And as any author worth her salt knows 'deadline' equals 'desperate need for chocolate'.
I admit it's a definite factor in the development of a 'writers' bottom' but one week from crashing into a deadline means you simply do NOT care. All that matters is said bottom - whatever size - is sat in the chair.
So, in sympathy with me I duly announce today as CHOCOLATE DAY. Let the word be spread.
Unusually for me, science is on my side.
Chocolate causes certain endocrine glands to secrete hormones that affect your feelings and behavior by making you happy. Therefore, it counteracts depression, in turn reducing the stress of depression. Your stress-free life helps you maintain a youthful disposition, both physically and mentally. So, eat lots of chocolate! Elaine Sherman, Book of Divine Indulgences
Isn't that delightful!
And if you are in the mood for science you probably ought to make yourself a large mug of hot chocolate (extra cream on top, of course), crack a bar of 'Green and Blacks' and settle down to this YouTube.
Now, here's the plan - I'm about to share my current, all time favourite chocolate recipe. (I've even tried to give a cross Atlantic translation! You really cook in a cake-pan??????) It's pure sin and just what a girl under stress needs ... But there will be a pay back.
CHOCOLATE CLOUD CAKE
Natasha's latest Harlequin Romance Wanted: White Wedding is released in NA and the UK this month.
250g dark chocolate, (9 ounces bittersweet chocolate), minimum 70% cocoa solids
125g (half a cup) unsalted butter, softened
6 Eggs, :2 whole, 4 separated
175g caster sugar (three-quarters cup superfine sugar)
2 tbsp Cointreau, (optional)
1 orange, grated zest only (optional)
For the cream topping
500ml double cream (2 cups heavy cream)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp Cointreau, (optional)
0.5 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4/350ºF. If you're an AGA owner it's in the baking oven, middle-ish. If you have a two oven AGA you are on your own and will have to fiddle about with a cold sheet!
Line the bottom of a 23cm Springform cake tin with baking parchment.
Melt the chocolate either in a double boiler or a microwave or on your hot plate, and then let the butter melt in the warm chocolate.
Beat the 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks with 75g (1/3 cup) of the sugar, then gently add the chocolate mixture, the Cointreau and orange zest.
In another bowl, whisk the 4 egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the remaining sugar and whisk until the whites are holding their shape but are not too stiff.
Lighten the chocolate mixture with a dollop of egg whites, and then fold in the rest of the whites. Pour into the prepared cake tin (pan) and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is risen and cracked and the centre is no longer wobbly. Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack; the middle will sink as it cools.
When you are ready to eat, place the still in it's tin (pan) on a cake stand or plate for serving and carefully remove the cake. Don't worry about cracks or rough edges. It WILL sink as it's got no flour in it. That's what you want. You are going for the crater look.
Whip the cream until it's soft and then add the vanilla and Cointreau and continue whisking until the cream is firm but not stiff. Fill the crater of the cake with the whipped cream, easing it out gently towards the edges of the cake, and dust the top lightly with cocoa powder pushed through a tea-strainer.
You'll find that recipe and others in 'Classic Home Desserts' by Richard Sax and 'Nigella Bites' by Nigella Lawson.
So, here's the deal. I've given you mine so I want to try yours. If you have a blog of your own, please post it and leave a link below. If you are not a blogger, email it to me and I'll post it on mine.
Romantic Times Magazine says: 'Natasha Oakley's Wanted: White Wedding (4.5) has its share of deeply touching moments, but what makes it stand out are the humor and the wonderful characters.'
You can find out more about it on her website and you can hear her moan about her sheikhs, dying people carrier, broken boiler, broken sofa and other assorted disasters by visiting her blog.
Her contribution to the Niroli series, 'The Tycoon's Princess Bride', is available here and won the Romantic Times Magazine Best Presents of 2007 and is nominated for a RITA®.
'Crowned: An Ordinary Girl' has finalled in the National Readers' Choice Awards.
Here in the UK it is the Year of Reading. The hope is that the campaign will reach people who don't consider themselves 'readers'. The slogan is 'Reading – Any time, Anything, Anywhere'.
NYR was formally launched on 1st April. If you're in the UK you will be seeing a fair bit of this advert.
Spot the Harlequin Mills & Boon? To save you much peering I can tell you it's a 'Modern Heat' - 'Public Scandal, Private Mistress' by Susan Napier.
As part of the National Year of Reading, a scheme has been set up to link authors and libraries together. Each of the 149 participating library authorities now has a 'writer in residence' and Natasha has been chosen as Bedfordshire's. 9 of the 149 authors selected are published by Harlequin Mills & Boon. The other 8 being:
Michelle Styles - Northumberland
Louise Allen - Peterborough
Susan Stephens - Kirklees
Kate Hardy - Norfolk
Nicola Cornick - Wiltshire
Sharon Kendrick - Hampshire
Caroline Anderson - Suffolk
India Grey - Cheshire.
That’s category fiction being recognised alongside literary fiction. Kinda fun!