French Friday : Her Cupcakes and Mine

Wherever you live in the U.S., I bet there is a place nearby that carries French macarons. When I lived in France you could glance at them through the windows of fancy salons de thé, particulary in Paris. That was it.

Americans go gaga over macarons. And the French are crazy for cupcakes. Which didn’t exist in France until fairly recently.

As for me I baked my first batch of cupcakes for my oldest daughter’s birthday somewhere in the mid 1990s in California. Cupcakes are very popular with school-age kids. It makes sense due to their individual size and to the countless decorative possibilities. With kids away from home I no longer bake cupcakes, but I always explore dessert recipes. Especially when I have to use an ingredient that could go to waste. Which was the case with a huge container of strawberries on Wednesday. The weather was warm, so I decided to make a no-bake dessert with strawberries.

On Wednesday, my friend Katie Cross released her novel You’ll Never Know, the third book in The Health and Happiness Society series.


This cupcake makes me want to bake. And eat, too.

Rachel has lost weight. Lots of weight. For months now she follows a healthy diet, exercises regularly, and stays away from her beloved frosting-covered cupcakes. Rachel should be proud of her achievement and be content. After all, she’s healthier than ever and looks fantastic. But she may have shed pound after pound Rachel still sees the chubby girl she used to be whenever she glances at a mirror. Exercising has soon become an obsession. Now training for a marathon, Rachel ignores her best friend’s advice when she suggests slowing down. No way. Rachel must run this marathon. Her life depends on it. Only then will she be truly successful and happy. But when Rachel trips on the treadmill and badly injures her ankle, the marathon is soon out of the question. Rachel fights against her physician’s orders and still believes that she can make it in time for the run. For now, however, she’s unable to train and is losing herself.

In You’ll Never Know Katie Cross tackles the topic of women’s relationship with food, the quest for perfection and everlasting happiness with a set of relatable characters. Rachel’s mother is, as it is often the case, the reason behind her daughter’s unhealthy relationship with food. She’s a binge eater and even though she’s not instantly likeable, she still loves Rachel and will grow through the novel. Because she has her own reasons for hiding her broken heart behind bottomless bowls of cereals, loads of bacon, and super sized sodas.

Fortunately for Rachel she has her friends, the rocks that keep her sane when she feels lost. Each one of them has her own personal story and relationship with food and exercise too, but like the musketeers, the young women have each other’s back.

Rachel, on the other hand, has never trusted men and has preferred serial dating to the risk of an honest relationship. And when one young man she really liked stuck around she broke up. Was she afraid to be liked in return? This will change, though, when she meets an intriguing young musician who slowly becomes a friend.

At the heart of the story there is the bakery, the lovely Frosting Cottage, the place of temptations that Rachel wants to avoid at all costs, but can’t any longer when one of her friends offers her the chance to work there. Initially 100% against, Rachel finally accepts, now that she can’t train for the marathon and needs a job to stay away from her depressed and depressing mother. Now not only surrounded by delicious looking cupcakes she must also bake them. And frost them. Rachel’s living her worst nightmare. And yet, this is while working at the Frosting Cottage that she will start therapy – first against her will – and embark onto a real change journey that will bring back her early childhood and take her to the roots of her problems.

There is a lot to love in this novel. Being a French native I adore desserts and perhaps even more making them, so I particularly enjoyed the bakery setting and the baked goods’ yummy descriptions.

Whether sharing Rachel’s exact same life experiences or not, You’ll Never Know will resonate with any young or older woman dealing with the destructive power of self-hate and the illusion that the way you look affect your level of happiness.

In any life situation hope is never out of reach, even when it seems inaccessible. You’ll Never Know remains a positive novel, which tells of the power of female friendships, the importance of professional therapy, the necessity to forgive self and others, and the realization that happiness comes from within.

This is a novel by a woman for women. Best read with a cup of coffee or tea and a cupcake too.

Chance is you’ll want to buy one from the Frosting Cottage. They are the bomb. Too bad they are also fictional. So if you want a real summer cupcake, you may want to try mine.


Not as impressive, but cute, no?

Here’s the recipe.

Although a three-step recipe should be easy as a pie, I managed to mess up. I read 4 cups of strawberries and not 2 1/2. Which was great to use most of the strawberry container but a bad idea since the frozen yogurt would drown under. So I added a little bit of vanilla extract. Also, I didn’t have any snap cookies at home but some lemon thins. I figured that the recipe was already tweaking a typical cupcake recipe, so I went along my mistakes.

There was a consensus of opinion among my small home-based culinary judges.

Husband and wife agreed. Not bad these Strawberry Fro-Yo Cupcakes.

Now, here are the different places where you can find Katie’s novel You’ll Never Know. I hope you’ll give her a chance.








  1. Almost anything is better with tea and a cupcake !

    • In my friend’s novel the cupcakes are 100 % mouthwatering. Which explains why Rachel wants to avoid the bakery at all costs. But as you say cupcakes can be pretty powerful. For her the Frosting Cottage becomes her chance to change.
      And yes, the combo tea cupcake is a winner. Even on a bad day, the comfort is quite amazing.

  2. Your cupcakes look lovely, I can taste those strawberries! And the novel sounds like a good way of exploring those tricky relationships we have with food.

    • I had never made frozen cupcakes before, but for hot summer days it’s nice to skip the oven baking 🙂
      All of us have tricky relationships with food, you’re right, since food is much more than just fuel for our bodies.
      Thank you, Andrea, for stopping by. See you on your blog.

  3. Behind the Story says:

    I, too, would be afraid to work at the Frosting Cottage. I’d be tempted to take just a little taste every time I stirred the frosting. Our culture has so many opportunities to eat sweets, and many of them are associated with celebrations like birthday parties. When I took a three-week trip to China, we ate so much delicious food, and yet I lost a little bit of weight. At least at the that time, the Chinese didn’t eat very many sweets.

    It sounds like a good book. Thank you for sharing it.

    • This Frosting Cottage is yummy. Two combined jobs on my bucket list: a bookstore where I would have sold baked goods 🙂
      Like you, I love good Chinese food. Unlike you, I’ve not traveled to China. The best places to eat Chinese away from China when we live in the U.S. are (in my opinion) in California and particularly in SF and LA. Desserts are not a Chinese cuisine forte, but I adore the few, especially anything with red bean.
      My friend (although we’ve never met) is an inspiration, since she never stops exploring different kinds of writing. This series is about women’s relationship with food and their bodies and the illusion that happiness comes from the outside. Positive message that will talk to young women lacking self confidence.

  4. As you imply Evelyne, Katie’s book wouldn’t be for me but it sounds like an entertaining and incisive story.

    As to Rachel and the cupcake bakery, I recall the dream holiday job for students in my native Birmingham. Cadbury’s took on a number of casual workers each year. You’d think that there would have been a ban on eating the chocolate. No, not at all. They knew full well that, after two or three days of sampling the goods you were sick of chocolate 🙂 Maybe it works with cupcakes too.

    • Definitely a book for women, Roy 🙂
      Too funny about Cadbury! I’m sure I’d loved the job as a student. I adored Cadbury’s Fingers. When I was a kid they advertised it with kids asking, “Hey, Mr. Cadbury, why don’t you make them a little longer?”
      I agree with your point. As a student I worked as a cash register in a supermarket. The woman who was in charge of the bakery liled me and took me under her wing. At the end of the day unsold pastries which could not be stored for the following day had to be thrown away. Instead she gave them to me. I thought I had landed in heaven and stuffed my face with eclairs, croissants, fruit tarts…
      Before the end of the week I gave most to my friends 🙂
      They never got tired of the croissants that they could keep longer in the fridge and reheat in the oven. As for me, it didn’t last, but I was sick of baked goods for the entire summer.

  5. I have a fridge full of fruit I need to use, but I think my stuff needs cooking by now. I’m going to have to do my own cookbook search!

    • I regularly check my fridge, now that we are only two people at home on a daily basis. It took me a while to adjust my grocery shopping and mistakes still happen 🙂
      Since I have a sweet tooth this is my excuse to make desserts.
      Thank you for stopping by, Marilyn.

  6. Where would we be without friends, cupcakes, and macarons? Your cupcakes look delicious – I have a basket of strawberries that are waiting to be tried in your recipe. Oh, You’ll Never Know looks like a fun summer book to read.

  7. My sweet tooth is always asking for sustenance !!!! Have bookmarked the heavenly cup cake recipe to use in summer… in the Antipodes we’re in soup mode…!!!

  8. Cupcakes a recent fad with the French? Hmmm…however there is a daintiness about cupcakes..

  9. Wow! I can’t imagine the French being into mug cakes! I have made them occasionally and the first one we ever made with the kids was an absolute novelty watching it rise up like a monster in the microwave.
    They recently had open day at my kids’ high school and the home science people had made loads of cupcakes and we could go in and decorate our own. These were proper cupcakes made with butter cake, which I can never buy anywhere and proper butter icing, which I could apply in liberal spoonfuls. It was a wonderful indulgence. Indeed, after reading your post, cupcakes could well be on the menu tomorrow. Do they count as a meal?
    Best wishes,

  10. I love your kids’ high school! I used to bake cupcakes for my kids too, when they were in elementary and middle schools. They would bring them for their birthday or any other special occasion. Now it is harder, due to stricter food safety regulations, at least in California. Too bad, since homemade baking is far superior and unique to storebought baked goods.
    And yes, I think that cupcakes or anything we love can count as a meal. At least, occasionally 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: