Death by Chocolate Cake - Crown of Midnight (by Sarah J Maas) {book review}

“Is that … chocolate cake?”- “I thought you might need some.” - “Need, not want?”A ghost of a smile was on her lips, and he almost sagged in relief as he said, “For you, I’d say that chocolate cake is most definitely a need.”
- Crown of Midnight; Sarah J Maas 

The scene that the above quote comes from is when Dorian sees Celaene carrying a whole chocolate cake to her rooms. There are times in our lives when chocolate cake is much more a need than a want. After reading this in Crown of Midnight I couldn't get chocolate cake out of my head. I bought all the ingredients and was determined to make it...

... a whole week later. Having been out of the baking game for a while I had forgotten the time and mindset that is required for baking layered cakes. They aren't difficult but they do require a certain amount of patience as you have to wait for them to cool completely before icing and so on. I started my cake so late at night and was exhausted with the clean up that I wasn't exactly in the mood for a slice until the following day. And let me tell you that this cake was worth the effort and the wait. 

The recipes calls for: 
cake: 275g dark chocolate, 275g unsalted butter, 1 tbsp instant coffee, 250g plain flour, 40g cocoa powder, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp bicarb, 250g caster sugar, 250g light brown sugar, 5 eggs, 100ml buttermilk
Frosting: 250g unsalted butter, 500g icing sugar, 50g cocoa powder, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 5 tbsp of evaporated milk (give or take depending on constancy)
Decorations: chocolate chips or curls or whatever you want

{full recipe in *Jane's Patisserie cookbook by Jane Dunn available now}

There have been many dry and crumbly chocolate cakes in my past, but this one was neither of those things. It's probably one of the best chocolate cakes I have ever had or made! This recipe alone makes it worth picking up a copy of the cookbook! 

Crown of Midnight 
by Sarah J Maas 

mini review

It was never my intention to read a single Sarah J Maas book. Having seen them all over social media I never expected them to live up to the hype. So, after some persuading by my book buddy reader Charlee I picked up a box set of A Court of Thorns and Roses - after literally devouring them and Charlee gifting me a copy of House of Earth and Blood a Crescent City novel I have finally admitted that I am a fan. 

It was only time before I read the Throne of Glass series - it is her first series having written Throne of Glass as a teenager. There are some benefits from having read the above series first as in that it was easy to pick up these books and already understand some of the world and familiarity to how Sarah J Maas writes characters. Which I personally think is something she is particularly good at and why I come back to her books. 

Crown of Midnight is the second book in the series which picks up pretty much where the first one left off Celaena has just been bestowed with the title of King's Assassin and we see her take on this role struggling with playing the game by the kings rules. Given the task of killing a suspected leader of a rebel group working against the king Celaena takes her time trailing them and trying to figure out what they know because she suspects there is more that is going on. 

It's been a pleasure seeing the character growth for all the characters as they start to become more three dimensional. Celaena's love for chocolate cake is one I can get behind and the only reason this post has been written. It's also been great trying to pick up the threads of what might be in the following books. When you are reading a highly popular series that is also old it's hard not to see spoilers so out of my deductions from living on bookstagram I have made a few predictions but time will tell as I continue the series with Heir of Fire. 

It's not normal for me to write a book review and I don't think this can even be called one? 

Jane's Patisserie by Jane Dunn {Cookbook Review}

Once upon a time I collected cookbooks and baking books like they were going out of style. Then I moved and had to take a serious look at the over flowing shelves, there was a cull and a lot of them were re-homed to loving friends and family who take good care of them. To keep myself from being in that position again I stopped buying new cookbooks as I had enough with all the recipes I could ever want and I mean the internet, right? 

But I broke my many year cookbook buying ban for this one. Having been an avid fan and recipe tester (unofficially) of Jane's Patisserie blog there was nothing that was going to stop me from buying this book with 60 new and exclusive fan-requested recipes! 

It's got everything you could ever want bake - cheesecakes, cakes, cupcakes/muffins, cookies, breads/doughnuts, tray bakes, desserts, tea time treats, and a chapter on sweets! Whenever I review a cookbook I always list a few of the recipes I cannot wait to try so here are 10 recipes waiting to be made in my kitchen: 

No-Bake Speculoos Cheesecake
Baked Brownie Bottom Chocolate Cheesecake
Death by Chocolate Cake
White Chocolate & Pistachio Cupcakes
Banoffee Cupcakes
Chocolate Viennese Whirls
Chocolate Cherry Babka
Salted Caramel Pretzel Slice
Caramel Apple Crumble Pie
Irish Cream Liqueur Fudge

This book is tailored for the home baker at any level the instructions are easy to follow and the ingredients easy enough to find at any local supermarket and/or corner store. Having already attempted the Death by Chocolate Cake and having great success and a friend who make the Sticky Toffee Brownies also with great success and praise from those fortunate enough to try them I think it's safe to say that for me this book has found a permanent space on my shelf. 

And because the world loves videos - I made a quick tiktok flipping through the book if you want an insider view of it! Of course you can also visit Jane's Patisserie blog if you wanted to try out some of her other recipes! 

*I purchased this book (from The Works) all opinions are my own.

@lisa_unitedcakedom A look inside Jane's Patisserie cookbook by Jane Dunn *not an ad I purchased my copy from The Works UK #janespatisserie #blogger #cookbook #cookbooksarebookstoo #cookbookreview #bakingbookworm #bakingbook #CapCut ♬ Happy Day - Ardy'Dc

lemon polenta cake {inspired by We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman} (recipe)

Recently I started thinking about the days when I used to bake and blog a couple times a week, being a blogger and somewhat of an influencer before the word influencer was used to describe what I was doing for fun. I miss it, but it is work. Fun work, but work. 

Before the blog post there is the planning/inspiration, the shopping and cost of ingredients, then the baking and the clean up. After that you have the photo taking and editing and the writing... 

Once you get the blog post up it's the self promotion. Have you used the right hashtags? Making sure you post at the right times to try and get the most views. And now so much has changed. I have to make reels or tiktoks? Who reads blogs anymore? 

I loved it as a creative outlet when I was at home with the kids, but now a days life is different. Life is always changing. 

Netgalley gifted me an ecopy of *We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman - it's a devastatingly beautiful and sorrowful story about how one's life changes when your best friend is diagnosed with cancer. 

One of the things that Edi wants is a Sicilian lemon polenta pound cake that she came across once at a bakery and never saw again. So, there is a hunt for the recipe in the book. This is not the above, but it is a damn tasty polenta cake from the gorgeous Nigella. It can be found on her website as well as in her book Kitchen. 

lemon polenta cake: 

200g soft unsalted butter (plus some for greasing)
200g caster sugar
200g ground almonds
100g fine polenta (or cornmeal)
1½ teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs
zest of 2 unwaxed lemons (save juice for syrup)
juice of 2 lemons
125 grams icing sugar

Line the base of a 23cm / 9inch circle or square cake tin (grease sides with butter if needed)
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/gas mark 4/ 350°F.
Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and soft. 
Mix the dry ingredients together (almonds, polenta, baking powder) and then beat a third of it into the butter mixture, then add one egg and beat until combined, alternate again with another third of the dry ingredients, egg, and then the last of the dry mixture; mixing well between each addition. 
Lastly add the lemon zest and then scrap into your prepared tin, I used a spatula to smooth it into the corners. Pop it into the oven and bake for 40 minutes. 

I left mine in accidentally for a few extra minutes, but when it comes out it make still look a little wobbly, but if the cake tester comes out mostly clean you are good, it also will cave a little in the middle that is normal. Leave to cool in the tin, while making the lemon sugar syrup. 

Which one makes by boiling the lemon juice and icing sugar together until the sugar is dissolved. Using the cake test or something similar using anything bigger will be destructive to the cake according to Nigella, pour the warm syrup slowly over the cake, I used a brush to spread it over the top to stop it just pooling in the middle. Leave to cool completely in the tin before taking out and cutting up into 12-16 squares/slices (depending on how you want to distribute it)! Enjoy!

> Will keep for 5-6 days and is suitable for freezing just make sure you wrap it up tight and eat within a month. 

"Everyone dies, and yet it's unendurable. There is so much love inside of us. How do we become worthy of it? And, then, where does it go? A worldwide crescendo of grief, sustained day after day, and only one tiny note of it is mine." - Catherine Newman 

* I really enjoyed this story, the writing style was different, but once adjusted to it was easy to follow. Not sure I particularly liked the characters, but that didn't stop me from relating to what they were going through and it gave me room to question how I would feel or respond in a similar situation. Also appreciated that it didn't cover up the real and horrible sides of watching someone you love die. Out now!