Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sweet Revenge

A very warm welcome to Andrea Penrose.  Her new mystery series, set in Regency England, is sure to appeal to our history buffs, anglophiles, chocoholics, and mystery lovers.  Um, that covers just about all of us, doesn't it?  Here's Andrea!

My new historical mystery series, which kicked off last month with the debut of SWEET REVENGE, is all about intrigue, revenge, murder  . . . and chocolate! Now a number of people have asked me—did edible chocolate exist in Regency England (this, is, was Jane Austen eating bonbons?) Well, the answer may surprise you—it’s yes!

Several years ago, for my “real” job, I interviewed the head of a gourmet French chocolate company, which was originally founded by Marie Antoinette’s personal physician, and was fascinated to discover some amazing tidbits about the Regency and chocolate. So, when I started to create my heroine, Lady Arianna Hadley, her Caribbean background suddenly made an expertise in chocolate a perfect ingredient to her character.

Researching chocolate provided a number of delicious little discoveries. (Yes, I know, it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!) Marie Antoinette complained about the unpleasant taste of her medicines, so her physician came up with the idea mixing it into a solid form of chocolate—a pistole or wafer-like disc that the Queen is said to have adored.  (The company, Debauve & Gallet, still offers Pistoles De Marie Antoinette . . . a 1.7 lb box costs the queenly sum of $200.) Her favorite flavor was said to be almond milk.)

What to know more about the history and lore of chocolate? Each chapter of SWEET REVENGE opens with a tidbit of history and a chocolate recipe, so I hope you will enjoy it! To whet your appetite, here’s one of the recipes—a sinfully delicious confection I call “Sweet Revenge” brownies!

Sweet Revenge Brownies

1 stick unsalted butter, plus 3 T
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus 4 oz. reserved
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 extra large eggs
1 T instant coffee
1 T vanilla
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 c walnuts

1. Preheat over to 350.

2. Melt the butter, 6 oz. of the semi-sweet chocolate and the unsweetened chocolate in a pan set over simmering water. Cool slightly.

3. In a large bowl stir together (don’t beat) eggs, coffee powder, vanilla and sugar. Add melted chocolate mixture and stir gently until well mixed. Cool to room temperature.

4. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder. Add to the chocolate mixture. Toss walnuts and remaining 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips together, and stir into batter. Grease and flour a baking pan (I like a 9x9” one so the brownies are thick, but you may prefer a 9 x 12”.) Spread batter evenly in pan.

5. Bake 20 minutes in top oven shelf. Switch to middle shelf and bake another 10-15 minutes.

For more information and fun historical facts on chocolate, please visit Andrea’s website at:

Have you heard about Wendy Watson's contest?

In honor of the June 7 release of A Parfait Murder (the third Mystery a la Mode), which features a story line about the Lantana Round-Up Rodeo Queen Pageant, she's giving away a little cowboy couture:  a leather and rhinestone cuff, and a “rodeo queen” keychain.

To enter, send proof of purchase of A Parfait Murder (either a receipt, or a picture of you holding the book, by e-mail to  Put the words “Parfait Giveaway” in the subject line.
Good luck!


  1. Welcome to Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, Andrea! I'm looking forward to enjoying your brownie recipe...and your Sweet Revenge mystery, which sounds just as delicious!

  2. Welcome, Andrea. Love the brownie recipe, and the historical and factual aspects of your series sound lovely and intriguing! Love the Sweet Revenge branding. Clever.


  3. Thanks, Elizabet and Susan! It's such a treat to be here! (Loved meeting you at Malice, Avery--your cheese books are delicious!)

  4. Andrea, thank you so much for joining us today. Too bad Marie Antoinette's wafers are so expensive. Wouldn't they be fun to try?

    I love your Sweet Revenge brownie recipe, too. They'll be on the menu as soon as company comes my way to help me eat them. Not sure I can trust myself with a pan of brownies!

    ~ Krista

  5. Greetings, Andrea. Marie Antoinette was a chocoholic? Ha! Who knew? Forget that spoonful of sugar. An almond milk pistole is clearly what helped the meds go down.

    Cheers to you and congrats on the pub of SWEET REVENGE. Chocolate in Regency England is a delicious combination, and your novel's plotline sounds like a thrilling ride. The brownies look delectable, too. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe today in our Kitchen.

    Eat with joy,
    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse

  6. Thanks for having me, Krista! I confess, I'm having friends over tonight and am serving brownies for dessert! Hey, it's research, right,!

    And thanks, Cleo. I have some fun stories on Napoleon too! He commissioned a special chocolate treat to commemorate one of his battle victories. Chocolate definitely plays a interesting role in history. I hope you enjoy Sweet revenge.

  7. Fascinating post. I think I read that at certain times in American history drinking chocolate, instead of tea, was the popular thing. The brownie recipe looks great. Cheers!

  8. Yes, chocolate was very popular, both in England and America, Mollie.. Hope you enjoy the brownies!