Sunday, July 4, 2010

Guest Author Mary Jane Maffini

Happy fourth of July!!!!

Please welcome our guest author Mary Jane Maffini who has a new book out: Closet Confidential!!!

Mary Jane Maffini is a lapsed librarian, a former mystery bookstore owner, a previous president of Crime Writers of Canada and a lifelong lover of mysteries.

In addition to the four Charlotte Adams books, she is the author of the Camilla MacPhee series, the Fiona Silk adventures and nearly two dozen short stories. She has won two Arthur Ellis awards for best mystery short story as well as the Crime Writers of Canada Derrick Murdoch award. She is having fun with the fifth Charlotte Adams adventure: The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder (Berkley Prime Crime 2011) and says she’s grateful for all the tips she gets from Charlotte. Mary Jane lives and plots in Ottawa, Ontario, along with her long-suffering husband and two princessy dachshunds. Visit her at

Take it away, Mary Jane!

A cool and easy way to celebrate!

There’s so much to celebrate today and this week. And I’m not sure how you feel but on these hot humid days, I don’t want to be stuck in front of that oven baking those celebration desserts. But what to do when there’s a need to celebrate? Or it’s your turn to bring dessert to a family gathering? Or friends arrive in town with little notice? Help! It’s too hot to cook and it’s too humid to shop. That’s when you need Ice Cream Torte — my favorite cheater’s summer cake —in your freezer. This dessert started off life being known as Luscious Mocha Ice Cream Torte, but now, it’s always a big surprise. It depends on what ice cream I have in my freezer and what liqueurs are hanging around the house. This cake is always requested at every family birthday party or shower in the summer. For my mother-in-law’s eightieth birthday, four tortes with twenty candles each were paraded out to the outdoor dinner area as night fell. Spectacular, but easy. Of course, you’ll have to have cones or sundaes for the small fry, but that can be delegated.

Keep in mind when you read the lengthy list of instructions, this is very easy to make and the amount of hands-on time is probably about as long it takes to read the recipe.


Cookie crumb base

Your favorite combo of ice

cream (at least two flavors – preferably with a color contrast)

Whipped cream ‘icing’

Dollop of booze


If you don’t mind the oven on for ten minutes:

Mix 1 ½ cups chocolate cookie crumbs

6 tbsp butter, melted in microwave

3 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp liqueur – chocolate, coffee flavor or whatever you love – or have on hand!

Can’t stand the heat? Just make your favorite unbaked cookie crumb crust.


1 ½ quarts ( in total) of your two favorite compatible ice cream flavors.

Naturally, you could get away with more or less. For Canada Day, I used Dutch chocolate and French vanilla with chocolate brickles. It’s wonderful with coffee ice cream and cappucino duet too. But you’re the cheater. You choose!

4 tablespoons liqueur – chocolate, coffee-flavored. You can use rum, whiskey or bourbon if you want. It’s best if you use a different flavor from the crust, but again, go with what you have.


½ cup chilled whipping cream

1 tsp espresso powder or 2 tsps. Cocoa powder. Or both. Why not? If these don’t go with your ice cream flavors, find something that does.

1 tbsp powdered sugar

Crust: Preheat oven to 350 if you dare. Mix cookie crumbs., sugar, melted butter and liqueur. Press into bottom of spring loaded pan. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes. Chill.

Filling: soften darker of the two ice creams while crust is cooking. Add 2 tablespoons of liqueur. Spread over chilled crust and freeze for at least one hour. Go read a mystery.

Soften second ice cream container and blend in remaining 2 tablespoons of liqueur. Spread over first. Chill one hour. Back to your book.

Whip cream with cocoa or espresso powder (or whatever flavor you’ve chosen) Toss in a bit more liqueur if you’re not driving.

Smooth over top of ice cream like icing. You can omit this step and put whipped cream and fruit on top if you prefer. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings or your favorite cake toppers. I used dark chocolate covered espresso beans in the latest version.

Wrap well and freeze at least two hours or overnight. You can relax now! This cake keeps well in the freezer, but someone will almost certainly hunt it down and eat it before long.

When ready to serve, remove from the springform pan and transfer to a cake plate. It can be tricky to get the crust off the bottom and you may need a sharp knife for that. At night, we often serve this with sparklers, but again there are no rules, except to keep it frozen. The only thing you really need is two kinds of ice cream.

People say to me in amazement: ‘You made this? Wow!’ I look suitably modest. And isn’t that the kind of sweet deception we want when we’ve been working so hard in the kitchen on a hot summer day?

I’m happy to say, I have an Ice Cream Torte ready to mark the arrival of Closet Confidential, the fourth Charlotte Adams mystery, which hits the shelves on July 6th along with Avery’s Long Quiche Goodbye and Riley’s Delicious and Suspicious. Who wouldn’t celebrate being in such good company?


By the way, Avery's "You be the Sleuth" contest ends in 24 hours, at the end of July 5th. The winner will be announced July 6th, so get hopping. Enter before it's too late.

Avery’s first book in A Cheese Shop Mystery series, The Long Quiche Goodbye, debuts July 6. To celebrate its release, Avery is running a contest from June 9 to July 6! [Not really true since the 6th is the announcement day. It ends July 5. Silly, Avery.] Anyway, you be the sleuth! Track down the recipe on Avery's website that includes eggs, Edam, and white pepper. Enter your answer by clicking on this link: CONTEST ENTRY FORM.

One of you will win a $25 gift certificate at your favorite bookstore. Two of you will win signed copies of The Long Quiche Goodbye. Three of you will win a Long Quiche Goodbye magnet. You can ask friends for help. Spread the word and share the fun. And while you're there, consider pre-ordering a book on Avery's booksellers page.

Here is the link to Avery’s website to help get you started.


Thank you, Mary Jane, for being our guest. What a great recipe! Can't wait to try it!

(P.S. Yes, I am silly. The dates of the contest have me befuddled. I can't imagine how the rest of the readers feel! Forgive my befuddled-ness.)


  1. I love this recipe, Mary Jane! Especially the addition of the liqueurs. I can't wait to try it!

    ~ Krista

  2. I love recipes with ice cream. Will definitely have to try it without the liquor.

    Happy Independence Day for those in the states.

  3. This sounds like just the thing for the 4th of July, MJ! I think my hubby and I may try it tonight. :) Thanks so much for coming by today and congratulations on your Tuesday release! I can't wait to read "Closet Confidential!"

  4. This sounds yummy. Can't wait to try it. Congratulations on the release of your book, it sounds very interesting.

    Happy Fourth of July to all the ladies at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen.

    Thoughts in Progress

  5. Thanks, Krista. You are a tough act to follow, miss diva!

    Dru Ann - we often make it without liqueurs. It's all part of the fun of cheating with this recipe.

    Elizabeth/Riley - I am very excited about your new book Delicious and Suspicious. I loved your voice in Pretty is as Pretty Dies.

    Mason - I hope you like Closet Confidential! Warning: contains small naughty dogs.

    Closet Confidential: a Charlotte Adams mystery

  6. Small naughty dogs. So many people love to read about small naughty dogs. They can get into everything.

    Thanks, MJ for joining us and sharing such a tasty treat! I know your book will be terrific!


  7. This sounds like so much fun. I can't wait to try it, MJ. Thanks for sharing your secret easy recipe and being with us here today. I cannot wait for CLOSET CONFIDENTIAL as well as Avery's THE LONG QUICHE GOOD-BYE and Riley's DELICIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS! So much great reading ahead for me!

    Now... to go pick up some ice cream!


  8. "Sweet deception" -- great thought -- and an amazing summer dessert recipe. Congrats on CLOSET CONFIDENTIAL's release, MJ! Hope you can kick back and enjoy yourself. You've earned it.

    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  9. Did someone say "ice cream"? Hee!

    For those who are wondering about the liquor, adding a little booze to ice cream keeps it from freezing as hard ... if you're not using the liquor, I would let the cake soften a bit before trying to cut it. Assuming you can *possibly* wait to dig in. :)

  10. Avery, you rock! I really appreciate being invited by you to MLK on this special day. And speaking of special days, The Long Quiche Good-bye is officially ‘born’ on July 6th. How exciting, but the suspense! I can’t wait.

    Thanks Julie. And thanks of mentioning Avery’s, Riley’s and my July 6th releases. I am so excited to be in their company.

    Hi Cleo. I have Espresso Shot by my lounger on the deck today. I’ll be reading it and sipping an ice cappucino.

    Wendy – you are the ice cream goddess! Thanks for that tip. BTW, loved your Peachy post over at I am looking forward to your visits here at MLK this summer.

    Closet Confidential: a Charlotte Adams mystery

  11. This sounds YUMMY! Happy 4th of July.

  12. Sounds delicious, and I suspect absolutely no calories, right? I love the image of four tortes with all those candles. You know how to celebrate in style!

  13. Thanks, Linda! So do you, that's why we've been known to celebrate together!

  14. The recipe sounds delicious.

    Good luck on both of your release dates!

  15. OMG!!!! I just got to this, yesterday fell apart. I am so making this cake this afternoon. Our temps are going to be close to 100 F. I think that this could be dinner. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I knew that I stock piled the booze for a reason. LOL

  16. Oh Mare - I knew you were happily Fourth of Julying! Hope you like the cake and hope yesterday was wonderful for you.