My guest today is my friend Beth Cato, not only a writer, but baker extraordinaire! I will tell you here that I’ve already read her first two novels (the first of which will be coming out next week) and I promise if you give them a try, you’ll be hooked.
Take it away, Beth!
My debut novel, THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER, comes out September 16th from Harper Voyager. It’s a steampunk novel with airships, espionage, and a world tree that seriously plays favorites. Here’s the back cover summary:
Orphaned as a child, Octavia Leander was doomed to grow up on the streets until Miss Percival saved her and taught her to become a medician. Gifted with incredible powers, the young healer is about to embark on her first mission, visiting suffering cities in the far reaches of the war-scarred realm. But the airship on which she is traveling is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing occurrences, including murder, and Octavia herself is threatened.
Suddenly, she is caught up in a flurry of intrigue: the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Daggers—the Queen’s spies and assassins—and her cabin-mate harbors disturbing secrets. But the danger is only beginning, for Octavia discovers that the deadly conspiracy aboard the airship may reach the crown itself.
Now, on to the shortbread!
I’m an author, but I’m also somewhat infamous for my baking. Every Wednesday over at my site, I post a new recipe in my Bready or Not series.
This shortbread is the ultimate in writers’ fuel, as it features espresso and chocolate together in bite-size cookie form. Drink it with coffee, milk, or tea, or stuff your face in it, Cookie Monster-style, to cope with a day of rejection. It’s delicious no matter how to take it.
Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread
Modified from Use Real Butter.
1 tbsp instant espresso powder
1 tbsp boiling water
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces of chocolate, finely chopped OR 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
1) Dissolve espresso powder in boiling water. Set aside to cool to tepid.
2) Beat butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in vanilla and espresso, then reduce mixer speed to low and add flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t overwork the dough. Fold in the chocolate with a sturdy spatula.
3) Using the spatula, transfer dough to a gallon-size zip-loc bag. Put bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.
4) Preheat the oven to 325°F.
5) Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets.
6) Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. The shortbread will be very pale. Transfer the cookies to a rack. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving. Makes about 3 dozen.
OM NOM NOM!
Beth Cato’s the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER, a steampunk fantasy novel from Harper Voyager. Her short fiction is in InterGalactic Medicine Show, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Daily Science Fiction. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat.