Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Sweetest Season by Shanna Hatfield

Years ago, not long after Captain Cavedweller and I wed, we decided to host his extended family for a Christmas Eve celebration. His Dad loves ice cream, so I found a recipe for a dessert that was frozen, featured ice cream and, best of all, looked really simple to make. After all, how can you mess up ice cream and pudding?
I followed the recipe, pouring the concoction into a spring form pan, envisioning the look of pleased surprise on my father-in-law's face at this special treat. With no experience with a spring form pan, I didn’t make sure the bottom was secure before I lifted the pan to set the the dessert in the freezer.
I picked it up and turned away from the counter heading toward the fridge when the bottom fell to the floor and I had a combination of cracker crust and runny, gooey filling all over the kitchen. It splashed so spectacularly, it dripped from the ceiling and oozed down the walls. The dog, who had quietly watched the proceedings, thought Santa arrived early and eagerly dashed around the kitchen lapping up all the sweet goodness she could before she was banished outside.
Luckily, I had enough ingredients to start over and the dessert turned out beautifully. So I share it with you today – with a reminder to make sure your spring form pan is completely secure before you move this from counter to freezer. I like to place it on a cookie sheet and then there are absolutely no worries about spills!
Where the name for this dessert comes from, I don’t know, but the wonderful thing about it is you can substitute any flavor of ice cream or pudding and have dozens of creamy, delicious combinations!
Frozen Fast Forward
1 1/2 cups finely ground graham crackers
1/3 cup sugar
6 tbsp. melted butter
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 large box of instant pudding
2 cups milk
1 pint of ice cream, softened
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar. Press into bottom of spring form pan and bake for 7 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely before adding filling. Once crust is cool, mix cream cheese, pudding and milk. When thoroughly combined, mix in the ice cream. Pour filling on top of crust and freeze overnight or for several hours until firm. Garnish with toppings of your choice.
Here are some combination ideas:
•Vanilla pudding and butter toffee ice cream. Top with caramel sauce and bits of crushed Heath Bars before serving.
• Vanilla pudding and Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. Substitute chocolate cookies for graham crackers in the crust. Garnish with chocolate sauce, chocolate chips or sprigs of fresh mint and crushed peppermint candy.
• Chocolate pudding and turtle ice cream. Top with dollops of whipped cream and a toasted pecan.
• Pumpkin pudding and vanilla ice cream. Substitute gingersnaps for the graham crackers in the crust. Garnish with dollops of whipped cream and sprinkles of cinnamon.
My latest release is a sweet historical romance about a baker who does her best to soften a hardened man's heart with her confections and warm heart. 

Confection long

Will a sweet baker soften a hardened man’s heart?

 Born to an outlaw father and a shrewish mother, Fred Decker feels obligated to atone for the past without much hope for his future. If he possessed a lick of sense, he’d pack up and leave the town where he was born and raised, but something… someone… unknowingly holds him there. Captivated by Hardman’s beautiful baker, Fred fights the undeniable attraction. He buries himself in his work, refusing to let his heart dream.
Elsa Lindstrom adores the life she’s carved out for herself in a small Eastern Oregon town. She and her twin brother, Ethan, run their own bakery where she delights in creating delicious treats. Then Ethan comes home unexpectedly married, the drunks in town mistakenly identify her as a missing harlot, and a mishap in the bakery leaves her at the mercy of the most gossiped-about man in Hardman.
Mix in the arrival of three fairy-like aunts, blend with a criminal bent on dastardly schemes, and sprinkle in a hidden cache of gold for a sweet Victorian romance brimming with laughter and heartwarming holiday cheer.

“Well…” Fred gave her an odd look as he stood in the doorway with autumn sunshine spilling all around him.  “There are two other things I’d like.”
“Two?” Elsa asked, wiping her hands on her apron and facing him. “What might those two things be?” She anticipated him asking for a batch of rolls or perhaps a chocolate cake.
“My first request is simple. Please call me Fred. I’d like to think, after all this, we’re friends and all my friends call me Fred.”
Elsa nodded in agreement. “We are friends, Mr. Deck… er, I mean Fred. If you want me to call you Fred then you best refer to me as Elsa.”
The pleased grin on his face broadened. “Very well, Elsa.”
Her knees wobbled at the sound of his deep voice saying her name, but she resisted the urge to grip the counter for support. “You said there were two things you wanted, in addition to cookies. What is the second?”
“It’s a tiny little thing really,” Fred said, tightly gripping his hat in both hands.
“A tiny little thing? Then I shall take great honor in bestowing whatever it is.” Her gaze roved over the kitchen, trying to imagine what in the world Fred could want. She kept a jar full of assorted candy. Sometimes, she used the sweets to decorate cakes and cookies. Perhaps he wanted one. “A piece of candy?” she asked.
Fred shook his head. “No, Elsa. It’s sweeter than candy and far, far better.”
Intrigued, she took a step closer to him. “What is it?”
He waggled his index finger back and forth, indicating she should step closer. When she stood so her skirts brushed against the toes of his boots, he tapped his cheek with the same finger. “A little sugar right here would be even better than ten batches of cookies.”
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After spending her formative years on a farm in Eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with sarcasm, humor, and hunky heroes.

When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or covertly hiding decadent chocolate from the other occupants of her home, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna loves to hear from readers.

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Her books are available at:
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  1. Wonderful excerpt, Shanna, and your recipe is a keeper. Thanks so much!

  2. The recipe sounds awesome, Shanna! I can only imagine how long it took to clean all of that up, but it sounds like the dessert turned out spectacularly! I'm reading The Christmas Confection now and enjoying it very much.

    1. It was such a mess (made worse by the dog racing through it!). But it is a yummy dessert! Enjoy Fred and Elsa's story!