Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Today's Special - - J.A. Coffey

I'm delighted to welcome one of my local authors, J.A. Coffey to TRD! J.A. joins us today to talk about two of my favorite things: romance and cupcakes. Yes, I said (yum) cupcakes.  Please give her a warm welcome!

J.A. Coffey’s books are lush, sensual and romantic. She writes both sizzling and heartwarming contemporary romance and lush, gritty historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. A complete cupcake addict, when she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found in trying to convert her front lawn to an edible landscape, test baking desserts, or “feathering her nest” with spruced up flea market finds. A 2014 Indie Book Awards Finalist and former RWA Golden Heart finalist in the “Best Manuscript with Romantic Elements” category, J.A. is currently working on her latest novel and trying not to get cupcake batter on her keyboard. Visit her on Facebook at JA Coffey.

Cooking up Great Romance and the Great Gluten Free Salted Caramel Cupcake

From our earliest days, human beings have always craved sweet things. Whether it was berries picked from the bush or honey straight from the honeycomb, we coveted those special treats.

They say that dessert and romance go hand in hand. Seriously, is there anything more tantalizing than the scent of warm vanilla, rich buttery caramel, or deep dark chocolate? Just thinking of it makes my mouth water. It makes me want to slip into something more comfortable…perhaps a new romance novel?

Why, yes!

“He'd noticed that sex bore some resemblance to cookery: it fascinated people, they sometimes bought books full of complicated recipes and interesting pictures, and sometimes when they were really hungry they created vast banquets in their imagination - but at the end of the day they'd settle quite happily for egg and chips. If it was well done and maybe had a slice of tomato.”

Just like food service, the Romance industry caters to all kinds of appetites. Whether your tastes run sweet or spicy, there’s sure to be a book that gets your juices flowing. And, as Pratchett suggests, perhaps the reason we’re so willing to slip happily into romance novels is for a sexy bit of escapism. Something different than the mundane menu of everyday life.
For example, the fascination with “complicated recipes” of a great romance novel provide the “interesting pictures” of complex romance relationships which provide us with a feast in our imaginations (when in real life, we’re quite happy at the end of the day to settle for Pratchett’s proverbial egg and chips).

I couldn’t agree more. When I dig in to a hot Carly Phillips, an exciting Cherry Adair, or a lush Eloisa James, I know I’m in for a treat. (Ahem, share the bag of Oreos, would ya?) I’ve escaped to another place and time with characters that I wring my hands over until the HEA.
Why not put two things we love together? It’s the frosting on my cupcake!

I had the fortune to chat with PJ (yes, over lunch and no, we didn’t get dessert!) about my decision to include a recipe at the end of my contemporary romances. My decision stemmed from a desire to push myself in areas that I’m passionate about. Writing. Romance. Flinging Powdered Sugar. I’m playfully called the Cupcake Queen of Romance. So it seems natural to want to explore creative ways my stories can come to life for readers by offering a little taste of something they can do in the privacy of their own homes. Bake.

Have you ever read a book description of food that you were dying to try? Me too! It’s why being featured on The Romance Dish is so perfect!

For example, in LIAR LIAR, the hero is referred to by the heroine as ‘a hot fudge sundae poured into a pair of tight blue jeans’. The accompanying recipe is a Mexican Chocolate SoufflĂ©, a nod to the hero’s heritage. PANTS ON FIRE boasts the perfect Salted Caramel Pecan ice cream to go with a hot, reunited Atlanta couple. And the latest book in the series, HELL ON HEELS (releasing September 1, 2015), takes place primarily in Barbados, which gave me a chance to test my culinary cravings in truly tropical tastes! Here’s a little about my upcoming release, now available at a special pre-order price of only 99 cents!

Flamboyant, artistic Caroline Cattrell is determined to remain independent of her wealthy family's influence--even if it means losing her friends in the process. After losing her job, she's forced to use her seductive personality and pose as a honey pot in an undercover operation to keep her head above water.

Stan Kendrick was the one man that everyone had it out for. Branded as a cheating ex, he was forced to uphold his bad boy image to save the lives of those he cared about. But working undercover gets a lot more complicated when the one woman who could help him nail an international crime lord and finally close the case is the last woman who would dare to help him.

The Southern Seductions series continues and it's never been hotter in the South!

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER -- priced at .99 cents for a limited time! (releases September 1, 2015)

So, I asked PJ what her absolute favorite cupcake flavor would be. She suggested Salted Caramel, but here’s the deal. I noticed that PJ ordered her lunch off the Gluten-Free menu. And that got me thinking…I’m probably outing her, but I don’t think she’ll mind.
I’ve been experimenting and there are a lot of gluten-free, paleo-friendly options out there. Just because your diet is restricted doesn’t mean you can’t indulge. (PJ here. Have I mentioned how much I like this woman?) I’m all about the indulgences, people. (Did I mention my street team is known as my SWEET team?) Find out more by signing up for my VIP Newsletter here!

Just for The Romance Dish, I’ve discovered the GREAT GLUTEN-FREE Salted Caramel Cupcake Recipe (based on the recipe at Simply Gluten Free, 2012).


Agave Caramel

1 cup organic raw blue agave
½ cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sea salt


1½ cups all-purpose gluten free flour
1½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup coconut palm sugar
1 large egg
¾ cup milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup vegetable oil
16 – 18 teaspoons agave caramel (see above)

Optional: stir in ½ cup chopped pecans or reserve and sprinkle on frosting

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

6 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
3 large eggs whites
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 tablespoons agave caramel (see above)

Agave Caramel
Combine the agave and cream in a large saucepan (use one bigger than you think you will need) and bring to a boil. Let boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and whisk in butter, one tablespoon at a time. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely. If the caramel gets too thick to work with, just heat it slightly.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk. In another mixing bowl whisk together the coconut sugar with the egg, milk, vanilla and oil. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth and it starts to thicken slightly. If desired, add in chopped pecans. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins and bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until they are golden brown and puffed, the tops spring back slightly and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
Combine the coconut sugar with the egg whites a heatproof mixing bowl and set over a pan of simmering water; whisk by hand until the mixture is warm and the sugar has dissolved, about 2 -3 minutes.
Attach the mixing bowl to the stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat, starting on low then increasing the speed to medium-high, until the mixture is thick, fluffy and glossy and completely cool, about 6 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and caramel and beat on medium high until the caramel is fully incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixture and stir the frosting vigorously with a spatula to knock out some of the air and make sure all the caramel is fully blended in. Let sit at room temperature if using the same day.
Once the cupcakes are complete cool, cut a cone shaped piece about an inch in diameter from the top of the cupcakes. Spoon in 1 teaspoon of the caramel, and place a bit of cupcake on top of the caramel. Spread or pipe the frosting on top and drizzle with any remaining of caramel. Lightly sprinkle with a hint of sea salt and chopped pecans.

There you have it, folks. I hope you enjoy your tasty gluten-free cuppies. Be sure to check out my romance series, discover tasty recipes on my blog, and comment below to let me know how your culinary creations turn out!

Thanks so much for blogging with us today! I can wait to try this recipe! 

Readers, are you cupcake fans? What's your favorite flavor? Do you have a favorite cupcake recipe you'd like to share? 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Replies
    1. I've not heard of butterfly, Mary. I've seen hummingbird cupcakes though. Why are they your favorite? *dashes off to google it*

    2. I googled too. Those look delicious, Mary! I love raspberry so this is one I'd be happy to try. :)

  2. Welcome, J.A.! Thanks so much for visiting with me today.

    That salted caramel cupcake recipe looks delicious! I'm just beginning to discover gluten-free sweet treats I can make at home. This one goes to the top of the list!

    1. You're so welcome! It was fun devising a special sweet treat for you and your readers. :)

  3. My favorite cupcakes are the kinds I don't have to make! ;) I like to bake, but not for myself... I don't want to go through the trouble of making a batch to only eat one, so I save my baking for groups. That said, salted caramel anything ranks up there as a favorite.

    Really, I'm just nosing for an invite to taste-test your first go at this recipe, PJ! :)

    1. Ha ha, Caroline! You scrape all the frosting off when you eat them, don't you? ;) PJ asked for Salted Caramel and my first thought was...but I did ICE CREAM for the recipe in my Pants on Fire book. Then I thought, "what's better with ice cream than cake?" so off I went! You'll have to let me know if PJ saves you one.

    2. I'll most definitely be sharing them, Caroline!

  4. Congratulations to Virginia for winning the raffle! Enjoy!! :)