This Book Is Making Me Hungry + Review — Miracle at The Higher Grounds Cafe

20 Mar

There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Luke 15:10

000882What if you could ask God anything? What would you ask? And how would He answer?

Chelsea Chambers is on her own. After a public split from her NFL superstar husband, Chelsea takes a bold step out of the limelight and behind the counter of the Higher Grounds Café, an old-fashioned coffee shop in dire need of reinvention. But when her courage, expert planning, and out-of-this-world cupcakes fail to pay the bills, this newly single mom finds herself desperate for help. Better yet, a miracle.

Then a curious stranger lands at Chelsea’s door, and with him, an even more curious string of events. Soon, customers are flocking to the Higher Grounds Café, and not just for the cupcakes and cappuccino. They’ve come for the internet connection to the divine. Now the café has become the go-to place for people in search of answers to life’s biggest questions.

When a catastrophe strikes and her ex comes calling, Chelsea begins to wonder if the whole universe is conspiring against her quest to make it on her own. After a shocking discovery opens her eyes to the unseen world around her, Chelsea finds the courage to ask God a question of her own. Heaven answers in a most unexpected way.

 

MLucado-261More than 120 million readers have found comfort in the writings of Max Lucado. He ministers at the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Denalyn, and a sweet but misbehaving mutt, Andy.

 

 

My Impressions:

I confess that I have never read any of Max Lucado’s non-fiction books. I am a fiction gal and find it hard to get into most non-fiction. But when I saw that he had written his first novel, I just had to read it. Miracle at The Higher Grounds Cafe captured me from the beginning. Wonderful characters and a great setting add to this inspiring tale. This book is great for any fans of Max Lucado or for anyone who needs a little encouragement and hope that God is really listening.

Chelsea Chambers and her children have moved back to her hometown of San Antonio, Texas following her separation from NFL star, Sawyer. Reopening her mother’s cafe is challenging enough with her family changes, but a whopping tax bill puts Chelsea into panic mode. With some angelic help, Chelsea finds her faith and forgiveness.

Lightly written with plenty of chuckle-inducing moments, Miracle at The Higher Grounds Cafe still packs a punch on the spiritual front. Spiritual themes of forgiveness, the personhood of God and prayer are skillfully interwoven. A clever device is used to show how God wants to have personal relationships with his creation. Lucado also emphasizes that once prayers are sent up, they linger like a heavenly aroma. The book also gives a glimpse at how things on earth must look from the spiritual realm. I especially loved the scene where the angels are rejoicing when a character accepts the gift of salvation. Fun characters, inventive plot devices and mouth-watering cupcake creations are icing on the cake (pardon the pun!). Miracle at The Higher Grounds Cafe is definitely a must-read.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: older teens and adults.

To purchase this book click HERE.

(Thanks to LitFuse and Thomas Nelson for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Chocolate-Raspberry Layer Cake

GH0507H_chocolate-raspberry-layer-cake-recipe_s4x3.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscapeMain character, Chelsea Chambers bakes up scrumptious goodies in her cafe. One particularly yummy dessert plays a role in her dealings with a real estate agent. So in honor of Chelsea, here is a recipe for Chocolate-Raspberry Layer Cake  from Giada De Laurentiis (courtesy of the Food Network).

Ingredients

Puree:
One 12-ounce bag frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed

Cake:
Butter, for greasing the pans
All-purpose flour, for dusting
One 18.25-ounce box chocolate cake mix, such as Betty Crocker Super Moist Chocolate Fudge
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, such as Ghirardelli
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs, at room temperature

Frosting:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature

Fresh raspberries or chocolate curls for garnish

For the puree: Place the raspberries in a blender and blend until smooth (yields 1 1/4 cups of puree). Remove 1/4 cup of puree and reserve.

For the cake: Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour the bottom and sides of two 8- or 9-inch round nonstick baking pans. Set aside.

Place 1 tablespoon of the cake mix and the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Toss until the chocolate chips are coated.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining cake mix, 1 cup of the raspberry puree, vegetable oil, eggs and 1/4 cup water. Using an electric hand mixer, blend on low speed for 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Mix in the chocolate chips. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour.

For the frosting: In a large bowl, combine the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, butter, cream cheese and sour cream. Using an electric hand mixer, beat on low speed until smooth. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

In a small bowl, mix together 3/4 cup of the frosting and the reserved 1/4 cup puree until smooth.

To assemble the cake: Place one cake layer, flat side-up, on a cake stand. Using a spatula, spread the raspberry-chocolate frosting over the cake layer leaving a 1/2-inch border. Place the other cake layer on top. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining chocolate frosting. Decorate with fresh raspberries or chocolate curls. Using a damp knife cut the cake into wedges and serve.

Cake can be made 1 day in advance. Refrigerate in an airtight plastic container. Allow the cake to stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

 

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