Authors in Bloom Blog Hop

Dianne Venetta_AIB Logo_2015

Spring has officially arrived, and you know what that means. I’m back with another amazing gardening tip, some cool decorating pics and a blog hop list crammed full of fun and prizes.

If you follow me, you know that I live overseas, so various towns and villages celebrated Snowman Burning Day–the torching of a large straw snowman–to herald in the Spring Equinox. I have no pics because the thought of setting something large on fire seems inconsistent with gardening, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Meanwhile, I was busy decorating some antiques I picked up just in time to entice Mother Nature to show off her pretty dresses. While I love to garden, I sometimes get stuck on how to display my blooms indoors. At least, I did until I started visiting various Pinterest pages and discovered I can transform pretty much anything into something that cradles a few flowers.

For example, why not use a vintage beer crate gussied up with bottles of single stems for Spring, or an old berry crate. It’s amazing what cleaning, treating the wood and a simple waxing can do to elevate the style of simple pieces. Adorned with flowers and candles, and….why not?? Right? I was sold! And yes, my wallet took a tiny hit, too.

Here’s a pic of my berry crate with a few treasures tucked inside, and the beer crates (and Daniel, the nice German guy who carted all my stuff to the car!). Aren’t they beautiful? Even old galvanized olive buckets (mhmm, snagged one too!) can be a home for wildflowers or dried lavender bundles.

Aren’t they adorable? So, scout your house or garden for any potential treasures and show off your Spring blossoms (without burning any snowmen).

Speaking of Spring, I’ve recently set my series starter One and a Half Regrets to free, so you can dive in and take a heartwarming romance break now that winter is officially at an end. I love for everyone to win, so if you’re here–you can one-click this universal link to grab it from the book retailer of your choice.

GET THE FREE BOOK!

If you subscribe to my newsletter, you know I’ve just released Book 5 in the Love by the Numbers sweet series. I’m SOO excited about this magical romance. What’s spring without a wedding, what’s a wedding without a wild animal attack, and what’s a blog hop without a fun little contest? So, up for grabs is a stuffed plush coatimundi (yes, a critter to go with your blooms!) and a copy of Book 5 in my Love by the Numbers series, FIVE DAYS IN PARADISE.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here’s a little bit from FIVE DAYS IN PARADISE:

I knew it. Knew his stubbornness was born from resentment.

“This isn’t about who’s getting married,” I protest. My career practically depends on me executing this wedding to perfection, and I damn sure can’t do it with some trashy rock band screeching up the joint. “It’s about me.”

He pauses. “No. Not even for you, Lise.”

“Gah!” I fling my hands in the air, bashing one accidentally into his sideview mirror. It rattles but stays attached to the car. My hand is stinging almost as much as my injured pride. I cradle my bruise, relishing the pain, because it reminds me of what comes of tangling with Nick DeSilva. No matter how handsome the package or fulsome the promises, in the end there’s nothing inside.

“That sounded painful. Did you hurt yourself? Is anything broken?” He takes my throbbing hand in his, checking for injuries.

Broken? Only my heart. My dreams. My plans to move forward with my life. 
“You are the most obnoxious, self-centered, egotistical… I hate you, Nicholas DeSilva. I really do.” And damn me, I’m crying now. Tears spill down my cheeks. I no longer cry when I’m sad. The tears only come when I’m burning hot mad, like now–the moment I realize that once again I need him and he can’t be bothered to lift a finger.

Our hands drop, but he doesn’t let go. He’s too close, crowding me with his familiar presence and his glittering dark eyes. “Well, I don’t hate you, Lise. I thought I did, but I don’t.”

“Get away from me.” I jerk free and push at his chest, but my protest is half-hearted and he knows me so well. Something in his eyes flickers and changes. They’re no longer like polished obsidian. More like hot tar on the summer asphalt.

“I don’t hate you,” he repeats like he’s trying to convince himself. “In fact, I…” He shakes his head, unable to say more. His hands cup my face, and all the breath in my lungs leaks out.

He’s going to kiss me. It’s the last rational thought I have before his warm, sweet mouth covers mine.

Get it here! 
Amazon 
Universal Book Link (all retailers)


Hope you enjoyed this post and don’t forget to COMMENT on each Authors in Bloom blog post to be entered for the Blog Hop grand prize–a Kindle Fire or Nook (winner’s choice) along with a 2nd prize $25 gift card! Only those visitors who visit EACH and EVERY stop are eligible for the grand prize ereader and gift card. Eligibility will be verified by hop’s end.  Also, leave your contact email in the comment section, or we have no way to contact you if you win. Fingers crossed!!

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Another chance to win!

‘Tis the season of giving…and it’s Cyber Monday, so I’ve got a doozy of a cyber-surprise for you.  To celebrate the end of fall, I’ve teamed up with more than 55 fantastic sweet romance authors to give away a huge collection of novels, PLUS a Kindle Fire to one lucky winner!
You can win my sweet contemporary series starter ONE AND A HALF REGRETS, plus books from authors like Lisa Mondello and Jennifer Shirk.  Enter the giveaway by clicking here: http://bit.ly/sweet-fall
Good luck, and enjoy!
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A DARING ENGAGEMENT is live!

daring-engagement-finalHOORAY, A Daring Engagement is officially LIVE (yay!)

To celebrate, I’d also like to personally invite you to today’s Carly Phillips’ “Dare to Love” Release party for all 7 authors releasing today. There are LOTS of personal prize options from the authors this month, and a grand prize of a new Kindle and a personalized coffee mug. (Already have a Kindle? Save and gift this to someone else!) AND–you get EXTRA entries from posting a review of any of the new releases. That’s right, post proof of your review for me, and ALSO earn extra chances to win that grand prize. Here’s the EVENT!
I personally will be giving away free audio book copies, a $5 and $10 Amazon gift card–and posting a Proof of Purchase or screenshot of a review for A DARING ENGAGEMENT will put you in the drawing for my special Genuine Pearl necklace giveaway!
I’m so excited and I hope to see you there. Happy Reading!
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Don’t REGRET this giveaway!

1.53NUMBERS JPGHave you heard the news? I’ve got a new novel releasing today and I can’t WAIT to share it with you!!
I am so excited to bring you this sweet New Adult romance! All of the sizzle; no explicit sex. 🙂 I’ve got 7 books mapped out for the series so far, and it’s linked to One Sweet Summer (Love by the Numbers, Book 0), my previous Kindle World novella. ONE AND A HALF REGRETS is the official “Love by the Numbers” series starter and it’s written in a brand new style!
Here’s a bit about the book:
OVERVIEW:

I never expected Liam Hensley to rock and roll his way back into my life. Now he’s reminding me of things I thought I’d long since given up–my life, my love, my own music. He says he wants a second chance, to make up for mistakes of the past. There’s just one little problem…I’m hiding a secret that could ruin both our futures.

I can’t tell him I had his baby.

Classical violinist and single mom, Beth MacGuire works part-time at a bar while keeping tabs on her alcoholic mother and minding her sweet infant daughter—until a chance encounter with her high school crush, Liam Hensley, spells disaster for her plans to put her past behind her.
 
When Liam signed with hot band, Wylde Ryder, he rocketed to fame and never looked back. He’s returned to Seattle for a bandmate’s doomed wedding, but seeing Beth rekindles feelings he thought he’d buried for good.
Plagued by turbulent memories, their passionate reconnection sparks brighter than his concert spotlights. Beth is set against risking her precious baby’s happiness for life with a rock star daddy, but when Liam’s father discovers their little secret, the drummer must choose between stepping up or stepping away from being a family man.
Your ticket to the hottest rock love story of the summer! (2)

The best part is ONE AND A HALF REGRETS is on sale for TWO days only. Don’t miss out! Get your copy for .99 cents until 7-28-16 (reg. price $2.99).

amazon

 

Still not sure? Want a little taste of the new novel? Check out this excerpt from ONE AND A HALF REGRETS:

“I’m here now. Doesn’t that count for something?”

“Lucky me. I get one last night with Liam Hensley. Where are you off to tomorrow? London? Paris? Singapore?”

 “Seattle,” he suddenly shouts. His face is contorted in agony. “I’ll be here tomorrow. And the next day and the one after that if that’s what it takes to make you hate me less.”

 “I don’t hate you, Liam. I…” I stop short. The wind blows through the trees, making a shushing noise. “You’d do that? For me?”

 “Yeah.” He holds my eyes. “DeSilva can screw off. The band needs a break. Zane and Finn are about to go at it over something, and the wedding is making everyone crazy, and I’d rather just be with you. It’s the only thing that’s felt right in I don’t know how long.”

 My chest is being squeezed like a set of bagpipes. “Since when did I matter?”

 His face softens. “Since the first day of fourth grade when I pulled your braids and you kicked me in the nuts. Since tenth grade when I kissed you for the first time. Since the day I said goodbye to you in a stupid text message and my world hasn’t been the same.”

 He gives me that look, the one that says he’s going to kiss me. He leans closer, with his perfectly handsome features, a face I’ve loved forever. I feel my lips start to pucker in anticipation of meeting his and butterflies flutter an alarm in my midsection.

 This is wrong, this is all going wrong. I’m not supposed to be falling for Liam again, I am just supposed to get some closure. I can never be with him, never tell him about…

 “I have a baby,” I hear myself blurting.

 “A wha—okay.” Liam rocks back, as if I’ve struck him. “You do?”

 “Yes.” We do, I finish in my head. I start swinging again. Twisting in the wind, like a loose strand.

 Oh, I’m a horrible, horrible person.

 “That’s uhhh…great. Right?” He grabs hold of my chains, forcing me to slow down and face him. “Yeah, great. You found some nice guy or something after we split? That’s great.” His knee is bouncing up and down and he’s babbling, obviously blindsided and angry and confused all at once.

 The way I’d been when I saw the double blue lines on the pregnancy test.

 The way I’d been when I’d read his texted goodbye.

 It was awful and heart-wrenching and wrong. I should’ve told him. I should have let him have a choice in decisions for his future. Tears blur my vision and I grope blindly, finding the solidity of his shoulder.

 He’s right next to me, where he should be.

 “Liam…” Who did I think I was, deciding everything for everyone?

 “So, you’re with someone now? Is he the father? Is that why you didn’t want to go out with me today?” He looks devastated, but I’m not sure why. Is it the baby, or the possibility that I’m seeing another man?

 As if I could love anyone but him.

 “No.” I screw up my courage. This time, I’m not going to run from the hard thing. The right thing. I’m not a stupid teenager anymore. It’s time to pull up my big girl panties and face the truth. “Liam, there’s more.”

 “Is it bad?” He flinches, like he’s expecting a hard hit.

 “Yes. No. I don’t know.” I hide my face in my hands. “Why is this so fecking hard?”

 He pries my fingers off my face. His gaze is smooth and steady. Looks like he’s grown up some, too. “Okay. Tell me.”

 I can’t bear this.

 Can’t stand hurting Liam again.

 I take a deep breath and answer. “The baby’s yours.”

To celebrate, I’m offering a little giveaway at Rafflecopter. Head over to check it out!

Why Finding Readers is like Shopping at Sam’s Club

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Recently, I conducted a poll on Facebook to try to determine what factors influence readers to find and purchase books from “new-to-them” authors. The “influencers” were compiled from previous author polls, discussion on Marie Force’s Author Support Network, and from my own inspiration. I randomized choices for each respondent to allow for a more authentic poll response. Even so, this is the least scientific study I’ve ever conducted, with all kinds of potential bias.

  • The poll was conducted on social media, which may account for the heightened responses regarding those platforms.
  • It was only offered for a week.
  • It wasn’t, to my knowledge, distributed via author newsletters. A few loops, groups, and shared on FB.
  • There was no accounting for the reader actually buying/reading romance, and the sample size isn’t statistically relevant, given the overall projected number of romance readers.
  • I offered a chance to win a prize in exchange for participation (see winners below).

TLDR: It’s not a perfect study. Not even close. (But it was REALLY interesting!)

Below is the screenshot image of results and my analysis. I’d love to read your feedback/insights, so please leave a comment. Keep in mind, as this was NOT a scientific study, YMMV rules apply.  BEHOLD!

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(Click the image and embiggen for more details. Back to return.)

After viewing the Top 3 responses, I think it’s safe to state that the largest impact on gaining new readers is: 1-Great Products 2-From a Trusted Source 3-At a Reasonable or Reduced Price (AND with available free samples to try).

Shocker. This is NOTHING NEW. Marketing experts have been saying this for years, and apparently it works.

I was struck by the analogy of Bulk Shopping. When you go into a Sam’s Club, there’s a large quantity of products (even books, whee!) all at supposed discounted prices. Maybe you only intended to buy a case of wine or a spiral ham for your upcoming party, but darn, as you wheel through those HUGE aisles on your way to the meat case, those frozen food free samples are sooo tempting. You didn’t intend to purchase something else and you didn’t even know that mini-quiches were a thing, until you stuffed that hot gooey goodness sample into your mouth.

You tried it. And you liked it. (And P.S. your mother would be shocked that you actually LIKED spinach.)

The price $8 for a box of 40 seems reasonable, but wait! They’re actually on the endcap, which usually means they’re on sale (hence Free Sample Sally hocking her wares!) You drag out that weekend sales circular—Yep! They’re listed at $5 until tomorrow.

So, you buy it.

Still brushing quiche crumbs off your lips, you congratulate yourself now have appetizers for 20 people for less than the cost of a Starbucks latte. Score!! But, you’re still hungry. Darn it, you apparently LIKE spinach. And you won’t feel like cooking tomorrow. Maybe you should stock up…

Now you’re off roaming the aisles, looking for other party food platters in the same frozen food section, made by the same company. Because, hey, you liked those baby quiches. Maybe the box even had a hot guy in a chef’s hat on the front, telling you how great they are, like that chef you saw on Chopped.

Sexy Aussie Super Chef Curtis Stone.

He’s good. Yeah….you like him. Just last week, he compared spinach egg rolls to a culinary orgasm. And while you don’t normally go for spinach, you trust his taste in frolic fare, so you grab a box to have at your party. Not on sale, but, you don’t mind. The price is reasonable.

And…Curtis likes them.

“Good choice. Have you tried these?” Free Sample Sally asks in a conversational tone, watching you. “They are to die for.”

“I’m just here for ham and wine.” You reposition your egg rolls and mini-quiches, careful not to cover that cute Food Network chef’s face with your thumb.

“I love those,” Sally gushes. Love is kind of a strong word, but you ARE still thinking of those yummies, so you nod. “Have you tried these spanikopitas? They’re on this aisle.”

More spinach? Why not? It can be your theme. You now adore spinach, actually. Mom would be proud.

You thank Sally and cram a few more boxes into your cart, vowing to eat leftovers for the rest of the month.

And that, my friends, is how those Top Three influencers work. You got a free sample of something you liked. You had suggestions from “trusted” sources. And what drew you to Costco was their emailed blast of upcoming weekend sales, which is why you were there to buy a ham in the first place.

In the future, I hope to conduct a few more polls regarding the actual product features that readers find most important when making a decision, but for now, I’m going to pop a plate of mini-quiches in the oven (spinach!) and get on to the more pseudo-science-y stuff:

  1. The total number of respondents was 232, with a total of 693 votes recorded. The poll question did not address rank order (e.g. I look at reason A first, then B, then C), and while I could filter them, since it was not specifically mentioned in the question, I feel it’s not appropriate. The poll simply asked, “How Do You Find New Authors to Read?” with no qualifiers.
  2. The #1 Response-Free Books remained constant for the entire survey. It did not change, no matter when or how many responses came in. The “free sample” still seems to be effective for drawing in new readers.
  3. The Top Three Influencers retained almost equal votes at 89, 86, and 82 respectively.
  4. There is a clearly-defined drop after the Top Three Responses, with #4-Recommendations from Friends garnering only a 26% vote. What’s interesting is that for much of the poll, this response was listed at a lower position, which only shows that without a statistically-relevant response pool, YMMV. Even 10 new votes was able to reshuffle the order outside of the Top Three.
  5. Also of interest—Readers place MORE weight on what a favorite author suggests or endorses, than what their FRIENDS do. I think this illustrates that reading is a personal and subjective choice, and it’s a real testament to “write what you wish to read”
  6. Responses #5-“Facebook parties” and #6 – “Also Bought or emailed book retailer suggestions” tied at 19.5%. This seems to indicate that usual social media marketing/sales techniques still have some success with finding new readers.
  7. The bottom three influencers (Author “puff” blurb on the cover, Bestseller lists, and Keyword searches) remained constant through the entire period of the survey. Combined they received only 26 of the 693 total votes.
  8. It is interesting to note that the #2 ranked “suggestions from favorite authors/author endorsement” seems to be the same as the Bottom ranked “Author puff” (which may be due to reader’s lack of comprehension or an unclear wording on the survey) in fact, it seems that having a favorite author’s personal endorsement or suggestion does not have the same impact as any random author’s quote on your cover. (i.e. Suggestions of what YOU (the author) love to read go much further than a reader picking up a book and seeing an author they do not have a personal connection with puffing the book)
  9. It’s important to point out that there were very few “outliers” and no one chose to write-in an answer.
  10. Lastly, the responses’ popularity was clearly delineated into tiers of impact as evidenced by similar or shared percentages. The Top Three. Responses 4-9. The bottom two.

Also of interest was the screen shot regarding data of who and how readers responded to the survey. Here’s that thumbnail if you care to see it (click to enlarge):

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Thanks to all who participated and shared in my Reader poll and to you, for dropping by. I chose two winners for either a copy of any book on my backlist OR a $5 book retailer gift card.

Big congratulations to Kathy O. and Inga K. You won!

I hope to conduct this survey again later this year, to determine swing in influencers. Who knows? Maybe some new hook may arise to garner reader interest.

And maybe by then I’ll be over my double addictions to Spinach…and Super Chef Curtis Stone.

Did you get your free copy of LIAR LIAR, Book One of my sizzling hot Romance series? Tap to subscribe and get yours today.

 

Authors in Bloom Blog Hop!

Dianne Venetta_AIB Logo_2015

It’s spring, and love is in the air…along with pollen! I love gardening, and when I had to move overseas I thought I’d lose my gardening kick, but it’s in full swing! To celebrate digging in and getting my hands dirty, here’s a cute cupcake idea from Oh Cupcakes! Bake chocolate cupcakes in mini-terracotta flower pots, frost, sprinkle with crushed chocolate cookies and garnish with green fondant leaves in all shapes and sizes. Aren’t these adorable?

(courtesy of Oh! Cupcakes at http://www.ohcupcakes.net/decoration-sugar-sprouts.php)

(courtesy of Oh! Cupcakes at http://www.ohcupcakes.net/decoration-sugar-sprouts.php)

Spring looks DELICIOUS. Just like those sweet cupcakes, I have a new sweet series launching this month. These cupcake-sized romance novellas are sure to tempt you. Watch for ONE SWEET SUMMER to release on April 28th in the Melody Anne “Anderson Dynasty” Kindle World.

Love by the Numbers

ONE SWEET SUMMER kicks off the rest of the “Love by the Numbers” series coming to you each month this year. (Love by the Numbers series includes: One and a Half Regrets, Two Weeks’ Vacation, Three Little Words, Four-Footed Matchmaker, & Five Days in Paradise)

And here’s a little something else to celebrate. I’ve got THREE great ways for you to win.

One determined woman. One stubborn vet. (5)

First, follow me on Amazon for your chance to win a free copy of my latest HOT romance release, DOUBLE DOG DARE. This offer only runs until April 13th, or until all copies of the book have been awarded.

Second, you can enter to win a $10 Amazon giftcard via rafflecopter (for all your gardening and cupcake needs!):
a Rafflecopter giveaway

THIRD, we have a terrific Grand Prize. Leave a comment below telling me which “Love by the Numbers” cover you like best to be entered in the BLOG HOP GRAND PRIZE:  a Kindle Fire or Nook (winner’s choice) along with a 2nd prize of $25 gift card. Only those visitors who visit EACH and EVERY stop are eligible for the grand prize e-reader and gift card. Eligibility will be verified by hop’s end. Winners will be posted on both the first (Dianne Venetta) and last  (BloominThyme) websites.

Don’t forget to check out these other stops:


Do you DARE?

I am so excited to be one of the authors writing in Carly Phillips’ Dare to Love Kindle World. My novella, A DARING DESIRE, released today and there’s a Facebook party to celebrate the January releases, including grand prizes and individual author prizes. You get extra entries for proof of purchase, so pop over and grab this hot novella to warm you up this winter!)

That party address again? https://www.facebook.com/events/1695890544013765/ Stop by and tell me what cupcake could you NOT resist?

NEW!

Special ending & New beginnings!

As the year winds to a close, I’m baking up a storm preparing for the holiday season. None of that is particularly spectacular except for my new super seekrit cupcake experiment which I PROMISED my newsletter subscribers I would share. So, without further ado, I give you…

The Double Cuppie.

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They look pretty normal, don’t they? You’d never guess they were boasting a surprise inside that will make your friends and family members go wild!

I had a party to go to and needed something special, so I whipped up a batch of Apple Cobbler mini-cupcakes, frosted them with a caramel frosting and FROZE them. Then, I made a batch of pumpkin cupcakes and plunked my little frozen babies smack dab in the center and baked THOSE.

all about autumn

See those apple minis in the center of my batter?

The resulting cupcake ends up fully baked and moist (because my frozen caramel frosting kinda baked into the pumpkin batter keeping it from drying out). The full cupcake has a perfect blend of autumn flavors (pumpkin, caramel and apple) but really, you could use an endless option of batters. How about a chocolate and peppermint concoction for the holidays? Pineapple and coconut for New Years? Strawberry and margarita lime in the summer?

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the cuppie inside of a cuppie triumph– just waiting for FROSTING!

Give your holiday a new twist and try the double cupcake. Be sure to drop by my Facebook page and let me know how they turned out! I’m hosting a contest there for ONE week, to celebrate the new year and new covers for my Southern Seductions series. You could win a $15 giftcard, so drop by my page for the details.

NEW YEAR NEW LOOK CONTEST

Fall into Romance Hop & GIVEAWAYS!

Ahhh…Autumn! Whether it’s the crisp smell of apples or the crunch of leaves underfoot, fall is definitely my favorite time of year. It’s the special time of year where long summer days fade into cool evenings spent in front of the firepit cuddling with my favorite honey.

And nothing suits my mood better than a brand new batch of cupcakes to celebrate the season.

Those of you who follow my romance know that I am a bonafide cupcake FREAK. In fact, each of my hot romances features an original recipe for tempting treats in the back. So, in honor of fall, I’m featuring my favorite S’mores cupcake recipe and a new giveaway with the Sexy Scribblers.

Behold…the S’mores Cupcake!

S’mores are the perfect dessert to enjoy by the fire–but even if you can’t strike a match, you can fan the flames of desire for this chocolatey-marshmallow treat in cupcake form! (Pssst…Want more delicious recipes and good stuff? Subscribe to my VIP Newsletter!)

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Sorry for the horrible photo cropping. But don’t they look deliciously toasty?!

But before I hand out the recipe at the bottom, here’s the fantabulous Rafflecopter giveaway from the Sexy Scribblers. The Scribblers are a group of authors banded together to write traveling stories that you can enjoy for FREE. And just to give you a little something to keep you warm, we’re offering a load of free books for one lucky winner! a Rafflecopter giveaway

And, just because…I’m ALSO personally offering a $5 Starbucks gift card as a personal giveaway! Because, what goes better with cupcakes than some delicious coffee (or Coffey?)

Starbucks-5-gift-card

Two steps to win my personal giveaway, 1- Subscribe to my VIP newsletter AND 2- Comment below with “Done”, “I’m a member already” or “Not interested, thanks” and tell me what beverage you plan to get with the gift card!  I’ll be announcing the winner on November 22nd, before Thanksgiving, because I am SO thankful for my readers!! Be sure to check back.

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**UPDATE**- My contest is ended. Congratulations to the winner, Rhianona!

 

Now for the cupcakes to keep you company with their ooey-gooey deliciousness on these cold Autumn nights. Or mornings. Or…lunch…because, ain’t nobody judging you.

S’mores Cupcakes – makes 24

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So cute on my kitchen counter!

Ingredients
Graham Cracker Crust
•1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 20 squares)
•5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
•1/4 cup sugar
•9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Chocolate Cupcakes (or use your favorite chocolate box mix)
•2 cups all-purpose flour
•3/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
•1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
•1 teaspoon baking soda
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•2 eggs
•1 cup milk
•1/2 cup canola oil
•2 teaspoons vanilla extract
•1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
•2/3 cup boiling water
Meringue Frosting
•6 egg whites
•1 1/2 cups sugar
•1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
•1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
 Instructions
Make the graham cracker crust first:
1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners.
2.In a medium bow, mix together crumbs and sugar. Add melted butter until well blended and no dry crumbs remain.
3.Place 1 tablespoon of the mixture into each liner. Press the crumbs flat into the liner using the bottom of a small glass. Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of chocolate over each crust. (Reserve remaining graham cracker crumbs and chopped chocolate to top the cupcakes before baking.)
4.Bake crusts for 8 minutes. Remove the pans and let crusts cool for at least 5 minutes before adding cupcake batter.
For the cupcakes:
1.After crusts are prepared, increase oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
2.In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3.Then combine eggs, milk, oil and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add sugar and mix until combined. Then add flour mixture. Blend at low and then increase to medium. Beat for 2 minutes until blended and smooth. Remove bowl from stand and add boiling water. Gently stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Batter will be thin. Then let batter rest for 15 minutes and stir again gently before using. Fill liners with prepared crusts three-quarters full with batter. Sprinkle with reserved chocolate and graham cracker mixture. Bake about 16-20 minutes until done. Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then remove to a rack to cool completely.
Make the meringue frosting:
1.Combine egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of a stand mixer. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water without letting the bottom of the bowl touch the water in the saucepan. Hold the handle of the bowl with an oven mitt while whisking the egg white mixture until the sugar is dissolved and the whites are hot to the touch… about 4 minutes. Then transfer bowl to the stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat the mixture, starting on low and increasing to high speed. Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form and the meringue has cooled, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the vanilla and whisk just to combine. Use frosting immediately.
2.Place the frosting in a pastry bag fitted with star tip. Pipe high swirls on the cupcakes and brown the meringue using a kitchen torch and serve immediately.
Enjoy!!
Source: Trophy Cupcakes & Parties! by Jennifer Shea, 2013
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