Showing posts with label banana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label banana. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Chocolate-Bottom Banana Bars and #CozyMystery #Audiobook #Giveaway from Cleo Coyle

In honor of National Banana Bread Day (no kidding), my husband and I  are sharing a fantastic banana bar recipe that we published in our 13th Coffeehouse Mystery.
Cleo Coyle has a partner in 
crime-writing—her husband. 
Learn about their books 
by clicking here and here.

Two layers of flavor and texture make these bars an outstanding treat. A soft banana cake layer floats over a rich, brownie-like base laced with chocolate chips.

It sounds complicated, yet it's very easy to make, and a perfect snack for afternoon coffee breaks or late-night noshing. These beautiful bars make a great home-baked gift for friends and family, too.

Now let's start baking!

~ Cleo

This giveaway is now over.
Congrats to our winner,
Melissa Nunez!

And don't miss the fun, new contests
coming up in our next
Coffeehouse Mystery Newsletter.
To sign up,
click here.

Cleo Coyle's 
Chocolate-Bottom Banana Bars

"Lovin' from the oven" is how coffee hunter Matt Allegro described these fresh-baked squares in one of our most popular Coffeehouse Mysteries, Billionaire Blend. And Matt was right. 
You'll notice we put a bit of earthy espresso powder in our chocolate bottom layer. Yes, we’re coffee fiends, but here’s the truth. You won’t taste coffee, only a more powerful note of chocolate. As bakers know, espresso powder is a way to deepen the flavor of chocolate in recipes.

These bars pair beautifully with coffee, espresso, and strong black teas.

May you bake them with love and eat with joy!

~ Cleo

To download this recipe in a free
PDF document that you can print,
save or share, click here.

Yield: 16 squares (one 9‑inch-square pan)


2 cups mashed ripe* bananas (about 4 to 6 depending on size)

*See my note at the end of this recipe to ripen bananas in the oven

1/4 cup sour cream 

3/4 cup canola oil (or cold-pressed coconut oil, melt before measuring) 

1/2 cup light brown sugar 

1 egg, lightly beaten with fork 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

1½ teaspoons baking powder 

1 teaspoon baking soda 

1/4 teaspoon table salt or finely ground sea salt 

1½ cups all-purpose flour 

1/4 cup baking cocoa 

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder 

1/2 cup chocolate chips 

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


Step 1—Prep oven and pan: First preheat your oven to 350° F. Line the bottom of a 9‑inch-square pan with parchment paper, allowing the ends to hang over the side like handles. You’ll use those handles to easily lift the baked banana bar slab out of the pan. Coat paper lightly with non-stick spray. Set aside. 

Step 2—Make batter: Combine your 2 cups of mashed bananas and sour cream with a fork. Add the oil, sugar, egg, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Fork-whisk well (or use an electric mixer) to blend until smooth. Now add your flour and mix until a lumpy batter forms, but do not over-mix at this stage.

Step 3—Create chocolate bottom: Remove 1 cup batter and place it into a separate bowl. Add cocoa and espresso powder, fork-whisking until the batter is smooth. Fold in chocolate chips, and (optional) chopped walnuts.

Step 4—Assemble and bake: Spread the chocolate batter across the entire bottom of the prepared pan. Take your time, using the back of a spoon to spread the batter all the way into the corners. Be sure the layer is even. Now pour your remaining banana batter on top and once again use the back of a spoon to even out the layer (otherwise your bars will bake up lopsided). Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.


TO RIPEN BANANAS FAST: Place yellow bananas on a foil-covered baking sheet and bake at 350 F. for 10 minutes, turning once. Bananas will blacken. Peel right away (be careful, they’re hot!) and cool flesh in fridge before mashing.
P h o t o s

Click here to download a free PDF
of this recipe that you can print,
save, or share.
Click here to download the PDF.

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

* * *

Our newest mystery is now
a bestselling hardcover!

Coffee. It can get a girl killed.

Amazon * B&N

Dead to the Last Drop

A "Most Wanted" Mystery Guild Selection
A Baker & Taylor Fall "Trends" Pick
Three "Best of Year" Lists

Dead to the Last Drop 
is a culinary mystery with 
more than 25 delicious recipes!

See the free illustrated 
Recipe Guide by clicking here.

*  *  *

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling works 

of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark 
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each 
of the 15 titles includes the added bonus of recipes.

(with mini plot summaries)

* * * 

Marc and I also write
The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

Get a free title checklist, 
with mini plot summaries, 

Or learn more about the books and meet 

Jack Shepard, our PI ghost by clicking here.



This Giveaway is Now Over!
Congrats to our winner,

Melissa Nunez!

My husband Marc and I are hard at work on our 16th Coffeehouse Mystery, scheduled for release this December. In the meantime, many of you have read our 15th title, Dead to the Last Drop, an exciting installment set in Washington, DC, now a bestseller in hardcover. 

Today we're giving away an autographed audio version of the book in a beautiful keeper CD format. 

TO ENTER, leave a comment on this blog post with your e-mail address (or another way to contact you, for example, you can let me know if  you are my friend on Facebook and I can get in touch that way, and feel free to Friend me if you aren't!)...

Now a bestseller in hardcover
and a "Most Wanted"
Mystery Guild Selection.

To learn more
about the book, click here.

This giveaway is now over.
Congrats to our winner,
Melissa Nunez!

Thanks to Blackstone Audio and
Penguin Random House
for sending us extra copies.

Good luck and may you
read (and listen) with joy! 
~ Cleo

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Guest Post from Victoria Hamilton plus Bananas Foster Muffins!

Learn more about Victoria
and her books by
clicking here.

It's always a pleasure to welcome talented author Victoria Hamilton to our kitchen. 

Today she's sharing a deliciously creative recipe for Bananas Foster Muffins and news about the upcoming releases in her three terrific mystery series, including her upcoming release in July, DEATH OF AN ENGLISH MUFFIN. 

Take it away, Victoria!
~ Cleo

~ :: ~

It’s been one of those weeks...long, tiring, extremely busy. I’m not the most organized person in the world, so when I got a sweet note late Thursday reminding me—gently—that my guest blog for Mystery Lover’s Kitchen was due, I kind of went into panic mode. I had promised Bananas Foster Muffins, right? Well, yes I had, and I had also gotten it into my head that I had another full week to get it ready.

However...I really love coming to Mystery Lover’s Kitchen, and I was not going to let down the gang. Sure, I may have the manuscript for book #3 of my Teapot Collector’s Mystery, (I write them as Amanda Cooper) THE GRIM STEEPER (February 2016) due on July first. And I have a typeset edit of Book #5 of my Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, WHITE COLANDER CRIME (November 2015) sitting on my desktop to get in ASAP. And a multitude of other things, but don’t we all have busy lives?

I am woman, hear me roar. Or whimper. Depending on the day.

But muffins are the perfect bake-ahead, or bake-in-a-hurry for busy lives; they’re forgiving, homey and delicious. How hard would it be to whip them up? So I went on working to deadline; draft two of THE GRIM STEEPER is done as I write this, at 3:44 pm Friday. Now to whip up the muffins...

I look at the recipe I’m adapting—who ever leaves a recipe alone?—only to discover I don’t have dark rum. Okay, I’ll use either white rum or rum extract. I can do this. here was a conundrum. I have no eggs. I distinctly remember using the last two eggs yesterday for lunch, knowing I’d be shopping Saturday, except...well, dang. Today is Friday, I need to get the blog in by tomorrow noon. Okay, all right, not to sweat. I have a carton of egg whites in the fridge; I’ll use those.

So here is the ingredient list using what I actually had, and let it be a lesson to you: keep a well stocked fridge. And liquor cabinet. Especially that. I’ll tell you how the muffins come out when I taste them.

Victoria Hamilton's
Bananas Foster Muffins

Makes: 12 muffins 

Note: Bananas Foster is a decadent dessert of sautéed rummy bananas served with vanilla ice cream. I don’t think I would serve these muffins with ice cream, but I hope the flavors of banana, rum, brown sugar and cinnamon, are reminiscent! 


1-½ cup very ripe mashed bananas. (3, from my freezer, in my case.)

½ cup golden brown sugar

1-½ cups butter, divided (1 Cup and ½ cup) (they said unsalted, but… well, I didn’t have unsalted, so I used salted and omitted the salt in the recipe)

1 Tblsp. rum extract (original recipe called for 3 tablespoons dark rum, but… well, you know. According to online calculations I used 1 ½ tblsp rum extract to substitute, but I think that’s a little much, so… use 1 tblsp.)

¼ cup white sugar

1 large egg (In my case, 3 tblsp. and 2 tsp. of egg white)

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

1-½ cup all purpose

1-½ tsp baking soda


1 – Preheat oven to 350° F.

2 – In a small saucepan melt ½ cup butter. Add the brown sugar and bananas and caramelize. (I found they didn’t so much caramelize as just slightly thicken, and begin to smell heavenly!) Remove from heat, add vanilla and cinnamon and allow to cool. 

3 – Combine remaining butter and white sugar in a separate bowl. Add the egg (in my case egg white) and rum extract, and mix well. Add the cooled banana mixture—it’s important that it’s cooled, or the eggs in the eggs, butter and sugar mixture will scramble—baking soda and mix well, then blend in the flour until just combined. Don’t overbeat muffin batter!

4 – Line 12 muffin cups with liners, and fill with batter. Bake at 350° F. for approximately 25 minutes, or until the toothpick test or spring-back test indicates they’re done. 
~ :: ~

Okay, so… I just took them out of the oven and they are actually delicious! I hope you like them. Curl up with a good book, a muffin, and a cup of Wynter Castle Blend tea!


A Merry Muffin Mystery

by Victoria Hamilton

From the national bestselling author of Muffin but Murder, baker Merry Wynter returns with a fresh tray of muffins and a case that has authorities stumped…

They say one’s home is one’s castle, but when it comes to Wynter Castle, Merry would like it to belong to someone else. But until a buyer bites, she could use some extra dough, so she decides to take in renters. The idea pans out, and Merry’s able to find a handful of tenants eager to live in a real castle. The only problem is most of them are crumby, tea-swilling old biddies.

The Legion of Horrible Ladies, as Merry calls them, is led by the terribly nasty—and fabulously wealthy—Cleta Sanson. The abrasive Englishwoman keeps everyone whipped into a frenzy—until she meets an embarrassing end behind a locked door. Evidence reveals that Cleta was murdered, yet no one is privy to how the deed was done. Merry knows she must quickly find the killer before another of her guests gets greased…

~ :: ~

Victoria Hamilton is the national bestselling author of three bestselling series, the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries and Merry Muffin Mysteries as Victoria, and the Teapot Collector Mysteries as Amanda Cooper. She is also the bestselling author of Regency and historical romance as Donna Lea Simpson.

Victoria loves to cook and collects vintage kitchen paraphernalia, teacups and teapots, and almost anything that catches her fancy! She loves to read, especially mystery novels, and enjoys good tea and cheap wine, the company of friends, and has a newfound appreciation for opera. She enjoys crocheting and beading, but a good book can tempt her away from almost anything… except writing! 

Visit Victoria's Website:

Friend Victoria on Facebook

Like her Merry Muffin Mysteries Facebook Page 

Follow her on Pinterest

Follow her on Twitter

Congrats to 

Victoria's Winner!

Prize Package 

1 copy each of


1 "Cozy up to a Good Mystery!" tote bag, and 

10 Wynter Castle Blend teabags! 

OPEN to Canadian
and US addresses only. 

This contest is now over.

Congrats to Tonette
whose comment was
randomly selected to win
the prizes above!

Thanks to everyone who entered!

~ Victoria

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Western Girl’s Take on a Southern Tradition

Please welcome this week's guest blogger Jacklyn Brady, who has a new book out (Rebel without a Cake--you've got to love the title!) just this week!

Thanks so much for inviting me to spend the day here at Mystery Lovers Kitchen. I’d like to say a special thanks to all the readers who have made the Piece of Cake series so popular. You certainly know how to make an author feel great.

As some of you know, I’m a western girl at heart. I was born in Utah, lived there for three weeks, and then moved to Montana, where I spent my Wonder Years. Until just five years ago, I’d spent my entire life in the West. And then, on an impulse born out of a desire to live close to my grandchildren, my oldest daughter and I moved to the Gulf Coast region and landed a couple of blocks from the beach in Northwest Florida.

This area is less like you might think of when you hear someone say “Florida” and more like Alabama. In fact, people sometimes joke that we live in lower Alabama, which really is true. I’m not complaining. The area is beautiful and the people are great. But I did land in a world of strange and unusual things—at least from the perspective of my western upbringing.

Take fried mullet backbones at your neighborhood picnic and sweet tea everywhere you look. Until I moved here I’d never even heard of a mullet – at least not the fish variety – and tea certainly didn’t flow like water.

One of the unusual things I noticed when I moved here was that banana pudding seemed to be everywhere, and people seemed to love it. That struck me as odd because banana pudding wasn’t a staple in my diet up to that point. On the rare occasions I came across a bowl of the stuff, it was most likely instant pudding made with banana flavoring and the nicest thing I can say is that I wasn’t a fan.

Everywhere I went those first few years it seemed banana pudding (and sweet tea) were there. At church get-togethers, holiday gatherings and the local buffets. Even at the local Chinese buffets. Since I thought I knew what banana pudding was all about, I never imbibed … until one day my daughter brought home a serving of the homemade stuff from a pot-luck at her place of work. That serving of homemade pudding changed my opinion forever.

And so, for those who, like me, have not grown up with an appreciation of the deliciousness that is a true Southern Homemade Banana Pudding, and who don’t have a family recipe they treasure, I give you this recipe. You can also find it in Rebel Without a Cake, available now at your favorite bookseller.

Homemade Banana Pudding

This recipe has been passed down for a few generations and, like so many recipes of its kind, information on serving sizes has been lost (if it ever existed.) I’m going to say this recipe will serve 12, but if you have a table full of folks who really love their banana pudding, it may only serve 6.

1 box vanilla wafer cookies
5 bananas (ripe but still firm work best)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
3 egg yolks
2 cups milk (I’ve made the recipe with non-fat milk and it’s deliciously rich and creamy. No doubt, it would be even richer and creamier if made with whole milk, but in my opinion it’s not necessary)
dash salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (as with any recipe, real vanilla extract produces a better flavor than vanilla flavoring)
whipped cream (You can use a prepared whipped topping if desired.)

Begin by placing a layer of vanilla wafer cookies in the bottom of a medium-sized mixing bowl. Place a layer of sliced banana over the top.

Repeat two more times with layers of wafers and the remaining bananas.

In a saucepan (or double boiler) on medium-low heat, combine the rest of the ingredients except the vanilla. Stir well with a wire whisk.

Allow to cook until thickened, stirring constantly to prevent scorching (about 15 minutes). You’ll want the mixture to thickened, but not too thick; otherwise, the wafers don’t absorb it well.

Add the vanilla and stir.

Immediately pour over the wafers and bananas. Let sit for about 5 minutes or so before serving, to allow the wafers time to absorb the pudding. Top with whipped cream.  (You can either top the entire pudding to serve to a group, or top individual servings just before service.)

Gather ingredients

Begin with one layer of vanilla wafers and top with a layer of sliced bananas

Combine the rest of the ingredients except the vanilla. Stir well with a wire whisk.

Repeat layers twice more.

Pour thickened custard over wafer/banana layers

Pretend not to notice the cat stalking the milk and eggs….

Top with whipped cream and enjoy!

Jacklyn Brady lives on the Gulf Coast and writes the Piece of Cake Mystery series which is set in New Orleans and features cake artist and trained pastry chef, Rita Lucero. 

Rebel Without a Cake, book #5 in the Piece of Cake Mystery Series, is available at your favorite bookseller now. Jacklyn loves to hear from readers. Connect with her on the web: Website | Facebook | Twitter