March 5th, 2021
Home | Log in!

On Top Shelf
Rebecca ZannettiRebecca Zannetti
Fresh Pick

New Books This Week

Latest Articles

Slideshow image

Since your web browser does not support JavaScript, here is a non-JavaScript version of the image slideshow:

slideshow image
A gift from the gods…
Can unleash hell…
in a thrilling Night Rebel novel

slideshow image
They’re hunting a killer so silent, so invisible, that his unspeakable crimes are the only proof he exists.

slideshow image
Second-chance romance about love, loss, finding yourself, and getting lost in the right person.

slideshow image
Wise and witty novel about a fired advice columnist who discovers lost and found family members in Charleston

slideshow image
Paranormal Women's Fantasy

slideshow image
Every bloody thread has been leading to this . . .

slideshow image
Can an awkward bluestocking transform into a beauty?

Grab your best read in March!

Barnes & Noble

Fresh Fiction Blog
Get to Know Your Favorite Authors

Valentine's Day Recipe Roundup: KILLER CONTENT by Oliva Blacke

Vegan-Friendly Cake Balls

Killer Content
Olivia Blacke




Barnes & Noble


Apple Books

Google Play

Powell's Books


Indie BookShop

Brooklyn Murder Mystery #1

February 2021
On Sale: February 2, 2021
304 pages
ISBN: 0593197887
EAN: 9780593197882
Kindle: B08817HQXT
Trade Size / e-Book
Add to Wish List

Also by Olivia Blacke:
Killer Content, February 2021


Looking for a Galentine’s Day treat? Author Olivia Blacke has a vegan-friendly cake ball recipe that is sure to delight. KILLER CONTENT’s amateur sleuth, Odessa, works at a bookstore/cafe and has a great group of co-workers and friends to share this with during after-hours fun.

Of course, we’ll be back tomorrow with the next featured author during the week-long Valentine’s Day Recipe Roundup—hope to see you again!

KILLER CONTENT’s (Feb 2, 2021, Berkley) Odessa Dean isn’t much of a cook. When she decides to leave her hometown of Piney Island, Louisiana for a summer in the trendy Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, she’s overwhelmed by the unique and ever-evolving flavors of New York City. From food trucks to pop-up eateries to the eclectic menu at Untapped Books & Cafe where she works, there is always something new for her to taste. As much as she loves sampling unique dishes, she doesn’t have a lot of experience in the kitchen.

Not that it would stop her from trying to make something fun and tasty for her friends when they decide to throw a Valentine’s Day party after hours at the cafe!

While cake balls and cake pops might be blase in Brooklyn where there’s always a new food trend, cake balls were still a popular treat at parties back home in Louisiana. Plus, they are easier to transport than decorated cupcakes. Odessa’s culinary expertise might be limited, but while they are messy, cake balls aren’t particularly challenging to make. Normally she makes them from a boxed cake mix and pre-packaged frosting. However, she’d never exclude her best friend, Izzy, who is a vegan, and will go out of her way to make the cake balls vegan. With just a little searching on the internet, she easily finds delicious vegan substitutions. If you or your friends aren’t vegan, lactose intolerant, or allergic to eggs, you can use the non-vegan instructions on the box, or you can try the substitutions for the fun of it.

First, Odessa would start out with a cake mix that was already vegan. By scouring the ingredients, she was able to determine that both Pillsbury and Betty Crocker Strawberry and Duncan Hines Pink Velvet didn't have any meat byproducts in them, and they were all a pretty Valentine-appropriate pink.

The instructions on the Strawberry cake called for her to use eggs. A quick internet search showed her that she could use 1/4 cup of applesauce or 1/2 a mashed banana per egg as a substitute. The Pink velvet called for both butter and eggs instead of oil, so Odessa goes with the easier strawberry option.

Using vegan replacements from soy milk to applesauce in recipes and mixes can be hit or miss, and can sometimes literally fall flat. However, cake balls are particularly forgiving. It doesn't matter if the cake comes out thin, lopsided, or even too dry since it's all going to be crumbled up in the end!

(photo from Eating on a Dime)

Step One: Make the Cake


  • One vegan-friendly cake mix (Odessa selected Betty Crocker Strawberry)
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup oil
  • 3 eggs or substitute such as 1 ½ mashed bananas or ¾ cup applesauce (Odessa chose the applesauce option)


  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Follow directions on box, except substitute eggs for a vegan alternative if desired
  • Once cake is baked, remove from oven and use a pair of forks to break the cake into crumbles. This works best while the cake is still warm, but be careful not to burn yourself or scratch your favorite cake pans!

Next, Odessa needs a vegan icing. Surprisingly, many of the commercially available pre-made icings are already vegan. However, Odessa's friend Izzy tends to avoid some of the bright, artificial dyes used in more colorful icings, so she chose a creamy vegan vanilla icing. Betty Crocker’s Whipped Fluffy White and Rich and Creamy Vanilla Frosting are both vegan.

Step Two: Mix up the Cake Balls


  • One can of premade icing (Odessa selected Betty Crocker Creamy Vanilla vegan icing)


  • Scrape the cake crumbles into a mixing bowl
  • Scrape the icing into the mixing bowl
  • Using a large spoon or spatula, hand mix the cake crumbles and icing until combined
  • If you have a medium (~2 inch) cookie/ice cream scoop with a trigger, it’s very easy to scoop the batter into uniform balls without getting too messy. If you don’t have a cookie scoop, use a large soup spoon to scoop up the batter and form it into balls.
  • Place the balls into the freezer for ½ an hour or into the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to let them cool and harden – otherwise, they’ll fall apart during the final step.

Finally, Odessa normally coats her cake balls in melted baker’s chocolate bark. Luckily, her local grocery carries several vegan white chocolate options, including Gefen Wonder Melts wafers.

Step Three: Decorate the Cake Balls


  • Meltable white or milk chocolate bark or wafers, or vegan alternative
  • Candy sprinkles or decorating sugars


  • Line cookie sheets with wax paper
  • Melt baker’s chocolate or meltable candy substitute according to directions on the package
  • Remove cake batter balls from the refrigerator or freezer
  • One by one, dip the cake batter balls in the melted chocolate and move to wax paper
  • Before the chocolate coating has a chance to harden, decorate as desired with candy sprinkles
  • Serve at room temperature

Unlike Izzy, Olivia Blacke isn’t a vegan, but has been vegetarian most of her life and is always happy to experiment with vegan alternatives. She loves to bake and even makes her own dog cookies. Just to clarify, those are cookies made for her dog, not cookies made of dogs. In KILLER CONTENT (Feb 2, 2021, Berkley), Odessa Dean works at Williamsburg’s Untapped Books & Cafe, where she serves a variety of delicious dishes the creative cook invents, and occasionally solves murders.


COMMENT TO WIN: What’s your favorite thing to do with your friends? Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Olivia’s debut cozy mystery, KILLER CONTENT. US and Canada only; good luck!

You can see our earlier posts here:

Marina Adair

Lorraine Heath

Olivia Blacke


KILLER CONTENT by Olivia Blacke

Brooklyn Murder Mystery #1

Killer Content

It's murder most viral in this debut mystery by Olivia Blacke.

Bayou transplant Odessa Dean has a lot to learn about life in Brooklyn. So far she's scored a rent free apartment in one of the nicest neighborhoods around by cat-sitting, and has a new job working at Untapped Books & Café. Hand-selling books and craft beers is easy for Odessa, but making new friends and learning how to ride the subway? Well, that might take her a little extra time.

But things turn more sour than an IPA when the death of a fellow waitress goes viral, caught on camera in the background of a couple's flash-mob proposal video. Nothing about Bethany's death feels right to Odessa--neither her sudden departure mid-shift nor the clues that only Odessa seems to catch. As an up-and-coming YouTube star, Bethany had more than one viewer waiting for her to fall from grace.

Determined to prove there's a killer on the loose, Odessa takes matters into her own hands. But can she pin down Bethany's killer before they take Odessa offline for good?

Mystery Cozy [Berkley, On Sale: February 2, 2021, Trade Size / e-Book, ISBN: 9780593197882 / eISBN: 9780593197899]

Savvy sleuthing, great characters, New York setting: a Killer new series!

About Olivia Blacke

Olivia Blacke

Brooklyn Murder Mysteries author Olivia Blacke writes quirky, unconventional, character-driven cozy mysteries. After shuffling around the U.S.A. from Hawaii to Maine, she currently resides with her husband and their roly-poly rescue puggle, but is forever homesick for NYC. In addition to writing, disappearing into a good book, and spending way too much time on social media, she enjoys SCUBA diving, crocheting, collecting tattoos, and baking dog cookies.





22 comments posted.

Re: Valentine's Day Recipe Roundup: KILLER CONTENT by Oliva Blacke

Go to the movies
(Tanja Dancy 8:39am February 7)

I enjoy getting together at one of our homes, snacking and having something nice
to drink, and just visiting. We may discuss books, movies, what we have been up
to, and plan for something special.
(Patricia Barraclough 12:15pm February 10)

Go to the movies, shopping, or just hanging out and talking.
(Meredith Winn 2:37am February 10)

Planning a visit to a museum or garden or other destination and having a picnic.
(Linda Gawthrop 6:40am February 10)

I love having game nights with my friends!
(Tracy Urschler 8:59am February 10)

Just sitting and talking - or walking and talking. Plain ol'
(Nancy Reynolds 10:41am February 10)

I love to go to antique auctions or flea markets,yard
sales,,aka Junkin with my friends
(Vickie Couturier 11:27am February 10)

I enjoy dinner out (well, used to) and playing cards
(Debra Guyette 12:17pm February 10)

Having a meal together. We usually spend the entire time
discussing books.
(Jana B 12:55pm February 10)

go on vacation...
(Martin Bodnar 6:16pm February 10)

Before the pandemic, we would go to the movie theatres.
(Susan Jang 3:31am February 11)

A friend of mine used to live across the horse pasture
from us so I would go to church with her, eat dinner
after or even to town to get groceries. Then she moved
closer to town as she was 78 at the time and then we
chged to every Wed night we would go to dinner and then
go to her condo and do crafts. That went on till Feb of
2020 when covid hit since then I have not seen her
although I do call her every night as she is a widow and
i want her to have someone to talk to. When hubby makes a
big dinner he always runs some in to her like Tues he
made cheddar broc soup and he took that in last night
lasagna and today will run that in as she hasn't cooked
in many many years.
(Peggy Clayton 12:46pm February 11)

My favorite thing to do with friends is to talk and share
food. I tried to make cake balls once and it was not pretty
even with the cake molds. Your method seems a lot better.
(Alyson Widen 11:50pm February 11)

traveling and going out to lunch
(Kimberly Miller 12:17pm February 12)

My favorite things to do with my best friend are talking,
going shopping and eating at a nice restaurant.
(Anna Speed 12:48pm February 12)

I've recently taken up hiking and I absolutely love it.
Getting out in nature is an amazing stress reliever.
(Shelley Butcher 4:19am February 14)

We like to take long walks and talk. Bike and swim too.
Discuss books.
(Laurie Gommermann 11:46am February 14)

We like to hang out with drinks and munchies and talk about
anything and everything
(Glenda Martillotti 4:34pm February 14)

I like to walk or hike with friends, with a stop for coffee
or a snack.
(Nancy Krueger 5:35pm February 14)

I love going out to eat and to the movies with friends.
(Victoria Kondovski 6:34pm February 14)

Get together and gossip! Of course, if there are margaritas involved all the
(Joy Isley 2:33pm February 15)

Play Uno and Yahtzee
(Bridget Smalley 7:29pm February 18)

Registered users may leave comments.
Log in or register now!


© 2003-2021  all rights reserved Privacy Policy