STICK ‘EM UP! by Charlene Sands

The cake pans and cookie sheets that is, right onto the baking rack!! 

It’s a SURRENDER kind of season for me, so with the holidays in mind, I thought I’ll surrender my favorite recipes, if you’ll surrender yours!  And even if you don’t, I’ll still share, because I’m that kind of girl.   


In our house we have quite a few favorites.  The one recipe my daughter and I make every Christmas Eve are Cannoli.  It’s taken us several years to perfect the recipe (when the older generation is gone..sometimes so goes the recipes)  but we think we have it nailed down.  We use metal cannoli tubes that we wrap the dough around and deep fry until they bubble up and become golden brown. Then we make fill the cannoli shells with a creamy concoction that brings back luscious memories of my childhood.   They are usually all gone by the time Christmas day rolls around.    

Melt in Your Mouth Butter cookies are also a FAMILY FAVORITE and very easy on the budget.  They literally do just melt in your mouth.  The prep time on these is just twenty minutes, but you must make sure to soften (not melt) the butter ahead of time before you start. 

Melt in Your Mouth Butter Cookies

1 Cup Butter (creamed not melted).

6 Tablespoons Confectioner’s sugar

2 Cups Flour

1 Tsp vanilla

1 Cup finely chopped nuts (optional)


Cream butter and sugar, add other ingredient. Knead well, roll into small balls and flatten slightly with fork
(You may need to powder sugar the fork if dough is sticky)

Bake 12-15 minutes in moderate oven 350.  (Cookies will not look cooked on top, check them underneath)
While hot…shake powdered sugar on them. 

Makes 24-30 cookies

We eat them plain, but you can add almonds, walnuts, raisins or chocolate chips. Trust me they are delicious and they truly melt in your mouth!!


Another FAMILY FAVORITE that’s quick and easy is the Best Flourless Cake recipe.  People will think you’re a gourmet chef when you put this gorgeous dish on the dessert table.   It’s a cross between the yummiest brownie and richest chocolate cake you’ve ever eaten.  In the words of Rachel Ray…YUMMO!


Best Flourless Chocolate Cake  

4      ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)

1     stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

3/4  cup sugar

3     large eggs

1/2  cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for sprinkling


Preheat oven to 375°F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of wax paper and butter paper. 

Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth. Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. 

Add eggs and whisk well. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate. (Or serve it in the dish – I never invert)

Dust cake with additional cocoa powder and serve with sorbet or fresh fruit if desired. (Cake keeps, after being cooled completely, in an airtight container, 1 week.) 

Serves 8 to 10 

**Cake is also called Cracked Cake- not to worry if it looks like a brownie on top.  It’s all good!

 What are your family favorites?   Do you like to bake during the holiday season?  What’s your go-to recipe when the family is clamoring for dessert? 




Sunset Surrender is available now at the Harlequin Store  

In bookstores and online January 2013

Click here to read the entire FIRST CHAPTER!





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22 thoughts on “STICK ‘EM UP! by Charlene Sands”

  1. Your recipes sound wonderful. My very favorite that my mother made every year was divinity and try as I might I have never duplicated it. Another is a rum wafer cookie which took Rockwell Rum Wafers. Unfortunately they are no longer availlable and nothing else seems to work as well. A favorite that I discovered many years ago in a wedding gift cookbook is a Danish Puff Pastry and another from the same cookbook is Toffe squares. Love baking for Christmas but don’t do much anymore because of diabetes unless I am going to give it away.

  2. I love to bake, Charlene, and your recipes give me cravings.
    Alas, living alone, there’s nobody here to eat my creations but me–or my sweet, overweight neighbors who don’t need the calories either. So I save my baking for the occasional potluck party or when my grandchildren will be here.
    I have a great gingerbread recipe. And I like to make the pumpkin cake roll–the recipe’s on the small can of Libby’s Pumpkin.
    Meanwhile I’ll enjoy drooling over your gorgeous cover. What a man!

  3. Charlene,
    Those recipes look wonderful! I have a lot of my mom’s recipes, thank goodness. At one point, I am going to sit down and write them down and send copies to people in our family. My kids are truly not that interested in cooking–there’s no time anymore. My mom always made divinity too, and I can remember how happy she was when it “turned out”–weather conditions had to be just right–if there was too much dampness in the air it wouldn’t make right. Like Elizabeth, I love to bake more than any other kind of cooking. I have diabetes so I don’t do much of that anymore. BUT, last night I had such a craving for blonde brownies–the first thing I ever learned to bake, and a family favorite. I whipped those bad boys up and that was my dinner. LOL Love your cover! Best of luck with your sales, Char, and a very Merry Christmas. I’m going to try those butter cookies–they really look good.

  4. Hi Connie J – I love any dessert with run in it. But I never heard of Rum Wafers before, sorry they are not in business anymore. Well, you’re good to yourself for not eating sweets with diabetes. I know lots of people who don’t have that discipline. Thanks for the post today!!

  5. Hi Elizabeth – I usually don’t bake either, unless we have family or company over. My hubby and I are always watching our weight. But my kids love dessert, usually I make the flourless cake, or chocolate chip cookies. Traditionally, we make cannoli, pumpkin bars, butter cookies and my mother’s S Cookie recipe for Christmas. I try not to eat too much.

    Thanks for the note about my hero. The art dept got it right and it’s wonderful!!

  6. Hi Cheryl I’ve never made divinity and now two people have mentioned them. Also, what’s a blonde brownie?
    The butter cookies are amazingly easy, but the key is to make sure you soften the butter, don’t melt it. And as you can see, there isn’t a lot of sugar in them, which I like.
    Thanks for the cover love!

    Merry Christmas!

  7. Char, those blonde brownies are just so scrumptious. Here’s the recipe. They are wonderful and the best thing about them is that you usually have everything on hand to make them–so simple and so good. I noticed what you said about the softening of the butter–I’ll remember that when I make those butter cookies. Hope you enjoy this blonde brownie recipe.


    4 eggs
    1 tsp. Vanilla
    1½ cups flour
    2 ½ cups brown sugar
    ½ tsp. salt
    1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
    ½ cup (OR MORE!) choc. Chips
    Preheat oven to 350 F.
    Beat eggs well. Add brown sugar gradually, beating until well mixed. Add vanilla, flour, salt and mix well. Add chopped nuts and mix. Pour into a greased, 9×13 pan and sprinkle chocolate chips over top of the batter. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes (depending on your oven). This makes a 9×13 pan of brownies. You can half this recipe for an 8×8 pan, and reduce cooking time to 25 minutes.

  8. Hi Charlene, oh, yummy. Thanks for the recipes. As you know, hubby is the chef in our house, but at holiday time, I do get in the mood. My favorite recipe…and what the neighbors are getting AGAIN for Christmas, is my Aunt Grace’s Banana Bread. It’s delish…and easy. Merry Christmas to all at your house! xoxo

  9. Oh my goodness! I can almost smell those cookies and that flourless cake now. Yummy! My mouth is watering. It’s a tradition in my family for me to make sausage cheese balls, fudge, and a cherry cream cheese pie. I do it every year and everyone loves them. These traditions are wonderful at keeping the home fires burning and everyone happy and content.

    Wishing you lots of success with your new book. It looks great.

  10. Hi Linda – I saw Valerie Bertonelli making sausage cheese ball rolls on The Chew, and want that recipe. They sound yummy! Oh… and cherry cream cheese pie? Just the name adds a pound or two to my hips!! Thanks for the well wishes and same to you. Merry Christmas!

  11. I usually have to make the Pecan pies every year at Christmas. I enjoy getting with my son and we make some candies for Christmas. He usually don’t come to the kitchen to help cook or learn to cook but if its candy or baking something he is right there to help. Right now we are waiting for his college classes to finish and then we will start our candy making for Christmas.

  12. Wow, Charlene, this sound fantastic.
    I mean seriously, I need to just go now and start baking.
    You do know I’m on a DIET right? So shame on you!

    A family favorite that is super simple at the Connealy household is CONNEALY CRUNCH…and no, you can’t change the name of the recipe to SANDS CRUNCH (although that is an interesting name)
    Fast, simple, delicious, the trifecta of recipes.

    Connealy Crunch
    2 pound package White Almond Bark (melted)
    Melt in microwave 1 ½ minutes. Stir. Melt 1 ½ minutes. That should be enough. You might need slightly longer. Almond bark doesn’t lose its shape when it melts so you have to stir it to see if it’s enough. Stir In:
    3 C. Captain Crunch Peanut Butter Cereal
    3 C. miniature marshmallows
    3 C. Rice Krispies
    3 C. mixed nuts
    Spread out on waxed paper. Let cool. Break into pieces.

  13. Hi Quilt Lady – It’s always more fun to bake with someone else, isn’t it? Especially if it’s your son! I love making candies, although I’m not very good at it. I haven’t made any in several years now. What kind of candy do you make?

  14. Hi Mary – thanks for the recipe! Wow, Sands Crunch, now that has a ring. And I bet it’s low cal too? (Just dreaming!) I’m tring hard to picture it. Does it look chocolately or more like rice crispies treats. You say break it off, so does that mean it’s like bark? Just wondering.
    Sigh… and yes, I’m watching my weight too. Have to get into a dress for my nephew’s wedding on Dec 29th. How cruel, right? No holiday sweets for me this year, but I’ll bake like a fool for others.

  15. Charlene, That flourless cake does look YUMMO! Thanks for the recipe.

    I love to bake, but Christmas has always been my Dad’s time to put on the apron and get to work, and we just help. He starts early and whips up a selection of goodies including: caramels, toffee, fudge, chocolate covered peanut butter Ritz, pumpkin roll, etc.

    My contribution is sugar cookies. Every year I make a batch and then spend hours decorating (driving my Mom nuts). 🙂


  16. Hi Kirsten – I love family traditions that include baking together. Decorating cookies is a lot of fun!! Wonderful that your dad cooks. I have visions of when my dad donned an apron and cooked for us. He wasn’t a baker, but pretty good with main dishes. Great memories!

  17. Charlene, Thanks so much for the recipes. I’ll be trying the cookies for sure.
    I love to bake for the holidays, or anytime for that matter. I don’t because then I would eat it : )
    We make Gingerbread Cookies of course, Bourbon Balls, Sour Cream Crescents, Filled Cookies (my paternal grandmother’s recipe), Sugar Cream Pie (also her recipe), and Mincemeat Pie. My mother made a wonderful cherry and date cake roll, but she passed away before I got married and I haven’t been able to get the recipe. My aunt’s had it, but it just didn’t turn out right. Forty years later I am still trying. (My step-mother threw out all my mom’s recipes and our family pictures. She was a bit of an evil nut.)

    Hope you have fun baking for the holidays and have a wonderful Holiday Season.

  18. Hi Patricia B – Oh, the Bourbon balls sound great. So does the Sugar cream pie!! Sorry about not being able to retrieve the Cherry and Date cake roll…I wish I’d gotten some recipes from my grandmother and aunt before they passed on. Happy Holidays to you too!!

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