ME (Mira/HarperCollins – 2015) and THE CHOICES WE MAKE (Mira/HarperCollins – July 2016).

Crispell_Full_Size_for_Printing01Susan: I live in Wilmington, North Carolina with my husband and our orange tabby cat, Pippin. Aside from writing, I obsess over swoony fictional boys and baked goods; spend all my spare money on books, art, and going to hard rock concerts; and fangirl over quirky TV shows, most of which got canceled way before their time (and I have a wax lion to prove it!). My debut women’s fiction novel THE SECRET INGREDIENT OF WISHES comes out Sept. 6, 2016 and THE PROBABILITY OF FATE releases fall 2017, both from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press. I am represented by Patricia Nelson at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. I earned a BFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and love that I can truthfully say I use my degree for my day job (I’m a proposal manager for a clinical research company) as well as being an author.

We haven’t scared you off yet? Fantastic! Now, for the part you’ve been oh-so-patiently waiting for…

In general, the books we’re most drawn to have a voice that jumps off the page, complicated issues, big hearts, and pretty words. Give us layered friendships and family drama and characters we can love, flaws and all. We particularly love stories that include food, magical realism, and strong women. Most of all, we want to be awed by your book.

Penelope_MagicSpecifically, what we’d love to see:

  • Women’s Fiction — think book club/upmarket (commercial with a literary feel): WHAT ALICE FORGOT (or anything by Liane Moriarty), AFTER I DO (Taylor Jenkins Reid), THE PILOT’S WIFE (Anita Shreve), ME BEFORE YOU (Jojo Moyes), WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE (Maria Semple), APRIL & OLIVER (Tess Callahan).
  • More literary (still with a commercial feel) — LITTLE BEE (Chris Cleave), THE DINNER (Herman Koch), THE NIGHT CIRCUS (Erin Morgenstern), FATES AND FURIES (Lauren Groff), STATION ELEVEN (Emily St. John Mandel).
  • Magical Realism — books with charming towns and magical elements that are full of quirk and whimsy (and in a perfect world, magic AND food): GARDEN SPELLS (Sarah Addison Allen), LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE (Laura Esquirel), PRACTICAL MAGIC (Alice Hoffman), LANDLINE (Rainbow Rowell), OF BEES AND MIST (Erik Setiawan).

We’re not looking for genre books, so Fantasy & Sci-fi, Romance (though we do like romantic storylines!), and Crime are not for us. If you’re not sure, give us a try. We’re open to having our minds changed by spectacular writing.

Scavenger hunt time! This wishlist was brought to you by the letter O.

Don’t forget to check out the other mentors’ blogs — click below and start doing your homework …


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Countdown to The Secret Ingredient of Wishes: 2 Months to go

The Secret Ingredient of Wishes Giveaway

Guys, my book comes out in two months. TWO! MONTHS! How amazing is that?

I am beyond excited to have this book out in the world come September. (A little freaked out too, but we’re not going to talk about that now. Now is for celebrating and getting other people as excited as I am. Okay, maybe not that excited but I’ll settle for somewhere close to it.) So to celebrate, I’m giving away a signed ARC! For those of you who don’t know what THE SECRET INGREDIENT OF WISHES is about, read on…

26-year-old Rachel Monroe has spent her whole life trying to keep a very unusual secret: she can make wishes come true. And sometimes the consequences are disastrous. So when Rachel accidentally grants an outlandish wish for the first time in years, she decides it’s time to leave her hometown—and her past—behind for good.

Rachel isn’t on the road long before she runs out of gas in a town that’s not on her map: Nowhere, North Carolina—also known as the town of “Lost and Found.” In Nowhere, Rachel is taken in by a spit-fire old woman, Catch, who possesses a strange gift of her own: she can bind secrets by baking them into pies. Rachel also meets Catch’s neighbor, Ashe, a Southern gentleman with a complicated past, who makes her want to believe in happily-ever-after for the first time in her life.

As she settles into the small town, Rachel hopes her own secrets will stay hidden, but wishes start piling up everywhere Rachel goes. When the consequences threaten to ruin everything she’s begun to build in Nowhere, Rachel must come to terms with who she is and what she can do, or risk losing the people she’s starting to love—and her chance at happiness—all over again.

Sound like something you want to read? If so, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! (You can also pre-order it online or from your local favorite indie store if you’re so inclined. Pre-order links are on my website.)

Giveaway: The Choices We Make

 

TCWM

Karma Brown’s second novel The Choices We Make comes out next week. And let me just tell you how excited I am! Karma is one of my favorite people (and my Pitch Wars co-mentor this year!) and deserves all of the critical acclaim she’s been getting for both of her novels. I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy of this book, and it does not disappoint. (But make sure you have some tissues handy.)

Since the book is all about the lengths best friends will go to for each other, I’m giving away a copy of the novel and a gorgeous (not cheesy!) set of gold best friend necklaces–one for the winner and one for her BFF! Here’s a longer description of the book:

Following her bestselling debut novel Come Away with Me, Karma Brown returns with an unforgettable story that explores the intricate dynamics between friends and mothers.

Hannah and Kate became friends in the fifth grade, when Hannah hit a boy for looking up Kate’s skirt with a mirror. While they’ve been close as sisters ever since, Hannah can’t help but feel envious of the little family Kate and her husband, David, have created—complete with two perfect little girls.

She and Ben have been trying for years to have a baby, so when they receive the news that she will likely never get pregnant, Hannah’s heartbreak is overwhelming. But just as they begin to tentatively explore the other options, it’s Kate’s turn to do the rescuing. Not only does she offer to be Hannah’s surrogate, but Kate is willing to use her own eggs to do so.

Full of renewed hope, excitement and gratitude, these two families embark on an incredible journey toward parenthood…until a devastating tragedy puts everything these women have worked toward at risk of falling apart. Poignant and refreshingly honest, The Choices We Make is a powerful tale of two mothers, one incredible friendship and the risks we take to make our dreams come true.

So what are you waiting for? Go enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Giveaway: Lies and Other Acts of Love

Lies

It’s officially summer, so to celebrate I’m giving away a signed copy of Lies and Other Acts of Love by the delightful Kristy Woodson Harvey. This book is the best kind of beach read. Here’s what it’s about:

After sixty years of marriage and five daughters, Lynn “Lovey” White knows that all of us, from time to time, need to use our little white lies.

Her granddaughter, Annabelle, on the other hand, is as truthful as they come. She always does the right thing—that is, until she dumps her hedge fund manager fiancé and marries a musician she has known for three days. After all, her grandparents, who fell in love at first sight, have shared a lifetime of happiness, even through her grandfather’s declining health.

But when Annabelle’s world starts to collapse around her, she discovers that nothing about her picture-perfect family is as it seems. And Lovey has to decide whether one more lie will make or break the ones she loves . . .

Sounds amazing, right? What are you waiting for? Go enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here!

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