One of the most common questions I get while promoting Life in Spades – whether at bookclubs or book festivals or (wo)manning my booth at a community event – is “are any of the characters based on you?”  The lovelorn baker, the don’t-wanna-be marathon runner, the divorcee, or the escort?  Nah.  All these friends climbed out of my imagination.  But that’s not to say that we don’t share some of the same characteristics, likes and dislikes.

Cookie, for instance, does have a dream job.  Baking all day in her self-owned bakery?  Would love it!  Absolutely.  During the holidays, I step into the full-time baker role. I don my apron, stack up my recipes (I often make the same cakes and pies, but have a terrible memory for recipes), pour myself a drink, and start baking.  My regulars are red velvet cake, pound cake, sweet potato, pecan and apple pies.  I supplement those according to my mood at the time – carrot cake, peanut butter cake, Hummingbird cake, upside down cake.  I really like the ten-layer Smith Island Cake, but haven’t made that in a while.


Chocolate cake is my ultimate favorite cake – chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, with chocolate ganache, with chocolate shavings… Get it?  But as much as I love it, well, I don’t need to eat too much of it or my next most popular activity will be buying new clothes.  I did however make a chocolate cake to bring in the new year.

I used a chocolate cake recipe from Southern Living, which has great, full-butter, all-sugar recipes from before the trend of healthy, low-fat, reduced sugar baking. And, as always, had to experiment with some aspect of it, so I went with the frosting.  Sitting on the kitchen counter was a new package of Caramel Crème Latte Drink Mix I had just unpacked from a Tastefully Simple order, so I decided to make Caramel Latte Frosting.

Use flavored coffee drink mix for a delicious cake frosting.

Use flavored coffee drink mix for a delicious cake frosting.

Caramel Latte Frosting

Mix the following together – in your mixer or by hand, your preference.  Makes enough to frost a 2-layer cake.

  • 2 sticks – butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 pound – confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ cup – Tastefully Simple Caramel Crème Latte drink mix.  Adjust to taste.  You could also try another powdered coffee mix you have on hand, for instance, International Cafe or something similar.
  • 1 tsp – vanilla
  • a few tablespoons of milk – for desired consistency

This tastes delicious with chocolate cake. Especially for people who may not like or want chocolate on chocolate.

Enjoy a slice with a hot cup of coffee.  And a good book.