Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas Stollen

It's Christmas recipe week at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen! I have been waiting a long time to post this recipe. I included it in Not a Creature Was Purring, so the time has come. It's usually the very first thing that I bake for Christmas. While it's normally served at teatime in the afternoon with a nice cup of coffee or tea, we love it for breakfast! After all, it really is a yeast bread, even if it is sweet.

Traditional stollen is made with candied fruit. I don't find commercial candied fruit very appealing, so when the task of baking the stolen moved from my mother to me, I modernized it (don't you love the spin I give on changing up a traditional recipe?) with dried fruit. I'm partial to dried cherries and dried apricots, so that's what I use. But raisins would work well, too. Dried figs or dates would change up the flavor more, but if that's what you like, you could certainly try it. One word of caution—unsulphered apricots should taste the same, but they definitely won't be pretty when the stollen is sliced.

In Not a Creature was Stirring, I wrote about Trixie getting in trouble with the stollen. In real life, that event actually happened to my little Buttercup. I don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't read it, but if you have a dog whose collar says Santa, I can explain . . . keep an eye on that doggy while the dough is rising!

Do not take shortcuts when chopping the apricots. Trust me. Don't put them in any kind of food processor or chopper. You'll end up with a mess.

There's nothing terribly difficult about this recipe. There are a lot of little steps, so the recipe looks long. But there's also a lot of rising time when you can walk away for a bit. But be sure to place it well out of reach of dogs when it's rising! I do recommend baking this on a day when you have plenty of time and aren't rushing off to do other things.

The fabulous Kim Davis (no relation!) made my stollen recipe for her Cinnamon and Sugar blog. She even made a video of how to make it!

Krista’s Modern Christmas Stollen

For people only
1½ cups dried apricots
1¼ cups dried cherries
½ cup rum
¼ cup lukewarm water
2 packs of fast-rising instant yeast
¾ cup sugar + pinch of sugar
5½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into ¼-inch pieces
6-8 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
confectioners’ sugar

Chop the apricots and cherries with a knife (do not use a food processor) and place in a bowl. Pour the rum over them and let sit for 1 hour.

Pour the lukewarm water in a 2-cup or larger bowl. Sprinkle with the yeast and a pinch of sugar. Stir to help dissolve. Set aside (I put it in a cold oven) for 10–15 minutes. It should have doubled in size.

Pour the rum from the fruit into a bowl and set aside. Lay paper towels out, and spread with the fruit. Dab with additional paper towels to dry. Pour the fruit into a dry bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of flour. Turn several times to coat. Set aside.

Combine milk, ½ cup sugar, and salt in a heavy-bottomed pot and heat until the sugar dissolves and a thermometer registers 110°F . Remove from heat. Stir in the rum and the yeast mixture.

Fit dough hook into mixer. (This may be made by hand, but a heavy-duty mixer like a KitchenAid  is a big help.) Measure 4 cups of flour into a mixing bowl. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the milk mixture. Whisk the 2 eggs well, then add to the dough, and continue mixing. Slowly add as much of the remaining 1½ cups flour as needed. Mix in the softened 1 cup butter. The dough should begin to shape into a ball.

Dust your hands and kneading area with flour. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead 10–15 minutes until the dough is smooth and pliable. Incorporate the fruit by pressing it into the dough a bit at a time. Flour your hands as necessary and continue to add the fruit and turn the dough.
Grease a deep bowl with butter, place the dough in the bowl, flip it once to coat with butter, cover with a kitchen towel, and place in a warm area away from any drafts for 2 hours or until doubled in size. (A cool oven will work.)

Punch the dough down and divide into 2 pieces. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Working with one at a time, roll each ball of dough out into a rectangle roughly 12 inches long and 8 inches wide. Brush each with 1 tablespoon of melted butter and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Fold one side (of the 8-inch width) over about 2/3 of the way. Fold the other side over so that it overlaps the top of the first side by about 1 inch. Press the top seam gently. Shape it into an oval with floured hands as necessary, patting it so that it is approximately 4 inches across.

Prepare a very large cookie sheet or lipped baking pan by covering with parchment paper. Transfer the dough to the parchment paper, leaving at least 3–4 inches between the two loaves. Brush each with 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Place in a warm location away from drafts and allow to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake 25–30 minutes or until they are golden brown and crusty.

When cool and before serving, dust generously with powdered sugar .


The yeast rising.

Chopped dried apricots and cherries.

Dried fruit mixed with flour.

The dough.

Dough with dried fruit incorporated.

Fresh from the oven. All it needs is powdered sugar on top!


Have you read Not a Creature was Purring yet?
 I have one for someone's stocking! 
To enter to win, leave a comment with your email address so we can contact you if you win!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Lee's Simple Chocolate Mousse -- guest Kathy Krevat #recipe

LESLIE: Today we welcome our friend Kathy Krevat, who writes the terrific Chocolate Covered Mysteries as Kathy Aarons, and is debuting a new series, the Gourmet Cat Mysteries, as Kathy Krevat. She's offering one lucky reader an e-book of the first in the series, The Trouble with Murder!

Leave a comment below for a chance to win!

KATHY KREVAT: My husband, Lee, makes the best chocolate mousse! It’s very rich – not fluffy – and has an intense chocolate flavor. We make it only for dinner with guests so we don’t eat it all ourselves. Below are the results for a dinner for eight. 

We’ll be making it again for our annual New Year’s Day Brunch, which is more of an open house, so people can drift in when they finally wake up. For that, we’ll put it into small plastic cups to serve at least thirty.

Chocolate mousse has nothing to do with my new Gourmet Cat Mystery series, but I didn’t think a cat food recipe would be as delicious. And what human doesn't love chocolate mouse -- er, mousse?

Lee has used this recipe for over 30 years. The only time it hasn’t worked is when he didn’t use whole milk and when the milk wasn’t hot enough. Please note that it uses 3 raw eggs and take necessary precautions.

Bon appétit!

Lee’s Simple Chocolate Mousse 

1 cup hot milk - must be very, very hot - enough to boil (see instructions below)
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup sugar (or less depending on taste)
3 eggs

Note: The higher quality chocolate you use, the better the taste!

Pour chips into blender. Put milk in microwave and heat for one minute. Test the temperature. Then heat in 30 second increments until it is almost boiling.

Meanwhile, beat eggs in a small bowl.

Pour hot milk over chocolate chips. Blend until smooth. Add eggs to mixture and blend until mixed well. Add sugar to mixture and blend until mixed well.

Pour into serving dishes. Refrigerate for minimum 2 hours. Serve with or without whipped cream.

Yield depends on serving size. This recipe will make 8 servings, roughly a third cup each.

What sort of trouble does your cat -- or any kitty you know get into? Leave a comment below, with your email address, for a chance to win an e-book of THE TROUBLE WITH MURDER, first in the new Gourmet Cat Mysteries. Trouble the Cat will pick a winner at midnight, Monday, December 11. 

Single mom and gourmet cat food entrepreneur Colbie Summers thought she’d escaped her tiny California hometown forever. But when her father needs her, she packs up her adolescent son, their finicky feline, Trouble, and her budding business. She knows change is tough—but she doesn’t expect it to be murder . . .
Between dealing with her newly rural life, her grumpy, sports-obsessed father, and preparing to showcase her products in the local Sunnyside Power Mom’s trade show, Colbie has more on her plate than she bargained for. Luckily, she has her official taste-tester, Trouble, by her side to vet her 
Meowio Batali Gourmet Cat Food line. Things look promising—until one of the Power Moms is found dead—with an engraved Meowio specialty knife buried in her chest. 
As the prime suspect, Colbie needs paws on the ground to smoke out who had means, motive, and opportunity among the networking mothers—including a husband-stealing Sofia Vergara lookalike. And the cat’s still not out of the bag when a second violent death rocks the bucolic community. Trouble may have nine lives, but Colbie’s only got one to clear her name and stop a killer from pulling off the purr-fect crime . . .

Kathy Krevat is the author of the GOURMET CAT MYSTERY series and the nationally bestselling CHOCOLATE COVERED MYSTERY series under the name Kathy Aarons.

She lives in San Diego with her husband of twenty-five years, close to the beach, their two grown daughters and Philz coffee. Kathy’s an avid supporter of youth arts education and serves as president of the San Diego chapter of Sisters in Crime.

Follow Kathy on Facebook, Twitter, or at

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Banana Blueberry Muffins #mystery #CapeBreton #recipe #giveaway

Psst!  Read right to the end to get the details of the giveaway. Just sayin'.

On our holiday in beautiful Cape Breton this October, we were lucky enough to enjoy breakfast at a fabulous B & B, Colby House in Sydney, shown here ready for the holidays.   We are looking forward to seeing them again next year!

One morning banana blueberry muffins were part of the delicious menu.  They were outstanding. We asked the B & B owner, Bev Gabriel, for the recipe and she disappeared and reappeared two minutes later with it hand-written on a recipe card. The recipe turned out to be easy as well as yummy.  I’m sharing it with you because it brings back memories of a wonderful stay, a great trip and because I suspect that you want something easy and delish to have ready at a moment’s notice during the busy lead up to the holidays.  Or maybe you just want a treat with bananas and blueberries.  Enjoy!

I was particularly happy when a child who claimed not to like bananas or blueberries decided that these muffins were delicious! Knew it. 

Banana blueberry muffins


 You will need: 

1 extra large egg, room temperature
¾ cup white sugar
¼ cup butter, softened
3 ripe bananas
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups frozen wild blueberries (the small ones or they will turn everything blue)

Mash bananas in a large bowl.

Add sugar and egg. 

Add butter and combine well. 

Combine dry ingredients and gently stir into mixture.   Don’t overbeat. 

Add blueberries quickly and with the minimum of stirring, so they don’t turn everything blue.  

 Although we had been warned, we couldn’t find the small small frozen blueberries and had a few extra blue streaks but the taste was great. 

Transfer to 12 well-greased muffin cups.

Bake at 375 convection for about 20 minutes (or until done).

Mmm. Delicious!  

You can enjoy them warm from the oven or freeze to enjoy later.  They freeze really well!  

Just put them in freezer bag and you're set.  So if you need a break during this hectic season, pop one in the microwave for a few seconds, just long enough to warm it.  Add a little sweet butter and enjoy with a cup of hot tea.  
 After all, don’t you deserve a moment to yourself? 

In case you don't know, Victoria Abbott is a collaboration between  me, Mary Jane Maffini, and my daughter Victoria. Together we write the book collector mysteries.   We think that reading them is like taking a lovely trip to a wonderful place where books are everything and, yes, murder happens and great meals are served and some relatives are not to be trusted. Of course, justice prevails in the end and books are loved.  And we do trust our own relatives!

We love your suggestions and comments. Come on by and tell us  about B & B's you love or your favorite muffins.  Don't let us be lonely.

The book collector mysteries are fun, easy to read and surprising too. All five titles are available in print, e-book and audio format. Don't miss out.  Watch out for the Siamese cats - one is good and one will get you!