Friends! If you missed it this week, I got to reveal the cover for my sixth book, While We Were Dating, in Entertainment Weekly, and talk a little bit about the process of writing this book from start to finish during a pandemic (spoiler: it was not easy!). Here is the cover, and I love it very very much:
And here’s the description of the book:
Two people realize that it’s no longer an act when they veer off-script in this sizzling romantic comedy by New York Times bestselling author Jasmine Guillory.
Ben Stephens has never bothered with serious relationships. He has plenty of casual dates to keep him busy, family drama he’s trying to ignore and his advertising job to focus on. When Ben lands a huge ad campaign featuring movie star, Anna Gardiner, however, it’s hard to keep it purely professional. Anna is not just gorgeous and sexy, she’s also down to earth and considerate, and he can’t help flirting a little…
Anna Gardiner is on a mission: to make herself a household name, and this ad campaign will be a great distraction while she waits to hear if she’s booked her next movie. However, she didn’t expect Ben Stephens to be her biggest distraction. She knows mixing business with pleasure never works out, but why not indulge in a harmless flirtation?
But their light-hearted banter takes a turn for the serious when Ben helps Anna in a family emergency, and they reveal truths about themselves to each other, truths they’ve barely shared with those closest to them.
When the opportunity comes to turn their real-life fling into something more for the Hollywood spotlight, will Ben be content to play the background role in Anna’s life and leave when the cameras stop rolling? Or could he be the leading man she needs to craft their own Hollywood ending?
You can preorder While We Were Dating (in paperback, hardcover, audio, or ebook!) from your favorite independent bookstore (this Indiebound link should help you find it), Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, and everywhere else you buy books, including, as always, a signed copy from my local indie, East Bay Booksellers. And you can add it on Goodreads here!
I will make this last newsletter of 2020 short and sweet, but the sweetness comes from this cookie recipe I’m going to give you. A story about these cookies: every year, my cookbook club does a cookie exchange in December, where we all make many dozens of cookies and then get together to talk about them and exchange them. It is one of my favorite days of the year, and I’m really sad that we didn’t get to do it this year (we tried to come up with a safe way to do it, but eventually decided to postpone). Years ago, the below recipe was in the December issue of Gourmet magazine (one of the last Gourmet December issues), and my friend Jessica made it that year for our cookie exchange. Jessica sadly moved away, but these cookies are so delicious that someone usually makes them every year — they’re a real pain to make so often they’re a bonus cookie at the cookie exchange, so everyone gets just one or two. They’re sandwiched together with jam, which I love, but I might experiment this year with using caramel or even Nutella to sandwich them together, if you want to try that.
2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
generous 1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup jam of your choice (raspberry is great here), or caramel, or Nutella, or…
To make the dough:
Brown the butter: Fill your kitchen sink with about two inches of cold water, and put a big empty stainless steel bowl in the sink. Melt the butter in a two to three quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter has a nutty fragrance, turns golden, and flecks on the bottom of the pan turn brown. This takes about 10-12 minutes, do not leave the kitchen while this is happening, it is so very easy for butter to turn from perfect and golden brown to burnt, and it is always very heartbreaking when it happens. At first when you’re doing this, the butter will foam, then the foam will go away, then it will foam again, right before it browns. When it’s brown, pour the butter into the bowl in the sink, making sure to scrape in all of the brown flecks on the bottom of the pan (very carefully! you don’t want water to get in the butter!) to stop the butter from cooking more. Take the bowl out of the sink after a few minutes; wait until the butter has cooled all the way, then stir in the sugar and vanilla.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl, and stir into the butter mixture until dough forms. Shape into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and let stand at cool room temperature for one to two hours. If you’re tempted to refrigerate, don’t do it — it makes the dough really hard to work with.
To form the cookies:
Preheat your oven to 325 F. Take a teaspoon (not a measuring teaspoon, one from your cutlery drawer) and take a small chunk of dough — press the dough into the bowl of the teaspoon, and flatten, so one side is a dome and one side is flat. The dough is crumbly, but will come together when you press it. Slide it out of the spoon and put flat side down onto a baking sheet. Form all of the cookies this way. (I’ve seen some people roll the dough into a log and slice off cookies to make this easier, but I love the spoon shape). Bake until the cookies are just pale golden, 8-15 minutes (which I know is a wide time frame! These cookies are stay in the kitchen cookies, what can I say?). Cool on the cookie sheet on a rack for five minutes, then transfer to the rack and cool completely.
Assembly: While cookies cool, heat the jam in a small saucepan over low heat until just runny, then pour through a sieve into a small bowl, pressing hard on any solids, and cool completely (if you have seedless jam or jam without any solids at all, no need to do this step, though it helps to warm the jam up a little if it’s fridge cold). Spread the flat side of a cookie with a thin layer of jam. Sandwich with the flat side of another cookie. Continue with all of the cookies and preserves. Transfer to an airtight container. They’re even better after a few days, but excellent immediately too!
Happy holidays, everyone! I hope the end of this year is peaceful for you. I’m very grateful for all of you this year.