STAR SO SWEET Blog Tour & Giveaway: A Delicious Finale!

STAR SO SWEET Blog Tour & Giveaway: A Delicious Finale!Stars So Sweet (All Four Stars, #3) by Tara Dairman
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on July 19th 2016
Genres: Middle Grade, Realistic
Pages: 288
Goodreads
five-stars


Joan Bauer meets Ruth Reichl in this charming middle grade foodie series.

As the summer winds down and Gladys Gatsby prepares to start middle school, she is nervous about juggling schoolwork and looming deadlines from her secret job as the New York Standard’s youngest restaurant critic. When her editor pushes for a face-to-face meeting to discuss more opportunities with the paper, Gladys knows she must finally come clean to her parents. But her perfectly planned reveal is put on hold when her parents arrive home with a surprise:  her Aunt Lydia, one of the only adults who knows her secret, fresh off the plane from Paris. Gladys and Aunt Lydia try one last ruse to fool her editor at the Standard, but even with her aunt’s help, Gladys just can’t manage the drama of middle school and a secret life. It’s time for Gladys to be true to herself and honest with her friends and family, regardless of what those around her think.

Gladys Gatsby is back! And this time it’s in the final installment of the ALL FOUR STARS foodie Middle Grade trilogy by Tara Dairman. You know I (and many others) adored the first two books, ALL FOUR STARS and A SUMMER OF STARS. July 19th, 2016 will see the publication of STARS SO SWEET, and let me tell you, you will not disappointed! You can expect more hilarious antics from Gladys and her friends, as well as challenges and adventures that inevitably come her way. Gladys is starting Middle School, and she is also being offered an amazing new opportunity at her top secret job for The New York Standard as a restaurant reviewer. The surprise arrival of a family member also has Gladys working on yet another project, and then you might remember the famous Hamilton from A SUMMER OF STARS. I won’t give too much away, but it’s possible the child literary star also makes an appearance. To sum up, you can expect more mouthwatering treats from Gladys as well as her creative and interesting attempts to navigate various foodie scrapes and challenges.

Now onto some of the highlights of this Middle Grade treat.

What I Loved

-Gladys’s passion for cooking and all things foodie is front and center in the narrative, as it has been in the last two books.

-Her diverse group of friends and their differing personalities and quirks are part of the action as welll—you’ll find appearances by Parm, Charissa, and Sandy. I assure you—you’ll definitely be laughing throughout the book, just as you probably were with the first two.

-The story features different cuisines and ingredients some readers may have never heard of before! Whether Gladys is browsing Mr. Eng’s specialty food shop or creating Salvadoran pancakes, she is sure to introduce readers to something new in the culinary world. At one point Gladys, Aunt Lydia, and Charissa attend a foodie trade show and sample foods such as biltong (South African beef jerky), antelope meats, yak meat, and even horse-meat bites!

-The rich themes of friendship and becoming comfortable in your own identity (something that can be quite challenging in Middle School) are appreciated and embedded in the narrative without being preachy. I love the way Tara illuminates important and relevant aspects of friendship in her storyline.

-The resolution of all the loose ends, especially regarding Gladys’s top secret job of restaurant reviewer for The New York Standard. The conclusion of STARS SO SWEET is stunning, and everything I had hoped for in the ending to this fantastic trilogy. I know this series will continue to be a popular one in my school library. I already have many students who have been waiting avidly for the last installment in the series. It’s true: Young readers love these foodie books!

-I always love the fact that each chapter features its own title. I especially enjoy that Chapter 21 is called “Irrational Doughnuts.”

Some Foodie Connections

-Gladys receives an assignment from her job: Distinguish between Salvadoran, Peruvian, and Cuban food by visiting restaurants with these cuisines. I decided to bring a few links for you to check out, so that you can do your own investigation of these three different cuisines.

10 FOODS FROM EL SALVADOR YOU NEED TO TRY RIGHT NOW: http://www.theflama.com/10-foods-from-el-salvador-you-need-to-try-right-now-1592974846.html

ESSENTIAL PERU: 10 MUST-EAT DISHES TO SEEK OUT: http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/06/essential-peruvian-cuisine.html

9 DISHES TO MAKE YOU FALL FOR CUBAN CUISINE: http://www.saveur.com/article/-/Cuban-Recipes

FINALLY

I can imagine that yet another reason you would want to purchase the book once it’s out in the world on July 19th is that the cover is as gorgeous as its predecessors and that the trilogy presented together on the bookshelf will be absolutely stunning.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 8.52.46 PM

I’m in denial that this is the last installment of Gladys’s adventures, and I’m hoping that one day maybe we’ll get another book….or a novella, even. I just don’t want to say goodbye…

GIVEAWAY TIME!

Would you like to win a complete set of the ALL FOUR STARS books? I’m running a giveaway, courtesy of Penguin, and one winner (USA only) will receive a complete set of the trilogy. To enter, all you have to do is leave a thoughtful comment about why you are excited to read STARS SO SWEET (or any of the other All Four Stars books)!

If you missed my first interview with Tara, you can explore it here. Also, if you aren’t familiar with All Four Stars, you can read about that here. My thoughts on the second book, The Stars of Summer, can be found here.

REVIEWS OF TARA’S BOOKS

ALL FOUR STARS (Putnam/Penguin, 2014)

*An Amazon Best Book of the Month*

 

THE STARS OF SUMMER (Putnam/Penguin, 2015)

“Hilarious.” – School Library Journal

 

STARS SO SWEET (Putnam/Penguin, coming 7.19.16)

“A tasty dish that series fans should eat up.” -Kirkus

Tara Dairman’s Bio

Tara Dairman is the author of the middle-grade foodie novel ALL FOUR STARS (Putnam/Penguin) which was named an Amazon Best Book of the Month and won a 2015 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award. THE STARS OF SUMMER followed in 2015, and STARS SO SWEET (6/19/16) completes the series. Tara grew up in New York and holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College. After surviving the world’s longest honeymoon (two years, seventy-four countries!), she now lives in Colorado with her family.

Tara Dairman headshot

Links to Find Tara

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Are you excited about STARS SO SWEET? What are some of your favorite memories of Gladys from the first two books?

five-stars
What Katie Read

Love, Lucy Blog Tour & Giveaway (Review + Favorite Quotes)

Love, Lucy by April Lindner
on January 27th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Goodreads
four-stars

While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food...and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her "vacation flirtation." But just because summer is over doesn't mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too.

In this coming-of-age romance, April Lindner perfectly captures the highs and lows of a summer love that might just be meant to last beyond the season.

LOVE LUCY banner

Welcome to my Tour Stop on the Love, Lucy Book Tour! (Click the link to see the full schedule!) Step into Italy as you get to know April Lindner’s new book a little more (don’t worry–no spoilers ahead). Also, you can win a hardcover copy of the new book–a Rafflecopter is below!

For the Travel Lover:

Reading about Lucy’s solitary adventures in Florence reminds me of my recent first trip to Florence, as I was there by myself. I love the way Lindner has portrayed Lucy’s ventures into the city as I felt transported to the city myself. The way that Lucy just decides to wander, without really consulting her map is something I think travelers often find themselves doing in Italy. It just seems that kind of county, and Florence is that kind of city.

Lucy’s decision to venture off by herself in the city positions her for something extraordinary, and I think that’s one reason why so many of us appreciate traveling alone. By traveling alone, you are poised for adventure!

“Because she couldn’t stand alone on a street corner forever, Lucy picked a direction as random and took it. I might as well do whatever makes me happy, she told herself, though happy wasn’t exactly the word for how she was feeling.”

I like that Lindner portrays what can happen when traveling with a friend for a long period of time. There’s bound to be disagreements and bumps along the way, and these can be navigated, but it can take work. Lucy and Charlene certainly have some issues during their time in Italy, and Charlene’s grumpy mood makes things difficult, especially when Lucy finds herself wanting to spend time with Jesse.

The story also, obviously, highlights how easy it is to meet new people. When you’re traveling in an unfamiliar city and you don’t know many people, you are more apt to connect with those like yourself. Though Jesse is working in Florence and is more confident in his knowledge of the area, he’s an American, like Lucy. He’s also a musician and can connect with her passion for the theater and performance. Lucy’s father urges Lucy to pursue studies in business and move away from her acting, and this is something Lucy has to navigate throughout the story.

You’ll love the descriptions of Florence and Lucy’s adventures—but be warned, the second half of the book takes place back in the states, in Philadelphia. Of course, Lucy has to return to start college, and Jesse remains in Italy. The summer fling is over. Or is it? You’ll have to pick up the book yourself to find out what happens between Lucy and Jesse.

For the E.M. Forster Lover:

A Room with a View spinoff?? Yes, please! I love Room with a View and frequently re-read it. In fact, I took it with me during my first trip to Florence and did not regret that decision.

You’ll see many traces of A Room with a View in this story—the situation at the beginning of the book when Lucy and Charlene want to switch to a room with a view. The names of the characters. The kiss in Fiesole!

I share a few quotes from A Room with a View to get you excited about ITALY!

florence pizzalJocVQ_pm

room with a view 194008_e5ccVQ_pm

Final Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this one!

At the same time, Lucy and Jesse’s relationship seemed a bit rushed in the beginning of the book. However, this is a summer Europe trip, and Lucy’s young—so “falling in love” while in Florence with the street musician who shows her the town—well, you can see this would be appealing.

The “Charlotte” in me from Room with a View had a little trepidation when Jesse invites Lucy to go with him to Rome. Now, if it was Paul from Room with a View, I might be ok with it. But this isn’t Paul. Though, he doesn’t say much in the beginning of his relationship with Lucy—and that is similar to Paul from Room with a View. But later on the two start performing together—Jesse plays and Lucy sings…and things pick up.

I enjoyed the way Lindner played around with the plot and themes from E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View in this Contemporary YA. I appreciated the book being split between the two countries, and its depiction of Lucy’s working through giving up her dream of becoming an actress, and then starting to play with it again.

I haven’t read any of April Lindner’s other books, though I’ve had them on my list for awhile. It’s time to change that by taking a look at her Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights retellings.

I’m definitely ready to return to Florence for another trip soon. Gelato, espresso, and the Duomo are calling my name!

More Favorite Quotes:

“Up ahead, the buildings fell away, and Lucy’s pulse quickened. Without meaning to, she’s made it all the way to the Arno, the river she’d seen in so many pictures of Florence.”

“Something sprang in Lucy’s heart, like a window flung wide on the first warm day of spring.”

“The world would turn, the bus would move, and twenty-four hours later she would be on a train speeding away from him, but at least they had this moment.”

BOOK LINKS:

Goodreads
Amazon paperback
Barnes & Noble (B&N)
Bookdepository
iTunes

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

love lucy high res author photo

April Lindner is the author of three novels: Catherine, a modernization of Wuthering Heights; Jane, an update of Jane Eyre; and Love, Lucy, due out in January, 2015. She also has published two poetry collections, Skin and This Bed Our Bodies Shaped. She plays acoustic guitar badly, sees more rock concerts than she’d care to admit, travels whenever she can, cooks Italian food, and lavishes attention on her pets—two Labrador retriever mixes and two excitable guinea pigs. A professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University, April lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons.

AUTHOR LINKS:

Website: http://aprillindnerwrites.blogspot.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/119005.April_Lindner
Twitter: https://twitter.com/misadventure123
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/april.lindner
Tumblr: http://aprillindner.tumblr.com/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/110633613315102244487/posts

GIVEAWAY
Details: Win (1) of (5) hardcopies of Love, Lucy by April Lindner (US Only)

Start: March 30th, 2015
End: April 7th, 2015

a Rafflecopter giveaway

four-stars
What Katie Read

Review & Giveaway: Cruel Summer by K.R. Conway (YA Bound Book Tour)

Review & Giveaway: Cruel Summer by K.R. Conway (YA Bound Book Tour)Cruel Summer by K. R. Conway
on March 16th 2015
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 231
four-stars

Kian O’Reilly is flawless as a killer. Well-practiced in the art of making murder look like an accident, he is selfish, wealthy, and totally arrogant as a soul-stealing immortal. But when he ends up stranded on Cape Cod with a stolen car and a dead drug dealer in the trunk, he thinks his luck couldn’t get any worse. That is, until Ana Lane shows up.

Gifted as a mechanic and surfer, feisty Ana is not a fan of the entitled Frat Boys who show up every summer, messing with local girls. Believing Kian is one of those typical rich brats, she fixes his car and ruthlessly dismantles his cocky ego . . . which intrigues the dangerous soul thief.

Determined to spend more time with the prickly mechanic, Kian sets out to understand what makes Ana so fierce. Soon, however, he uncovers the painful truth behind the real Ana Lane, and the decision to save her, may destroy them both.

Welcome to my stop on the Cruel Summer blog tour, hosted by YA Bound Book Tours! You can find the complete tour schedule here. There’s also a giveaway for the book at the end of this post, so be sure to enter.

Cruel Summer is a novella, written as a prequel to Undertow and Stormfront. However, it’s recommended that you read Undertow and Stormfront first. Cruel Summer is a standalone, so you can technically read it before those two, but because there may be a few spoilers (nothing too dramatic), I would recommend at least reading Undertow first.

Not only am I lucky enough to have met the author, K.R. Conway, but I very recently attended a YA panel that included Conway, Trisha Leaver, and A.C. Gaughen, among others. It was fantastic to see all these ladies together in a “Girl Power” panel at a library.

I loved Undertow (here’s my REVIEW), though I’m not a big urban fantasy fan, so when I saw the sign-ups for the Cruel Summer blog tour, I jumped on the bandwagon.

Illuminations:

First things first. I love all the references to REAL places on Cape Cod in the book! Whether it’s an ice cream shop or diner, you’ll enjoy the various locations and eateries the characters frequent. Conway specifically included the names of real places, and this is wonderful advertising for local businesses. I heard her say recently that you can actually have the people at some of these spots sign your book. How cool is that?

Cruel Summer starts off with a bang.

A body hidden in the trunk of a very expensive car procured by Kian himself. We open with Kian’s perspective—a character in Undertow as well. In Undertow we don’t really get Kian’s point of view, so featuring it in this novella allows readers to get to know Kian more. He is not human. He is a mortis, and that means that he can be very dangerous. But at the same time, readers will probably fall in love with Kian.

In the beginning of the book, Kian meets Ana, a tough mechanic with violet-streaked hair who is not to be messed with, and is unimpressed by Kian’s wealth and looks (though she soon realizes that she’s attracted to him). Ana has her own challenges to deal with—she’s got an abusive alcoholic father, and her friend MJ who works at an ice cream shop is probably the only friend that knows the truth of Ana’s situation. Until Kian finds out. And then things get pretty complicated.

What I found interesting is that not only is Kian a fascinating character as a soul-thief, and about 182 years old, but Ana has her own special abilities. She can read emotions. She senses something a bit off about Kian, but isn’t able to actually “read” him. I won’t give anything away, but the buildup to the reveal maintains a healthy pace to the narrative.

I really appreciated the switching of perspectives in this story–it didn’t feel disjointed. Rather, I enjoyed reading both Kian’s and Ana’s side of the story.

The dialogue and interaction between the two enriches the story by making you, the reader, want the two to acknowledge their feelings for each other. There are a few roadblocks to this happening. For example, Kian ends up staying the summer on the cape, but it’s much to the dismay of Ana, who doesn’t want to cultivate her feelings for this new friend. But as we all know, that isn’t necessarily going to stop these two from growing closer.

Who Should Read This Book:

If you like urban fantasy, are intrigued by the idea of killer humans with supernatural strength who feed on the souls of people, and want a quick read set on Cape Cod, this one is for you. If you read Undertow and/or Stormfront, I think you’ll be interested in knowing more about Kian and Ana, before they make their appearance in the other books. I really appreciated getting their perspectives—often you enjoy a book, but you wonder what was going on inside the head of those secondary characters. With Cruel Summer, I don’t have to wonder anymore—at least in terms of these characters’ back stories.

The Final Illumination:

Witty dialogue, a Cape Cod summer setting, killer soul thieves, and mystery are all dimensions of this story that had me turning the pages late into the night. I haven’t read Stormfront yet, but since Undertow ended on a kind of cliffhanger, that’s something I plan to get to soon.

I can imagine Conway’s series is popular with young adult readers–in Undertow she references the perils of high school and I can imagine Cape Cod teens would be very interested in Cruel Summer with its vivid shore settings and nods to local businesses and hang out spots.

Kian and Ana may not play center stage in the other two books, but I think getting their backstories and perspectives adds to the depth of a series that is sure to delight fans of urban fantasy, hungering for a bit of the paranormal by the shore.

“Dad used to say that the night sky was truly endless when you were out at sea. He said that when the water was dead calm and the moon was hiding beneath the curve of earth, it felt as though he was actually floating in space. On the blackest of nights, he said you couldn’t see where the ocean stopped and the universe began and suddenly you were one with the stars. On those night, you became your own constellation and a mere speck in a galaxy so vast, that no one else existed.”

** This is the prequel novella to UNDERTOW and is based on the story of Kian and Ana the summer they met. While it can be read at anytime in the series, it is meant to be read after UNDERTOW and STORMFRONT.** 

Add to Goodreads

Links for Undertow (Book One):

GoodreadsAmazon

Links for Stormfront (Book Two):

GoodreadsAmazon

 kr conway

About the Author

I have been a journalist for 15 years and serve on the Board of Directors for the Cape Cod Writers Center. I also drive a 16-ton school bus because I am ENTIRELY NUTS.

In addition to working jobs that should come with a warning label , I hold a BA in Psychos (Forensic Psych), torment the tourists about Jaws, and occasionally jump from the Town Neck bridge in an attempt to reclaim my youth.

I live on Cape Cod with two smallish humans who apparently are my kids, my fishing-obsessed husband, two canines (adept at both flatulence and snoring), and a cage-defiant lovebird that sleeps in a miniature tent. Nope – that’s not a type-o. The bird is quite the indoor camper.

Author Links:

WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook

Book Tour Organized by:

YA Bound Book Tours

Now for the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

four-stars
What Katie Read

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman Blog Tour: Caramel Walnut Brownie Recipe & Giveaway!

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman Blog Tour: Caramel Walnut Brownie Recipe & Giveaway!Genres: Middle Grade, Realistic

Welcome to the July 4th stop of The Midnight Garden’s All Four Stars Blog Tour!

It’s time to celebrate the upcoming release of the fantastic middle grade novel, All Four Stars…with a brownie recipe.

Calling all bakers and aspiring bakers!

When I saw All Four Stars on the list of upcoming releases for 2014, I was beyond excited. Three of my passions were combined in one book: cooking, baking, and writing! What a fantastic premise—a twelve year old chef and foodie accidentally lands a job writing a restaurant review for a prestigious newspaper. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to read the book.

The meals, recipes, and cooking adventures detailed in the story made my mouth water, and led me to brainstorm a baking-related tour stop for The Midnight Garden’s Blog Tour! After much thought and deliberation, I decided to pursue the perfect recipe for the caramel walnut brownies that Gladys’s neighbor, Mrs. Anderson bakes. Mrs. Anderson is known for her “experimental brownies” and gives one to Gladys, though Gladys “never had the heart to tell Mrs. Anderson that she didn’t really like walnuts.” Gladys gives her brownie to a classmate the next day at lunch:

“You want it?” Gladys said, holding out the brownie.

Charissa took it right away, of course, without protesting, proposing a trade, or even saying thank you…Charissa held the brownie at arm’s length. She was shaking…

“Oh my God,” Charissa said, her eyes wide with disbelief.

“This brownie..this brownie…” The cafeteria table was dead silent; all eyes were on them…

“This brownie is…AMAZING!!”

brownie 1

DSC_0246I decided to bake my own caramel walnut brownies, but I also made a batch without the walnuts—and hoped that Gladys would approve. For the recipe, I went straight to the professionals because there was a brownie recipe I was dying to try from an amazing cookbook: Baked Elements by Matt Lewis, Renato Poliafito (Photography by Tina Rupp).  I think Lewis & Poliafito really have the best brownie recipe, and you can actually visit their bakery in Brooklyn. Their brownie recipe doesn’t have the caramel walnut glaze or the two tablespoons of boiling water I added, but the rest of the recipe is theirs. I would strongly recommend buying their cookbook–you won’t regret it. There is an amazing recipe for Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls that you should try next!

Gladys: “I’ve made 142 recipes from twelve different cookbooks,” she cried, “and they all turned out fine!”

IMG_5887

(I didn’t have to use my stand mixer for this, but thought it looks lovely next to the cookbook.)

Their Spicy Brownie recipe includes ancho chile powder to deliver a gorgeous spicy dimension to a perfect fudgy brownie. Think ancho chile powder is hard to find? Not really. You can find it at World Market as well as other grocery stores. In a pinch, you could probably use cayenne pepper, but I would recommend using about half of the ancho chile powder amount.

More research found me a simple recipe for a caramel walnut glaze that I thought would be the perfect finish. These spicy brownies could certainly go without them, if you wanted to omit the caramel and walnuts. The truth is—I made these brownies once in California, and then I made them while on holiday on Cape Cod. I actually liked the once with bigger chunks of walnuts, surprisingly. I’m in love with these brownies! Look at that amazing fudgy-ness.

DSC_0235

These actually aren’t THAT spicy and those who are expecting more of a kick could be disappointed. What they do deliver is a smoky and warm flavor that I think pairs perfectly with the caramel and walnuts. The Baked authors had originally used a chipotle powder in these spicy brownies, but felt this was a bit much, and so opted for something a little less spicy. My taste testers were not disappointed—I received raving reviews of these brownies for days.

A few important notes on this recipe:

-Make sure your eggs are room temperature! Don’t skip this step.

-The recipe asks you to grate your cinnamon, but in a pinch, it was fine for me to use the cinnamon I already had in my spice cupboard.

-Don’t overmix the brownies!! This is crucial to their wonderful fudgy texture. Fold everything together at the end just until combined.

IMG_6001IMG_6003

 

Mrs. Anderson’s Aztec Brownies with Caramel Walnut Glaze

(The Baked Spicy Brownie with Caramel Walnut Glaze)

Adapted slightly from the Spicy Brownies Recipe in Baked Elements: The Importance of Being Baked in 10 Favorite Ingredients by Matt Lewis, Renato Poliafato, Tina Rupp (Photographer) [2012, by Stewart, Tabori, & Chang]

Makes: 12 large or 24 small brownies

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons freshly grated cinnamon (or from your spice rack)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger OR 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
8 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped
2 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons of boiling water (from bottom double boiler pan)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature (very important to have the eggs at room temperature!)

Caramel Walnut Glaze

14 unwrapped caramels

¼ cup heavy cream

1/2 to 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (depending on how much walnut-ness you desire)

Making the Brownies

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Take a 9 by 13 inch glass or light colored metal baking pan and butter the bottom and sides. Then, line the pan with parchment paper and butter the parchment.

2. Next, get a medium bowl, and whisk the flour, cocoa powder, chile powder, cinnamon, salt, and ginger. Set that aside.

3. Now, you need to melt the butter and chocolate. You can construct your own double boiler on the stove by filling a pot about halfway with water, and then placing a glass bowl or another pot over that one. It’s really easy! Check out this link for more info. Once you get the water boiling, you can place your butter and chocolates in the top bowl. Stir occasionally until everything is melted and combined nicely! Now, turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water. **If you want to add my magic mishap [see description below] into the recipe, take two tablespoons of the boiling water and add it to the chocolate/butter mixture. Then, add both the white sugar and the brown sugar and whisk until they are combined. You need to wait a little now, while the bowl comes to room temperature, but remove it from above the water.

4. Add 3 of your room temperature eggs, and mix it until everything comes together nicely. Don’t overmix! Add the last 2 eggs and do the same–mix until just combined.

5. Now you can add the flour mixture to the batter and fold the flour mixture in with a spatula. It’s very important that you don’t overmix here—once you see the last of the flour disappear…stop!

6. Pour the brownie batter into your prepared pan with the parchment.

7. Bake for 30 minutes in your preheated oven, but set your timer for 15 minutes and rotate the pan halfway.

You’ll need to check to see that the brownies are finished by using a toothpick. You should only see a few crumbs on the toothpick to make sure the brownies are done. Let them cool now and transfer to a wire rack.

Once the brownies are cool, you can make the glaze.

8. Chop about ½ to 1 cup of walnuts—it’s up to you depending on how many walnuts you like on your brownie. You can preheat the oven to 350 degrees and toast the walnuts for about 8 minutes first, if you prefer. Or, skip this step, if you’re pressed for time.

9. Unwrap your 14 caramels and place in a bowl that you can microwave, or in a pot on the stove.

10. Add ¼ cup of the heavy cream and stir everything as it melts. I melted the caramel and cream on the stove, and this worked out just fine. You just want to make sure you keep an eye on the mixture and turn off the heat as soon as everything is combined.

11. You can drizzle some caramel on the brownies first, and then top with the walnuts. Or you can sprinkle the walnuts, and then pour the caramel over.

IMG_6011

Cut into squares and enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee. And be sure to read ALL FOUR STARS, out JULY 10TH from Putnam!

BONUS: *My Baking Mishap*

No, it wasn’t as destructive as Gladys’s experience making crème brulee, but since I didn’t have a double boiler to melt the butter and the chocolate, I constructed my own. My pots weren’t the right size, though, and as I was stirring my chocolate and butter for these brownies (and they were melting very nicely), my top pot slipped and tipped into the water below it! That gave me a start, but I quickly righted the pot, and surveyed the damage. Had any water gone into the chocolate and butter? How would that affect the final product? I had no choice but to press on—time was of the essence!

The fact is, that some of the water had gone into my chocolate and butter, a few tablespoons, by my estimation. But….the texture and taste of the brownies was so amazing, that I really couldn’t say if it damaged the recipe at all. In fact, I thought the finished brownie was so perfect, that I think I may have to suggest adding a tiny bit of boiling water to the chocolate and butter mixture, in case there was a bit of magic in my mishap.

Should I be berated for this? Maybe. But I think Gladys would show me grace. And I certainly hope she would appreciate the brownies, minus the walnuts, of course.

Win a copy of All Four Stars!

Thanks to Putnam, there are 8 finished copies of this lovely book to give away throughout the blog tour. Visit each stop to earn extra points, or you can also tweet, pin, etc.

Open to U.S. and Canadian residents aged 18 or older, or 13 or older with parental permission. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to visit the blog again on Monday for a special interview with author, TARA DAIRMAN!

All Four Stars Tour Schedule
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the All Four Stars Blog Tour! There are fantastic posts, excerpts, recipes, and giveaways at each stop.

Tuesday, July 1st              The Midnight Garden
Wednesday, July 2nd        The Reading Date
Thursday, July 3rd            For What It’s Worth
Friday, July 4th                 The Spirit of Children’s Literature
                                           A Baked Creation
Monday, July 7th              Xpresso Reads
Tuesday, July 8th             For the Love of Words
Wednesday, July 9th        Finding Bliss in Books
Thursday, July 10th          Candace’s Book Blog

Where to buy the book links:

BON APPETIT & HAPPY READING!

TMG blog tours

 

What Katie Read