Showing posts with label Easter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Easter. Show all posts

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Coconut French Toast - fun for brunch

By Victoria Abbott aka Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini



We were thinking about something fun to have for a Saturday brunch on this Easter weekend, when eggs are so appropriate.

Our friend Joan Boswell mentioned that she’d recently served Coconut French Toast.  We couldn’t get that idea out of our minds and dived into this project on day when we were four adults and a child for brunch.  Luckily, seven-year old Connor was with us and  also in the mood to cook.

We were very happy with the results: tested three times until we think it’s just right. You, of course, can rejig your version to suit yourselves.  Victoria, who doesn’t eat anything with a face, thought for those who do, it would be very good with crisp bacon on the side. 



6 extra large eggs at room temperature  (we're showing four, but that was for a smaller amount)
1 ½ cups of coconut milk, can shaken first.
1 ½ cups shredded sweetened coconut
1 tsp almond extract
2 tsp vanilla
Pinch salt
8 - 9 slices rustic French bread (not baguette!) about ½ inch thick
Maple syrup and sliced strawberries or other berries to serve


Preheat oven to 475 F. 

Grease two baking sheets.

Whisk eggs, coconut milk, vanilla, almond and salt until well-combined in a bowl. 

Transfer to a shallow baking dish. Place the coconut on a large plate.  Dip the bread slices one by one into the egg mixture, turning to absorb egg into both sides. 

Dip both sides of the slices in the coconut.  

 Transfer to baking sheets. 

Bake, turning after five minutes, until golden brown and cooked through, about five minutes a side.  If the coconut starts to burn, you may need to lower the heat and add a few minutes. 

Serve with maple syrup and berries. 

We loved the results and hope you will too. Baking the French toast is easier than using a frying pan or griddle and the clean-up’s a breeze. Having said that we will try it on our griddle as soon as we find where it’s hiding. 

Coconut French toast been added to our easy weekend entertaining menu as of this minute.  

The shadowy figure known as Victoria ABBOTT is actually the mother daughter collaboration of artist Victoria Maffini and her mystery writer mother, Mary Jane Maffini.  Together they have created four books in the popular book collector mystery series.  

The fifth book, THE HAMMETT HEX will be out in October 2016 but you can preoder it  HERE
or at your favorite source for new books.
If you missed THE MARSH MADNESS, make sure you catch up!  JUST CLICK HERE 

Happy Easter!  However you celebrate (or if) we hope this weekend is full of flowers, chocolate, family and love. 

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Friday, April 3, 2015


by Sheila Connolly

Easter to me brings back memories of the heady smell of chocolate (eggs, bunnies, and a lot of other forms) combined with Easter lilies. My parents used to hide paper eggs, large and small, filled with candy and other goodies, around the living room (never outside—which is why some of those paper eggs have survived!) and my sister and I would scramble to find them behind the furniture. If we survived the sugar rush and sat down to dinner, I have no clue what the menu was there. Isn’t chocolate enough?

This particular recipe includes carrots, which makes it even more appropriate for Easter. And since my husband and I do not need to consume a dozen or more cupcakes each, we thought we’d share with our bunnies (they're mostly our daughter’s, but one of them is mine—he followed me home from Malice Domestic last year!).

It's a bunny party!

Chocolate Carrot Cupcakes


I had a helper (that's Dexter)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups finely shredded carrots (about 4 medium carrots)
1 6-oz. package semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease your baking pans (even if they’re non-stick—the chocolate chips tend to stick to the pan even when the batter doesn’t).

In a large bowl, cream the butter, oil and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and beat until smooth.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix until well blended.

This was really yummy--I licked the bowl (after)

Stir in the shredded carrots and chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the pans, filling about 3/4 full. (Since the batter is sticky, it’s easiest to use a scoop or even a measuring cup to keep them consistent.) Bake 20-25 minutes or until the sides of the cakes begin to pull away. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.


1-1/3 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 3-oz packages cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 Tblsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla

Beat all the ingredients in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth.

Spread the frosting on top of the cupcakes and garnish. (This is a really tasty recipe--you could use it for a lot of things.)


I was aiming for an Easter egg look, so my cupcakes are round, kind of. I also sprinkled them with little ducks and chicks. The rabbits seemed happy with them.

My antique candy mold

Since I'm right between book releases, I thought I'd tell you about this cookbook from Mystery Writers of America, released just last month by Quirk Books. I have a recipe in it, as do MLK pals Lucy Burdette and Daryl Wood Gerber, plus a lot of friends who have been guests here in the past--and a lot of authors whose names you will recognize! I'm particularly fond of Lee Child's contribution, the last in the book, titled "Coffee, Pot of One."

You can find it at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, or in a local bookstore (check Indiebound for your nearest one).

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How to Make ANGINETTI - Italian Lemon Cookies for Easter by author Cleo Coyle

In my big Italian family, these light lemony cookies with a sweet glaze often made their appearance during the holidays. With colorful sprinkles added, anginetti make wonderful cookies for Easter. The bright lemon flavor is perfect for welcoming spring, and because the dough can be formed into many traditional shapes, the cookies are fun to make with children. Even the littlest ones will be able to add the colored sprinkles...

FYI - These colorful sprinkles (nonpareils) are what make these cookies especially popular for Italian weddings. And if you've ever been to an Italian wedding, then you know about the cookie table. In my family, those tables were always piled high with homemade specialties from cousins, aunts, mothers, and grandmothers of the bride and groom.

As for the anginetti, the sprinkles evoke the longstanding wedding tradition of giving guests almonds coated with hard-sugar shells as favors. Because almonds have a bittersweet taste, they represent the truth of married life, but the sugarcoating represents the hope that the newlyweds' life will be more sweet than bitter. 

May these cookies add
little sweetness to your life...

Cleo Coyle has a partner in 
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here or here.

Cleo Coyle's Anginetti
Italian Lemon Cookies

This recipe is very close to one made by my beloved late aunt Mary. I've mentioned Aunt Mary on this blog in other recipe posts. She was born in Italy, and she helped my mother raise me and my sister, Grace.

For years, I was her little assistant cook, and I always think of her with love whenever I make a recipe she taught me.

My beloved aunt,
Mary Capaccio

Buona Pasqua, Aunt Mary, 
I miss you and love you!

May you all have a

happy Easter season...

~ Cleo
CLICK HERE to download this
recipe as a 
free PDF document
that you can 
print, save, or share.

Cleo Coyle's Anginetti
(Glazed Italian Lemon Cookies)

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup white granulated sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract

1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest (grated from rind, no white pith)

1/8 teaspoon table salt (about two pinches)

3 large eggs (lightly whisked with fork)

1/4 cup whole milk

4 teaspoons baking powder

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 

Step 1 – Make your dough: Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in the vanilla and lemon extracts, lemon zest, and salt. 
Add the eggs and beat for a full minute until light and fluffy. Add the milk and baking powder and beat for another 30 seconds. Finally, blend in the flour, but take care not to over-mix at this stage or you will develop the gluten and your cookies will be tough. The dough will be soft and sticky. Be sure to chill the dough at least 1 hour—cold dough is easier to work with. AND use flour-dusted hands when working with the dough. If storing overnight, take out dough, pat into a disc and tightly wrap in plastic.

Step 2 – Bake: Preheat your oven to 350 F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon sheets or lightly coat surface with non-stick spray. Use floured hands to work with your sticky dough. Break off pieces and form into one or more of these classic shapes. 

For lemon drops, simply roll pieces of dough into 1-inch balls. 

For love knots, roll pieces of dough between palms to form ropes. Tie the ropes into small knots. Again, be sure to pre-chill the sticky dough and use flour-dusted hands when working with it.

For rings, form the ropes into circles instead and press ends together. If needed, use a drop of water to act as glue.

Bake about 10 to 15 minutes.

NOTE: Do not overcook. The cookies will not brown on top, so look for a light golden browning on the bottoms. See my photo. Baking time of 10 to 15 minutes will vary, depending on your oven. For mine it's 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool before glazing and decorating.

Step 3 – Make the glaze: 
Into a bowl sift 2 cups powdered sugar. In a separate, small bowl place 4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (you should be able to extract this from 1 large lemon). Add 2 teaspoons pure lemon extract and 2 teaspoons water

Add the lemon juice mixture to the sifted confectioners’ sugar. Fork-whisk until the glaze reaches the consistency you wish. If the glaze is too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar. If too thick, add a bit more water and blend until smooth.

(See my photos to help you gauge how
 the glaze on the cookies should look.)

TO GLAZE COOKIES: Dip the tops of cooled cookies into the glaze, turn once or twice, then lift, letting the extra glaze drip off. Allow the cookies to sit on a rack undisturbed until the glaze sets (about 15 minutes). Sprinkles must be added while the glaze is still wet. Again, allow the glaze to dry before serving.
download this recipe as a
free PDF document that you can
print, save, or share, and...

Stay Cozy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries 

Friend me on facebook here. * Follow me on twitter here
Learn about my books here

* * *

Once Upon a Grind:
A Coffeehouse Mystery

* A Best Book of the Year
Reviewer's Pick -
King's River Life

* Top Pick! ~ RT Book Reviews

* Fresh Pick ~ Fresh Fiction

* A Mystery Guild Selection

Delicious recipes are also featured in my 14th 
culinary mystery, Once Upon a Grind, including...

* Black Forest Brownies 
* Cappuccino Blondies 
* Shrimp Kiev 
* Dr Pepper Glazed Chicken
* Silver Dollar Chocolate Chip Cookies
* "Fryer Tuck's" Ale-Battered Onion Rings
* Poor Man's Caviar 
* Caramel-Dipped Meltaways

...and many more recipes, including
a guide to reading coffee grinds...

See the book's
Recipe Guide (free PDF)

* * * 

Marc and I also write
The Haunted Bookshop

Get a free title checklist,
with mini plot summaries, 

by clicking here. 

Or learn more about the
books and meet Jack Shepard,
our PI ghost 
by clicking here. 

Sign up for my Coffeehouse Newsletter here.
(Recipes, contests, videos, fun info)

* * * 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes #recipe for Easter

From Daryl aka Avery:
Ever since I went to brunch with two little cutie boys who craved the muffins offered at the buffet (muffins which I couldn't eat because they were made with wheat flour), I've been on the quest for the perfect gluten-free lemon muffin. 

I've made a couple recipes, and I'll share those in the future weeks to come--all were good--but this week, because we're coming up on Easter, so I thought I'd share the "perfect" lemon meringue cupcake.

It's Kismet, isn't it, when a recipe you've been craving appears in a foodie magazine that shows up on your doorstep the very next day?

My husband, another cutie, is a Food Network junkie. He doesn't cook. He salivates. So he ordered the Food Network Magazine for the house. I've got to say, there are tons of good recipes, well laid out, many with gorgeous pictures. How can I resist thumbing through it? I don't have anything better to do, do I? (Ahem, yes, write...)

Anyway, I found this delicious recipe. It has three total steps. I only did two and was really satisfied! I'll include the third step if you are extremely industrious. [I've had a few too many kitchen disasters to ruin what was already perfect after the second step.]

I have to admit, I was a little leery about the amount of oil included in the recipe. It just didn't measure up to other recipes I've made. Proportions matter in chemistry. But these are the most moist cupcakes I've ever made gluten-free, and they have lasted a week without drying out. I know, how could they last a week if they're that good? Well, my sweet hubby is on a no-carb diet (bad me for filling the house with delicious aromas), and I'm pretty good at limiting myself to one a day. 

Enjoy! And for those celebrating the season, Happy Easter. May the light shine!!!



The batch made 12 cupcakes PLUS 6 minis.


 For the cupcakes:

2 large eggs
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
1 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
¾ cup vegetable oil
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons (2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups GF flour (I used Sweet Rice/Tapioca)
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon baking poder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt

For the meringue:
2 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
¼ cup water
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

For the glaze: (optional)
2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 tablespoon lemon-flavored liqueur (optional)
6-7 drops yellow food coloring (optional)


Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. (My batch made 12 plus 6 mini muffins) Whisk the eggs, sugar, milk, vegetable oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla in a large bowl until combined. 

Whisk the GF flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl until combined. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix on medium high. Don’t over mix.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling them to just below the rim. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20-22 minutes (depending on your oven). Let cool 15 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

The minis came out a perfect golden.
I might have cooked the larger 1 minute too long. It made them browner, but the same consistency and taste.

Don’t start making the meringue until the cupcakes are out of the oven. Beat the egg whites and salt in a large bowl, using a mixer on medium speed for 1 minute. Increase the mixer speed to high and add in 2 tablespoons of the sugar.  Beat until shiny peeks form, about 3 minutes.

Combine the rest of the sugar (6 tablespoons), the corn syrup and ¼ cup water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until the mixture registers 245 degrees on a candy thermometer. Do NOT over cook!!  About 6 minutes. 

Remove from heat. With the mixer on medium, slowly pour the hot sugar syrup into the egg whites; increase the speed to high and beat until the meringue is fluffy and cool, about 6 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. [I didn’t have one; I used a spoon.] Pipe the mixture onto the cooled cupcakes; set aside at room temperature to firm up, about 15 minutes.

I DID NOT DO THE REST OF THE RECIPE, but here are the instructions. Make the glaze: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, limoncello and food coloring in a microwave-safe bowl until smooth. Microwave the mixture 1 minute, then whisk again until the sugar dissolves; let cool about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Dip the meringue-covered tops of the cupcakes into the glaze [MY FEAR WAS THE MERINGUE WOULD SLIDE RIGHT OFF; I WAS CHICKEN.] Let any excess drip off [sort of like you would dipping an ice cream into chocolate]. If the glaze gets too thick, microwave 20 seconds.

The magazine’s cupcakes were much, much prettier than mine. I can't show you (for copyright reasons) but trust me. The cupcakes rose above the edges of the paper cups, like they were supposed to.  Let’s hear it for professional bakers…not to mention, gluten-free just doesn’t rise the same way as regular flour. At least not for me. Sigh.

But, boy, was this batch ever tasty!!! 

***If you wish to make these with regular flour, simply swap out the flour and OMIT the xanthan gum! All the rest of the steps are the same.


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