featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

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Monday, December 10, 2018


Heather Haven is a multi-award winning mystery author. Her work includes the Silicon Valley based Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, the NYC trail-blazing WWII lady shamus of The Persephone Cole Vintage Mysteries, a stand-alone mystery noir, and an anthology of stories. Learn more about Heather and her books at her website. Today Heather joins us to share a cake recipe baked for her PI's wedding, but there's no reason you can't make one for the holidays. Just dust the top of the cake with some red or green colored sugar or Christmas sprinkles. 

Lee Alvarez on Her Wedding Cake
When Gurn and I were getting married at the end of The CEO Came COA, Book Five of the Alvarez Family Murder Mystery series, Tío, my uncle and a retired executive chef at San Jose’s famed Las Mañanitas Restaurant, offered to make the wedding cake, decorated in a Mexican motif. As you can see, not only did it look beautiful, but the cake tasted fantastic. I asked him to cut the amounts to a normal-sized cake, so I could share it with you. Tío always lets me lick the remnants of the frosting bowl. If I’m not around, you can do that yourself. Always a bonus in baking.


For The Cake
1-2/3 cups raisins, chopped
8 dried figs, finely chopped
1/2 cup brandy (you can also use warm water with 1/2 teaspoon of brandy extract. I prefer the booze, myself)
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/3 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg whites

For The Frosting
2 cups butter, softened
6 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted

Tío Says To Follow These Directions And You Can’t Go Wrong:
In a small bowl, combine raisins and figs. Add brandy (or warm water and extract); toss to combine. Let stand, covered, at room temperature about 2 hours or until liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottoms of three greased 8-in. round cake pans with parchment paper; grease paper.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, baking soda and salt until blended. Add buttermilk, butter and vanilla; beat on low speed 30 seconds or just until dry ingredients are moistened. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Add egg whites; beat 2 minutes longer.

Transfer batter to prepared pans. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

In a large bowl, cream butter until fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar. Beat in vanilla and enough cream to reach desired consistency. For filling, remove 1 cup frosting to a small bowl; stir in pecans and raisin mixture.

Place one cake layer on a serving plate; spread with half of the filling. Add another cake layer; top with remaining filling. Add remaining cake layer; spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Chill until ready to serve. Delicious!

The CEO Came COA
The Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, Book 5

Someone is trying to sabotage the Initial Public Offering of 'Read-Out', a small Silicon Valley start-up, and Lee Alvarez has been hired to find the culprit. Meanwhile, the first Alvarez grandchild is about to be born while Lee is planning her very own Christmas wedding; or rather letting her mother plan it. When Lee finds the CEO hanging by the neck in his boardroom wearing nothing but baby blue boxer shorts, she has to ask herself, was it suicide? Or was it murder? If so, was the saboteur responsible, one of his business partners, or even his famous rock star ex-wife? There are too many suspects and the bodies start piling up just in time for Christmas. Ho, ho, ho.

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Heather Haven said...

Dear Cloris, thanks so much for sharing my Tio's recipe on your blog. There will be a lot of happy campers once they taste this cake. And you're right! It's a great holiday cake. In fact, I think I'll go ask Tio to make another one right now. Happy Holidays and see ya! Best, Lee (Alvarez)


Save a slice for me, Heather!