Welcome Libby Mercer
Annie, thank you so much for having me here today! Two of my very favorite things in the world are escapist girly fiction and scrumptiously sweet treats. Put those two things together and I’m in a state of bliss. I thought it would be fun to find a couple of sweet treat recipes that would compliment my new book, Unmasking Maya, and share them with you today. I chose to focus on cupcakes because… well, who doesn’t love a cupcake?
Unmasking Maya takes place in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, so I knew at least one of these cupcakes must qualify as “California cuisine”. A relatively new style of cuisine, it’s often mistaken for “fusion” because both styles tend to focus on combining unusual flavors and ingredients.
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking soda
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
2 large eggs
¾ cup persimmon pulp (the insides of 1 to 2 seeded over-ripe persimmons)
½ cup orange juice
Directions: Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice and baking soda. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar, then mix in eggs, persimmon pulp and orange juice until thoroughly combined. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until fully incorporated. Fill cupcake liners ¾ full with batter. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Makes 12 cupcakes.
Persimmon Icing Recipe
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp. ground ginger
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups persimmon pulp (the inside of 2 to 3 over-ripe seeded persimmons)
12 oz. evaporated milk
Directions: Place all ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously until the mixture comes to a boil. Allow to boil for approximately 1 minute. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Pipe icing onto cooled cupcakes using a pastry bag with a star tip.
I knew the moment I came across the following recipe that I wanted it to be my second cupcake. The San Francisco Bay Area has such a large Asian American population and as such, there are quite a few Asian American characters in Unmasking Maya – most notably Lin, Maya’s quirky friend. Green tea originally comes from China, so I thought including this green tea cupcake would be a great way to highlight Unmasking Maya’s multicultural aspect.
Green Tea Cupcakes
½ cup whole milk
3 green tea bags
¾ cup + 1 T all-purpose flour
1 ½ T unsweetened cocoa powder
a scant ¾ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
3 T unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg, room temperature
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
Directions: Put milk and tea bags in a liquid measuring cup, cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 325F. Combine flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder salt and butter and beat on slow speed until everything is combined and you get a sandy consistency. Remove green tea bags from the infused milk and strain into the measuring cup. Combine milk with the egg and vanilla. Whisk together. Slowly combine half the milk mixture with other ingredients. Beat well on high speed. Turn mixer to medium-slow and slowly add the rest of the milk. Continue mixing until batter is smooth. Fill cupcake lines 2/3 of the way and bake for 20-25 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean. Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely. Wait until they are completely cooled to ice them. Makes 10-12 cupcakes.
Green Tea Buttercream Icing
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
5 T unsalted butter, room temperature
2 ½ T matcha green tea powder
2 T whole milk
Directions: Beat together confectioners’ sugar, butter and green tea powder on medium-slow speed until well mixed. Turn mixer down to slower speed and slowly add milk. When milk is completely incorporated, turn mixer up to high speed. Continue beating until icing is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes.
And there you have it. I hope I’ve inspired you to try out one or both of these recipes, and perhaps even my book. Before I sign off, here’s the a short blurb for Unmasking Maya, a quirky kind of love story:
Defamed, Disgraced and Displaced…
Fresh from a career-killing scandal, New York fashion girl, Maya Kirkwood, arrives in San Francisco to reinvent herself as a fine artist. She’s offered the opportunity to create an installation at the Silicon Valley headquarters of a hot new tech company. Fabulous, right?
Not so much.
She can’t stand Derek Whitley – wunderkind software genius and CEO of the company. Hot as he may be on the outside, inside the man is a cold, unemotional, robotic type. Way too left-brained for her right-brained self.
As Maya and Derek get to know each other, however, their facades begin to crack. She catches her first glimpse of the man behind the superhuman tech prodigy, and he starts to see her as the woman she used to be. But is this a good thing? Once that last secret is revealed, will it bring them closer together or will it tear them apart?
Bio and links:
Born and raised in the Midwest, Libby Mercer’s adventurous spirit kicked in after graduating from high school, and she’s since lived in Boston, NYC and London. San Francisco is the city she currently calls home. For several years, Libby worked in fashion – first as a journalist and then as a shopkeeper. She also dabbled in design for a while. Even through the crazy fashion years, Libby never let go of her dream of being a published author, and has since developed her signature writing style, crafting quirky chick lit/romance hybrids. Fashioning a Romance was her first published novel, and Unmasking Maya will be her second. Libby has a third novel, The Karmic Connection, scheduled for release in 2013.
Welcome to the chair
Thanks for the invite to join you on your beach, Annie! Australia’s beaches and sunshine are one of the main reasons I stayed here and never went back to England – the sand between your toes and the warm sun on your back…special places.
My favourite beach is a bit further south than you are. It’s called Pearl Beach and it’s tucked in the Bouddi National Park a couple of hours north of Sydney. It used to be a bit of a fisherman’s retreat with a few cobbled together fibro holiday houses and a shop that smelled of fishing bait and outboard motor fuel and sold warm chocolate milkshakes, the odd ice cream and day-old newspapers. Sadly the shop’s long gone, replaced by a rather smart restaurant and coffee shop and even a real estate agent, but Pearl Beach and a few memories were the starting point for my story Tree Change.
It was where Cassia and Jake lived and this is the beach that inspired Cassia’s driftwood sculptures before fame and fortune dragged her away to Sydney.
Most of the old fibro shacks really have been replaced by million dollar holiday mansions just like the one Jake built, but the view is still the same!
I’m fascinated by that first idea - the stepping stone that leads to a story. I had no idea where Tree Change (The Shack as it was originally called) would lead but Pearl Beach was definitely my inspiration. I must be a places person because my next book Lily’s Leap is set in the time-warp village of Wollombi where I now live and it couldn’t be anything other than a historical, could it?
Maybe, Annie, we could make a collection of ‘stepping stones’ and find out what who or where inspires authors to begin their stories. I bet it was sitting in that chair of yours over looking the ocean that started Holiday Affair. Am I right?
Despite her success in the Sydney art world Cassia yearns for the idyllic life she once lead with Jake in their shack over looking the Pacific Ocean. Seeking closure she falls, like a recovering addict, straight back into his arms, and out again equally quickly. Not only has he taken up with his brother's wife but they have a child.
Truth is Jake is living a lie, sworn to secrecy and hamstrung by a promise. Cassia’s fey, artistic character and magical body possess his imagination and his heart. Can he convince her to trust him long enough to save the crumbling remains of their relationship?
There’s a longer excerpt here but this was the original Pearl Beach part of the story.
From his vantage point high on the cliff top, Jake could see Cassia across the beach, paddling through the shallow water as though she didn’t have a care in the world, bending occasionally to collect fragments from the sand. The cold water didn’t seem to bother her. She held her shoes in her hand as she danced through the shallows. He smiled at the picture she made, the sun silhouetting her long legs through her flimsy, bohemian skirt.
A large wave surged up the beach, and Cassia was unexpectedly knee-deep in the foam. She tipped her head back, and her flaxen hair cascaded down her back. He laughed aloud as she skipped away from the tide line then turned back to the ocean.
Counting the waves.
She was the only person he knew who followed the ridiculous belief that the seventh wave was always the biggest.
Cassia! Welcome home.
Buy links –
Lurking in the back of Téa’s brain somewhere was the knowledge she would one day write a novel. It probably started with a rather risqué story in the back of an exercise book at boarding school and featured the long suffering school gardener - not really the stuff romantic heroes were made of but it was before she knew any better.
Life and few heroes of her own showed her the error of her ways and with a baby under one arm, a husband and a half built house she entered a Mills and Boon competition. To her absolute earth shattering amazement she won second place – the prize was a bottle of perfume! Next time she determined she would do better.
But it was still the stuff of fantasy and her family, a herd of alpacas, a protea farm and teaching intervened until one day she decided it was time to do or die. No more procrastination. The characters and plots that had lived in her head for so long were clamoring to escape.
In August 2011 she got serious and joined Romance Writers Australia, entered the Harlequin Mills & Boon New Voices competition and to her horror discovered she hadn’t been…discovered that is. Not even a bottle of perfume this time. But in reality she had won. With procrastination conquered determination set in. It was time to get serious.
Tree Change is her first contemporary romance novel and is available now. Her second, a historical novel Lily’s Leap - set in Wollombi, the time-warp village she calls home – was accepted by Lyrical Press and will be published in mid 2013. She is currently working on her second Australian historical novel Matilda’s Madness - inspired by some of the fascinating characters haunting the local museum.
When Téa is not in the museum she can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Annie loves sharing her writing chair with special guests! If you'd like a turn...please email her! email@example.com