Thank you everyone who entered my $50 gift certificate giveaway. I just picked the winner using a random number generator, and it’s Caroline T. Caroline, I’ve emailed you your gift certificate 🙂
When I came to plot out Asteria, there was a reason why I wanted to write about a royal instead of the more usual billionaire CEO. There’s some of me musing on this, royal families in general, the press, and another chance to win a Kindle Paperwhite, over at Deep in the Heart of Romance blog today.
The lovely Anna Dase over at Reading Between the Lines has interviewed me, covering Asteria, writing and life in general. We both agree that the world needs more vodka bars. There’s an exclusive giveaway over there, where you can win one of five bundles, each bundle containing a copy ‘The Elf Princess’s Lover’ and a copy of ‘Music’.
Today’s the first day of my Insatiable Reads book tour. For my first (ever!) guest post, I’ve written an exclusive piece over on Belle’s Book Bag that’s set during Asteria but that you won’t find in the book – or anywhere else! It’s a phone conversation between my heroine, Lucy, and her best friend Gwen as Lucy phones home for advice, with tales of her gorgeous, dominant prince and steamy goings-on in a casino.
On ALL of the guest posts this week, you’ll be able to enter the main Insatiable Reads giveaway to win a Kindle Paperwhite pre-loaded with books, or a whole bundle of paperbacks! Just follow the links from the guest posts. There are also individual giveaways on some of the posts: today, you can win a $20 Amazon gift certificate on the Belle’s Book Bag post above!
To mark the start of the tour, I have also dropped the price of Asteria to $0.99 for twenty-four hours only (normal price $5.99) on Amazon. Get in fast if you want a copy!
Thanks to everyone who commented. The giveaway prizes have been awarded and comments are now closed. Stop back over the next week for lots of guest posts and the awesome Insatiable Reads giveaway in which you can win a Kindle Paperwhite pre-loaded with 16 books!
A special post today, as part of the Rites of Spring Blog Hop. You can find lots of other cool articles over the next few days by using the links at the bottom of this post.
I have two giveaways for you. First of all there’s the big giveaway for the blog hop itself. This has as its grand prize a Kindle Fire and as its runner-up prize a $50 Amazon gift certificate! Then there’s a giveaway from me: I have three copies of The Elf Princess’s Lover (Kindle version) to give away. To enter both giveaways, just leave a comment below with your email address (without that, I can’t contact you if you win my giveaway!) AND then use the Rafflecopter widget below to let the blog tour organizers know that you’ve commented.
A Little About Asteria, my new novel…
UN translator Lucy Snow sneaks into an embassy party and meets Prince Jagor, heir to the throne of the fabulously rich kingdom of Asteria. Their initial steamy kiss isn’t enough for the prince: he offers her a job as his personal aide and in the glamorous hotels and casinos of Monaco, they engage in a secret love affair.
But in Asteria, women are ‘owned’ by their men, both in and out of the bedroom. Loving Jagor will mean accepting his collar…and his every command.
Lucy must overcome the Queen, the media and the will of the Asterian people if she’s to be accepted as Jagor’s bride. And when the royal family is plunged into danger, Lucy must become stronger than she ever dreamed…
In this blog hop, the idea is to talk about a first for one of our characters. I thought about choosing Jagor and Lucy’s first kiss, or the first time they had sex. I thought about highlighting the BDSM aspects of the book with the first time Lucy wore a collar, or going with a steamy extract and doing the first time Lucy dares to try…nah, you’re going to have to read the book 😉
Eventually, though, I settled on this. It’s a scene from chapter 15, in which Lucy and Jagor make their first public appearance in Asteria as prince and Exkella (princess-to-be). I picked it because, for Lucy, it represents a dramatic shift from her normal life. She’s always been shy, burying herself in the depths of the UN, head down and headphones on. When she begins her secret romance with the prince, her life changes: but at least the secrecy means she’s seen as ‘only’ a royal aide and not subject to media scrutiny. When Jagor and Lucy go public with their relationship, though, she finds herself at the center of a media storm: everyone wants to know about the American plucked from obscurity: the woman who’ll be their next princess. All this while she’s struggling to come to terms with the ways of Asteria itself: and trying to deal with the ultimate mother-in-law from hell: the Queen.
The photos of us in Paris had been gradually appearing on gossip sites and in newspapers over the last week. Ismelda had put out a carefully worded statement that confirmed that the Prince was engaged to an American woman. A separate statement confirmed that he was no longer seeing Calara: the exact timings were left vague. I’d been surprised there weren’t more questions about the overlap: in America, the press would have mercilessly scrutinized every detail.
“Our press is a little different,” Jagor told me, looking almost ashamed. “The royal family has a greater degree of influence than in some countries.”
“Meaning you control the press?” I’d always believed in a free press. Now I was scared enough that total control seemed very appealing.
“More like they try not to offend us. It’s not always a good thing: it can make it difficult to judge things, sometimes, when we have no real feedback. The foreign press can be useful for that: we have no control over them.”
Great. It was going to be open season in all the newspapers back home.
Ismelda gathered us together, the King joining us at the last moment. She showed us into an old, stone-floored room with a large balcony at one end.
“You’ll be on view from about halfway down the room,” she murmured in my ear. “Stand tall and stay close to Jagor: keep an arm around his waist. Big smiles.”
We walked in a line: The Queen, the King, myself and then Jagor. Just before we reached the halfway point, Ismelda whispered “Relax!” in my ear and then stopped, remaining out of sight while we walked on.
Jagor was taller than me, so he saw it first and I heard him draw in his breath. Then I was close enough to see over the parapet myself and I felt my mouth drop open.
We were perhaps four stories up, looking out of the front of the palace. Beyond the canyon that separated the palace from the city, a crowd stretched back at least as far as the first cross-street and filled our view left to right. There must have been twenty or thirty thousand people. Ismelda had done a very good job spreading the word that the Exkella would appear. Terrifyingly, they were there for me.
“Wave,” the King said helpfully – if he hadn’t, I think I would have just stood there, open-mouthed.
I waved, copying their practiced, lazy motion. Running through my head was I can’t do this, I can’t do this.
The crowd cheered; a wave of sound that rose up towards us. Jagor pulled me a little closer and they seemed to like that, too. Then he turned me and I realized he was going to kiss me.
A kiss? Is a kiss on the agenda? What sort of kiss? How sexy should we make it? We’d done it before at the Louvre, but this was different. Twenty shining camera lenses just felt intimidating. Twenty thousand watching faces was terrifying.
My fear lasted until I felt his lips on mine, and then as my eyes closed, the sound of the crowd seemed to die away and there was only Jagor, our lips moving slowly, his arms sliding around my waist and pulling me in. When we surfaced, the crowd were roaring. I waved again, dazed, and we were walking away.
Was that it? I wondered, did they stand in line and wait for hours just to see that? I felt like a cheat.
Want more? The full-length, 108,000 word novel is out now at all good ebook retailers (also available in paperback at Amazon).
Please leave a comment below so I know you stopped by. Would you put up with being the center of attention, if it was the only way you could be with the man you loved?
Don’t forget your email address and don’t forget to use the Rafflecopter widget to confirm that you’ve entered.
Update: Thank you everyone for your comments! I’ve picked the winners and sent the gifts out. Comments are now closed. See you again for the ‘Rites of Spring’ blog hop in a few days!
As part of the Lucky in Love Blog Hop (organized by the awesome Carrie Ann) here’s a special post about love, luck and Lucy. I have two giveaways for you: there’s a big giveaway as part of the hop that includes prizes of a $100 Amazon or B&N Gift Card and a Swag Pack of paperbacks, ebooks, 50+ bookmarks, cover flats, magnets, pens, coffee cozies and more! The swag bag’s only available to US readers, I’m afraid, due to the cost of shipping it, but the gift card is up for grabs internationally). Then I have my own giveaway: I have three copies of Music, my 5-star rated erotic romance, to give away (available on all popular electronic formats – I’ll contact you after the hop if you win). That too is open internationally, to anyone over 18. To enter BOTH giveaways, all you have to do is comment below and include your email address.
Save for pure, dumb luck, Lucy and Jagor would never meet.
Let’s go through the list, shall we? First of all, he’s a prince. The only people he mixes with are royalty, the very cream of Asterian society and a few foreign politicians. He doesn’t hang around coffee shops where he might just happen to bump into my heroine, Lucy. Should he require a Starbucks, his motorcade stops and one of his assistants brings him one. Queuing up to sprinkle vanilla on your latte simply isn’t done when you’re a prince.
Secondly, he lives in a tiny Central European state. When he does want to indulge in the playboy lifestyle – which he does, often – you’ll find him in the Monte Carlo casino, or in Paris. All thousands of miles from New York, where my heroine resides.
Thirdly, Asteria is almost as secretive and isolated as North Korea. Life in the fabulously rich nation is very different to America: women are collared and owned by their men. Outsiders aren’t allowed in and very few Asterians ever leave the country. It’s not like Lucy can arrive as a tourist and meet Jagor on a tour of the palace.
And finally, he’s not looking. Tradition has it that royalty can only marry other royalty – or at least the very top tier of society. He’s not scouring the globe looking for a commoner to marry – and a commoner is what Lucy is.
And yet…and yet they get together despite everything that’s against them. Let me take you on a journey to show you how fate intervenes.
Lucy works as a translator, buried deep in the heart of the UN, headphones on and head down as she transcribes speeches. She’s reluctantly dragged along to an embassy party by her much more outgoing friend Gwen, using a couple of tickets meant for their bosses. They wouldn’t have a hope of getting in, if Lucy hadn’t brought the security guard coffee a few times when he pulled door duty.
Simultaneously, Jagor is on a one-off visit to the UN as he prepares to sign the very first treaties between Asteria and other nations. He’s only in town for one night, flying off the very next day on his private 747. He’s invited to the party at one of the West African embassies by a friend and – never one to turn down a party invitation, attends – just for a few hours.
But all that isn’t enough. Just being at the same party won’t create that magic moment that gets them together. Even if Jagor happened to notice Lucy across a crowded room, Lucy would run and hide. No, we need chaos to lend a hand. We need Louis, a hot guy Gwen’s been chasing, to draw Gwen away. That leaves Lucy alone and distracted: distracted enough to bang into the Belgium ambassador and spill red wine down her dress.
Then she can run upstairs to find a bathroom, and find herself in the off-limits, private area of the embassy. We need the dress to be borrowed, from Gwen, so that she’s so frantic in trying to wash the stain out, stripped to the waist in front of the sink, that she leaves the bathroom door open.
We need Jagor to be stalking the dark corridors at that very moment, like the barely-caged beast that he is. We need him to glance through the open bedroom door, straight into the bathroom, and see the topless Lucy in the mirror.
And when they meet, when he tries to get the measure of this strange and beautiful young woman he’s run into…then we need just one more bit of luck. We need Lucy, languages whizz that she is, to have learned some of the Asterian language. Just enough that, as she’s about to leave the bedroom, she says a few words in apology.
Because that’s when everything changes.
That’s when Jagor realizes he’s met someone much more interesting than a mere translator. He’s met someone he wants to be with: to make love to: to enslave. That’s when he closes the bedroom door…and that’s when everything starts.
We stood there for a second, just looking at each other. I had time to notice things now, like how strong his hands looked. Or the way his pecs curved under his tailored white shirt. Or how the dark shadow of his stubble shone black in the warm light from the bedside lamps: again, I found myself thinking of an animal. If I kissed him, it would brush against me: would it be scratchy? It looked almost soft.
Why was I thinking about kissing him?
It occurred to me that we were both in a very dangerous situation here. Alone in a room with a closed door and the lights romantically low. If anyone should come in, it was going to take a lot of explaining to convince them it was innocent.
Is it innocent? I asked myself. What the hell is going on here?
I was very aware of the closed door, and his possible reasons for closing it.
“I should go,” I said.
He just stared at me, the way a cat will stare at a mouse. My heart was thumping so hard in my chest, I was sure he must be able to hear it.
“I really think I should go.” I tried to say it firmly, but my voice quavered. It wasn’t fear: or if it was fear, it wasn’t him I was scared of.
He gave me another one of those looks. Then he took a step towards me.
All I had to do was walk to the door and leave. Why was that so hard? But my legs felt like concrete, even my arms hanging limply by my sides. He took another step towards me, and now he was close enough that I could smell his aftershave. It was like nothing else I’d ever smelled: not like one of the scents you buy at a store, all alcohol and chemical scent. This was like open spaces and cold, hard rock and the wind: if the outdoors had a smell, this was it.
“I really think….” I trailed off.
He put one huge hand beneath my chin and used the edge of it, very gently, to tilt my face up to his.
“Don’t think,” he said softly. I didn’t realize until afterwards that he’d said it in Asterian, because as soon as he’d said it, he was kissing me.
His lips were warm on mine, sending a jolt of heat rocketing down through my chest, blossoming in the very core of me. His chin was brushing mine, and his stubble grazed me. It was rough, but it felt good. He was bending down slightly to reach me, and I suddenly became aware that I was stretching up to meet him, my lips flowering open. I was kissing him back.
His breath was hot against me as he parted his lips, his tongue greedily seeking mine. It was the first time I’d been kissed in months. His hands were in my hair, stroking through the soft strands, his palms warm against my temples. Little shocks of pleasure were darting down through my body from everywhere he touched me, seeking my groin. He was starting something inside me, something primal and out of control, so strong it scared me.
He broke the kiss and leaned back from me. The loss of his touch was like a physical pain.
“Tell me you want me to stop,” he told me: and he said it in English, not in Asterian, so there was no danger of me misunderstanding.
My chest was heaving: I was panting like I’d been sprinting, my eyes huge and wild, my face flushed. Between my legs, I could feel heat building, turning to wetness. I hadn’t been this turned on in…I wasn’t sure I’d ever been this turned on.
“Tell me you want me to stop,” he said again, and this time I actually took it in. Not “Do you want me to stop?” Not a question. A challenge.
I focused on him, looked into his eyes, so he would know I understood and, with a lurch of my stomach, a flash of what the hell are you doing, Lucy? I kept absolutely quiet.
And then he was kissing me again.
This time his whole body pressed against me. I could feel the hard outlines of his muscles through my dress: his broad, strong chest, his hard leg pressing against my own soft thigh. He was so much bigger than me, towering over me, one arm slipping under my back to support me and – oh God – he was bending me backwards; my back arched, my breasts mashing against his chest. His lips lifted from mine, laying kisses along my neck and a shudder went through me. I felt like I was melting, dissolving into him. I felt like, if he let me go right at that instant, I wouldn’t fall: I’d just float four feet off the floor.
His other hand was on my hip, and the warmth of it, so close to my groin, was making it impossible to think. I was gasping, moaning, my eyes fluttering closed, giving myself up to his touch.
We were spinning slowly around, as if dancing, and then the hard wood of the door pressed against my back. One of his hands thumped into the door next to my face, loud and aggressive, making me jump. He started nibbling and sucking on my upper lip and I groaned at the feeling, my breath coming in hot little gasps.
He slipped one hand under my dress and smoothed over my leg, just above the knee. His tongue was in my mouth again, my head pressed back against the door.
The hand slid up my thigh, higher and higher. He wasn’t exploring, wasn’t hesitant. He was moving very deliberately, and I sensed the only reason he didn’t go straight there was to make me wait.
The heat was building inside me, a dark, twisting power focused right between my thighs. As he kissed me, his chest was rubbing against my breasts through the dress, my nipples throbbing, almost painfully hard. His hand reached my hip and I panted in urgency. Then he started to slide it, very slowly, around to the front—
“Lucy?” Gwen’s voice, not three feet away.
My eyes flew open, my whole body spasming against the door, held tight between it and Jagor’s body. I couldn’t have moved if I’d wanted to.
She was in the corridor, right outside. Jagor was kissing me, preventing any attempt at speech. I didn’t want to speak: I just wanted him to pause for a ‘sec, wait until she’d gone. If she caught us—
And then Jagor’s hand slid all the way around to the front. He cupped my mons through the thin silk of my panties, the warmth of his palm going straight through them, and a quick, high cry escaped me.
A second’s silence from outside. Then, suspiciously, “Luce?”
He stopped kissing me for a moment, but only long enough to smile. Then his lips were on mine again, and suddenly I had to dig my nails hard into my palms to stop myself from crying out, because his hand was slipping under the thin triangle of fabric and sliding down to rest against my moist lips.
He stopped kissing me again, and moved his head back a little. He wants to see my expression! I realized.
Two fingers were rubbing against the softness of my lips and I flushed red, knowing that he could feel how wet I was.
“Lucy?” Gwen’s voice was right outside the door. “Are you in there?”
His fingers pushed inside me, stretching me deliciously around them, and my head lolled back against the door as my back arched. I forced myself to make no sound, even though I wanted to yell, to scream, to bang my fists against the door.
And then his thumb found my clit and circled and I was lost, both hands coming down to clasp his arm: whether to stop him or urge him on, I don’t know. His fingers were moving inside me, his thumb stroking and rubbing and God I was bucking against him, suddenly over the edge, the orgasm ripping through me. Hot explosions were going off in my mind, destroying me, leaving no thought or sensation except what he was doing to me. Gwen was forgotten; the embassy was forgotten; my job was forgotten. All that mattered was him and me.
I could feel myself spasming around his fingers, my thighs clamping hard around his hand. I folded silently at the waist, my head on his chest. He held me under the arm with his free hand, easily supporting my weight: I would have collapsed if he hadn’t.
When the shudders started to subside, I pressed myself back to standing, leaning heavily on his arm. My legs still felt like they could give way at any second. Reality started to slowly creep back, like awakening from a dream.
As if he knew what I was about to do, he gently removed his hands and stepped back.
I grabbed the door handle and wrenched it open, and then I was running down the stairs, heels loud on the polished wood, my heart thundering in my chest.
The full-length novel (108,000 words) is out now at all good ebook retailers – also available in paperback at Amazon.
Check out some of the other awesome posts in the hop: http://carrieannbloghops.
Asteria is now at #73 in its Amazon ‘Hot New Releases’ list. Thank you everyone who’s been buying it!
A feel a glass of red coming on.
Sneak Peek Sunday lets authors share a short extract of their work.
Here’s mine, from my newly-released novel.
She swept in, in a turquoise suit that made even my Parisian wardrobe feel tasteless and ill judged. “Mother,” Jagor greeted her, and moved forward to kiss her on the cheek: she allowed it.
The Queen and I stared at each other. I curtsied: I’d been practicing, as well as checking the etiquette. She let me get halfway through the movement before speaking, as if to deliberately throw me off.
“The last time we met,” she said, “you told me you were my son’s aide and translator.”
I stayed silent, hoping she’d continue…but she wanted me to confirm the lie. “Yes, Your Majesty.” Even as the Exkella, I’d have to address her formally until Jagor and I were married.
“But the entire time you were sleeping with him: correct?”
It’s available on Amazon, Nook, Kobo and on All Romance Ebooks. More about the book and all the links are here.
If you’d like to sign up to get your extract featured in the Sneak Peek Sunday Blog Hop, just click the image below.
Okay, it’s here: the fourth and final book in the Asteria series is out. If you’ve read Princess, I know you’ll be wanting to find out what happens to Lucy!
This one brings everything to a dramatic conclusion and ties everything up. I’m not telling you if there’s a happily-ever-after ending: in fact, you may notice that there’s not even an extract of this one on Amazon. I tried, but there was just no way I could do it without spoiling things! What I will say is that there’s a definite ending: I’m not leaving things open for a sequel. If there are more Asteria books in the future, they won’t be about Lucy and Jagor.
It’s been a lot of fun writing this series: it’s a bit emotional, actually, coming to the end of it. I might do a separate post about it in a few days, when I’ve had time to think about it.
The novel version, which combines all four books, will go live within the next few days. Remember that if you want to get it at a discount price, you need to be on my mailing list (there’s a sign-up link on the right-hand sidebar).
Post-Publishing Cooking Calorie Overload (#1) Pretzel Crusted Brownies with Fluffy Buttercream Frosting
As I’ve mentioned before, when I publish a book I like to cook to let off steam. For The Princess of Asteria, I wanted to do something a bit special. When I saw this recipe mentioned on Twitter, I knew I had to make it.
While the recipe comes from Rachel, I actually found it through another recipe site, Allie’s Clean Plate Club. You can check out Rachel’s original recipe here or Allie’s write-up of it here. They’re both excellent.
Or you can follow my version, which is especially for Brits who don’t understand what a cup is, romance writers who see gooey chocolate and start mentally writing scenes about heroines melting into the hero’s arms and other moody people Of Russian Descent.
Pretzel Crusted Brownies with Fluffy Buttercream Frosting
There are so many things to love about this recipe. It’s both so utterly American and so completely wrong, there was no way I wasn’t going to cook it. I was out buying ingredients within twenty-four hours of seeing it on Twitter, in preparation for the pubbing.
Firstly, the name. I mean, brownies? Not enough. Let’s crust them with junk food. Let’s ice them – no, not American enough. Let’s frost them. No, normal frosting’s not enough, let’s buttercream it up. Not with any old buttercream: we’re going fluffy with this bad boy. The name alone tells you everything you need to know about this recipe, and for that, I humbly salute it.
Secondly, the idea of it. It’s just so fantastically unhealthy. I mean, brownies are bad for you, but the one thing they don’t have in is lots of salt. This is a brownie with added salt. With icing on top. I like to think that if Gillian McKeith is an unstoppable force, this is the immovable object.
Let’s get started. We’re going to need pretzels. Lots of pretzels. We’re going to go so gosh-darned American with this recipe, we only want authentic American pretzels. What have we got here?
Penn State Pretzels: Penn State’s in America, right? Right.
Let’s have a look at the recipe. My additions for Brits in italics.
For the crust:
- 4C pretzels – This is an American recipe, so everything’s in cups. I love the fact that America uses its very own measurement. It makes me want to bring back old money to Britain. Do yourself a favor and go and buy a cup measure. Tesco do them for about £5 – yes, I know, but you only ever need to buy it once and it makes these recipes sooo much easier. Don’t try to use a cup – cups vary in size. Don’t use a mug. Awful things will happen. 4C pretzels equates to a bag like the one above: you’ll have some left over, but only enough to snack on after cooking. Om nom nom.
- ¾ C unsalted butter (1.5 sticks) – In America they sell butter in sticks, like firewood. In Britain we have bars, like soap. You will need almost two standard bars, total, for the whole recipe (crust, brownie mix and icing, all put together). Cut it into cubes and squish it into the cup measure to measure it out. Aren’t you glad you bought that cup measure, now?
- ½ C sugar – use castor sugar
For the brownies (apparently this bit’s adapted from BAKER’S One Bowl Brownies – it’s a good recipe, if you ever need just plain brownies).
- 4 oz BAKER’S unsweetened chocolate (4 squares) I don’t know what kind of crazy cooking chocolate bars they have in America, but the ‘squares’ must be colossal. 4 oz is about one full bar of cooking chocolate. Don’t use normal chocolate: go and get some cooking chocolate from the baking aisle. It matters. Probably.
- ¾ C unsalted butter (already included in the 2 bars you bought above)
- 2 C sugar (castor sugar)
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla – I assumed this was vanilla essence/extract. I got the posh stuff with seeds in it. If you do the same, remember to shake it first. I didn’t. Oops.
- 1 C all-purpose flour – this is PLAIN flour, not self-raising.
For the frosting
- ½ C unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature – already included in the two bars you bought above. Make sure you don’t put it in the fridge or you’ll be trying to soften it over the gas like I was.
- 3 C confectioners’ sugar – icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract – same stuff as above
- 1 Tbsp milk – not breast milk
Part 1: The Pretzel Crust
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees (Brits: that’s 200 degrees centigrade)
Line a 13″ x 9″ baking tray with foil. Use your fingers to rub butter all over the foil until it’s all squidgy between your fingers and the foil is thoroughly lubricated.
Sorry, I went a bit Nigella there. Grease the foil.
Rachel now blends her pretzels in a food processor. I don’t have a food processor (or an ice cream maker, or one of those big fridges with an ice dispenser, or a pony) so I used a sandwich bag and a cafetiere (what the Americans call a French Press).
Bash the pretzels until they look like this:
Melt the butter. Mix pretzels, sugar and melted butter together. You will have moist, sugared pretzels. Press them into the baking tray. They will stick to your fingers and refuse to bond together. Tanya, you will yell, Tanya, you crazy Russian, this is not a crust! Have faith. Just squish them down until they’re level, like this:
Now bake that for 10 mins. Keep an eye on it: you don’t want the pretzels to burn.
When you take it out, marvel at how the sugar has magically glued everything together into a hard crust. Tanya, you will say, I will have faith in future. Let that be a lesson.
Part 2: The Brownies
Change the oven temperature to 350 degrees (180 degrees centigrade for Brits)
Now you need to melt the butter and the chocolate together. Rachel does this in the microwave. I did it on the stove. As long as you don’t burn it, you’re fine.
You now have a bowl full of nothing but chocolate and butter, melted together. Does that sound good? Would you like to see what that looks like?
Note chocolate splatters in photo. Note also ugly chocolate tide mark. Food photography 7/10 Tanya, must try harder.
Now, a bowl of chocolate and butter isn’t enough. Let’s add some sugar. Two CUPS of sugar. Want to see that?
The sheer calorie density of this actually blew a bulb in my kitchen, which is why it’s got darker.
Now add the eggs and vanilla (shake the vanilla extract if it’s the posh stuff with seeds in) and mix well.
Now add the flour and mix. At this stage you have what I think the Americans call brownie batter. Don’t eat it, because it has raw eggs in and as all Brits know, raw eggs will kill you. Now pour it over the cooled crust.
Now spread it out to the edges.
Bake it for 35-40 minutes. You’re meant to cook it until a toothpick comes out almost clean. I made do with a fork. A fork’s like four toothpicks, so it’s better.
When it’s cool, you can use the foil you put in the baking tray to lift out the whole thing, making it vastly easier to slice up later. Details like this are why Rachel’s site rocks.
Part 3 – The (Fluffy) Frosting
Beat the butter until fluffy. I don’t have Rachel’s electric mixer (or her smile) so I had to summon my grandmother’s Russian peasant PRIDE in a HARD DAY’S WORK WELL DONE and BEAT IT until my arms hung like limp spaghetti from my shoulders. If, like me, your forgot to take the butter out of the fridge you will be cursing and trying to soften it over the stove at this point. Don’t melt it – that’s probably bad.
So: beat the butter until fluffy and then add the sugar one cup at a time until completely combined.
Then mix in the vanilla extract and the milk. Add more milk if you need to, to get the frosting soft but not runny. It hardens a bit in the fridge but it’s not meant to go completely hard – it’s frosting, not icing (think carrot cake).
Now cut it into squares and press a pretzel into each one. I like to think they look like little CND symbols. Then eat it.
Here’s what mine looked like:
These are incredibly good to eat. Thank you, Rachel!