Welcome Helen, so glad you can be here with us today! It was a pleasure meeting you at Malice and I love reading your books.
Thanks for inviting me here to talk about my books, Shelley. It was great to meet you at Malice Domestic earlier this year. I know that I’m fortunate making my living writing books. It’s like being paid to daydream, and then, on top of that, I get the opportunity to travel to crime writing conventions like Bouchercon and Malice.
I have a lot of fun writing my Emily Castles mystery series. It’s a traditional mystery series featuring a twenty-six-year-old amateur sleuth. The books are set in the present day, but they have an old-fashioned sensibility that will appeal to readers who enjoy books by Dorothy L Sayers or Agatha Christie. There is some slightly surreal humor in it, too, that will appeal to fans of Alexander McCall Smith or M. C. Beaton.
In Real Elves, my Christmas story, Emily and Dr. Muriel have to solve a puzzle involving a lost child in a department store. This is the first time I have written a holiday-themed story. I have had such a great response from readers that I’m planning another Christmas story for next year, too. But I’m not going to worry about that until after the holidays.
It’s only a few days before Christmas. How are you doing? Are all your preparations complete? Pretty much all that’s left for me to do is bake a cheesecake. It’s popular at family parties and it’s an easy recipe, taken from a book called Cheesecakes by Maggie Black, so I thought I would share it with you.
In England, we would call the base for this cheesecake a biscuit base. I buy the hard-baked, shop-bought plain kind like Rich Tea or Plain Digestive and smash them up in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, or put them in the food processor until they turn into crumbs. American friends tell me they would usually use Graham Crackers, so I have listed those in the ingredients. But if you can get hold of Rich Tea or Digestive biscuits, please give them a try.
We don’t use cup measurements for baking, we use ounces (oz) and fluid ounces (fl oz) so I have left those measurements in but converted them to cups.
Maryland Party Cheesecake (serves 10-12)
1/3 cup (3 ½ oz) butter (a stick of butter)
1/3 cup (2 oz) light soft brown sugar
1 ½ cups (8 oz) Graham cracker crumbs from 24 crackers
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
4 eggs, separated
1 cup (8 fl oz) soured cream
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup (8 oz) castor sugar
1/3 cup (2 oz) plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1lb full-fat soft cheese e.g. Philadelphia cream cheese.
Line the base of a 9 inch loose-based cake tin. Melt the butter and let it cool slightly. Sieve the soft brown sugar into a bowl then add the crumbs, cinnamon and nutmeg, mix, then work the butter into it. Press the crumb mixture all over the base and about an inch up the sides of the cake tin. Chill the base while making the filling.
Beat the egg yolks until thick, and then beat in the soured cream and the vanilla essence. Mix 2/3 cup (6 oz) of the caster sugar with the flour and salt, and beat in the soft cheese a little at a time. Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until fairly stiff, adding the remaining 1/3 cup (2 oz) caster sugar while doing so. Fold the beaten egg whites into the cheese mixture. Turn gently into the chilled base in the cake tin and bake at 325F, Gas Mark 3, for one hour. Cool in the turned-off oven with the door ajar. Remove from the tin and chill for at least one hour before serving.
I hope you enjoy it if you decide to follow the recipe.
Helen Smith’s blog: http://www.emperorsclothes.co.uk
Helen Smith’s website: http://helensmithbooks.com
Helen Smith on Twitter: http://twitter.com/emperorsclothes
Helen Smith’s books on Amazon: http://smarturl.it/helensmithbooks
There is some bonus material, including fantasy casting and locations for my books and interviews with other authors over at Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/emperorsclothes
About Helen Smith:
Helen Smith is a British novelist who lives in London. She is the author of two cult novels about a woman who joins an all-female detective agency in London (Alison Wonderland and Being Light) as well as a dystopian novel, The Miracle Inspector, and the Emily Castles Mysteries, which can be read in any order. Her books have reached number one on Amazon in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and Germany. Her work has been optioned by the BBC.