Showing posts with label buttermilk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label buttermilk. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How to make Maple Bacon Breakfast Muffins from Scratch or Pancake Mix by Cleo Coyle

These delicious muffins deliver the taste of a pancake breakfast in one
bite, and today I'll share
 two ways to make them: from scratch or
a pancake mix starter.

A Brew to a Kill
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Culinary Inspiration

In the food truck wars of my latest Coffeehouse Mystery, A Brew to a Kill, a "cupcake queen" peddles a decadent buttercream-frosted maple bacon cupcake from her Vegas-worthy showboat of a Kupcake Kart. (I’ll be posting that recipe soon!) In the meantime, I give you the culinary counterpunch--a breakfast muffin worthy of being sold by my amateur sleuth, Clare Cosi, on her competing Muffin Muse truck.

Roast Mortem
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To create Clare’s recipe, I started with a good, basic maple muffin, using buttermilk for richness. Next I folded in caramelized bacon bits, made from a recipe that I first shared in my 9th Coffeehouse Mystery, Roast Mortem, a mystery that features arson (and firehouse recipes :)). I finished with a sprinkling of more candied bacon bits and a little, pre-bake drizzle of maple syrup. The result is an outstanding breakfast muffin that, in one bite, evokes the flavors of a classic pancake breakfast—bacon, maple-syrup, and a fluffy buttermilk flapjack. My husband (and partner in crime writing) flipped for these. I hope you do, too.

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Cleo Coyle’s Maple Bacon 
Breakfast Muffins

To download a PDF version of this recipe that you can print, save, or share, click here.

"From Scratch" Version

Makes 6 regular-size muffins (or 12 mini muffins) 


Caramelized bacon bits consisting of…
  (6 slices of bacon, smoked or maple + 6 teaspoons of light brown sugar) 

1 cup all-purpose flour 
1 Tablespoon light brown sugar 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt (if using table salt, use only a pinch) 
1 egg, lightly beaten with fork 
2 tablespoons canola oil 
1/3 cup + 1½ teaspoons pure maple syrup (not “pancake syrup," see note)*
1/2 cup buttermilk (I use light) 

*Note: “Pancake syrup” is not maple syrup. It consists of corn syrup flavored with maple extract. If you use pancake syrup instead of pure maple syrup in this recipe, be warned that your muffins will be dry. Use pure maple syrup for best results.


Step 1 – Make caramelized bacon bits: First preheat oven to 375° F. Muffins need a very hot oven to rise properly, so give the oven a good 20 minutes of pre-heating.  Meanwhile, cut 6 slices of bacon into small pieces. (Tip: I use kitchen shears.) Sauté over medium-high heat until half-cooked—still soft and flexible with fat just beginning to change color. Drain fat. Add 2 tablespoons light brown sugar. Stir and continue stirring over heat until bacon bits are cooked through but still flexible (do not cook until crisp and brittle). Transfer bacon bits to a plate, break up any clumps into a single layer. Set aside to cool.

 Step 2 – One bowl mixing method: Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until well blended. Make a well in the center. Add fork-beaten egg, measure in canola oil, buttermilk, and 1/3 cup of the maple syrup (you will use the final 1½ teaspoons from the ingredient list later). Whisk the batter until well blended, but do not over-mix or you’ll develop the gluten in the flour and your muffins will be tough instead of tender. The batter will be loose. Fold in the bacon bits, reserving enough to sprinkle over the muffin tops before baking in the next step.

Step 3 – Sprinkle and Drizzle: Coat 6 muffin cups and top of muffin pan with non-stick spray. If using paper liners, coat the papers as well as the top of the pan. Divide batter among the 6 sprayed or lined muffin cups. Sprinkle the reserved caramelized bacon bits over the top of each cup’s batter and drizzle a small amount (¼ teaspoon, no more) of maple syrup on top of the bacon bits and batter.

Step 4 – Bake: If baking standard muffins, check them in 15 minutes for doneness. If baking mini-muffins check them in 8 minutes. Muffins may need a few more minutes than stated, depending on your oven. They’re done when a toothpick inserted comes out with no wet batter clinging to it. 

NOTE: The maple syrup drizzle will cause the muffin tops to stick a bit to the pan. Simply use a butter knife to gently free it before removing muffins from cups. FYI - I use the toothpick method to remove baked muffins from their pans. Stick two toothpicks into the muffin from opposite ends and gently lift.

Pancake Mix 


For fun, I included this “pancake mix” option for making the batter in this recipe. The difference between the “scratch” recipe and this one is mainly texture. The scratch version has a more cake-like crumb while the texture of the pancake mix version is more like a cornmeal muffin, but it’s very good too, and worth a try if you’re curious—and have some pancake mix handy in your pantry! ~ Cleo

Makes 6 regular-size muffins (or 12 mini muffins)


Caramelized bacon bits consisting of… 
  6 slices of bacon, smoked or maple + 6 teaspoons of light brown sugar 
1-½ cup dry buttermilk flavor pancake mix (What brand? See my note below.) 
1 Tablespoon light brown sugar 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 egg, lightly beaten with fork 
2 Tablespoons canola oil 
1/3 cup pure maple syrup (and not “pancake syrup”) 
½ cup whole milk (1% or 2% will work; but do not use skim milk) 

*Note on pancake mix: Do not use Bisquick. Do not use a “just add water” mix. Use a mix that requires the addition of milk, eggs, and oil or melted butter. (I use Aunt Jemima Buttermilk flavor.) No matter what brand you choose, a buttermilk flavored mix will give you the best results. 

Directions: Follow the directions in the previous recipe with one exception. In Step 2, use this batter instead. Whisk together the pancake mix, brown sugar, baking powder, fork-beaten egg, oil, maple syrup, and milk until well blended. Do not over-mix. Fold in the caramelized bacon bits, reserving enough to decorate each muffin top before baking.
The batter will be loose. (Now move to Step 3 in the "from scratch" recipe.)

Yes, this is me - Cleo Coyle
Learn about my books here.

Friend me on Facebook here.
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Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

To get more of my recipes, enter to win
free coffee, or learn about my books, including
my bestselling 
Haunted Bookshop series, visit
my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sweet Coffee-Glazed Mini Scones and a St. Pat's Cat from Cleo Coyle

My husband, Marc, and I made a new friend this past weekend. On St. Patrick's day, an abandoned kitten, about six months old, was obviously lost and hungry and mewing piteously for hours. 

Cleo Coyle, who loves cats
in (and out of) hats,
is author of The Coffeehouse
No one came to his aid, so we took him in, fed him, and got him to our local vet. He's doing fine and will soon be the newest member of our New York stray cat crew. I'll have photos and more news soon, but we're so pleased the little guy found us--and on St. Patrick's Day!

The video below is not mine, but when I saw it uploaded to YouTube, I thought of our new kitten and decided to share it in honor of our St. Pat's cat. Enjoy!

I also did a bit o' baking over the St. Patrick's Day weekend. As usual, I made my "Shamrock" Pistachio Muffins. (I love these babies. The batter tastes like pistachio ice cream and the ricotta adds nice moistness to the muffin, along with additional nutrition. And, of course, they're green. :))

I also baked up some sweet mini soda breads or are they buttermilk scones? You be the judge. I threw in some mini chocolate chips and tarted them up with a quick coffee glaze. Delicious slathered with butter and served with tea or coffee, just be sure to eat them warm. Cold they're not so hot, but warm they're a nice breakfast bread.

Cleo Coyle's
Mini Soda Bread Scones

This is an easy, sweet breakfast bread. The recipe is based on your basic Irish soda bread. With the addition of sugar and chocolate chips, it's really more of a buttermilk scone. They're easy to make and quite tasty when eaten warm with a cup o' tea or (of course...) coffee. ~ Cleo

Makes about 16 mini soda bread scones

2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup buttermilk (light is fine)

First preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Measure out all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Pour in your 1 cup of buttermilk. Stir it up. When the mixture comes together, use a clean hand to finish mixing and kneading it in the bowl until you have a sticky ball. Break off golf ball size pieces and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Pour your coffee or tea and serve warm, slathered with butter. For an extra sweet finish, glaze them up.

Quick Coffee Glaze

Using a fork, whisk 2 tablespoons of hot brewed coffee (or espresso) into 1 cup of sifted confectioners' sugar. With that same fork, drizzle the tops of the mini scones. 

NOTE: These are delicious warm, not so hot cold, so be warned. :)

F o o d i e
P  H O T O S

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of

To get more recipes, enter to win
free coffee, or 
learn about my books, including
my bestselling 
Haunted Bookshop series, visit my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.


Quick reminder to our Mystery Lovers Kitchen audience: Cleo Coyle and Lucy Burdette are appearing at MURDER 203!

If you're attending the MURDER 203 festival of mystery next month in Easton, Connecticut, be sure to stop by and say hi. You can register in advance or walk in the same day. More info about the conference here.
See you there!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fall Comfort Food from Cleo Coyle: Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Apple Snack Cake

Fall means comfort foods! As my readers know, I enjoy making healthier dishes, but I also relish those foods that feed the souland so does my coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi. In Decaffeinated Corpse, Clare warms up a chilly October morning with a fresh batch of Cappuccino Muffins, decadent little sour cream cakes made with cocoa, chocolate chips, and crowned, like her Village Blend cappuccinos, with sweet, frothy tops. Before the mystery's climax at the famous Greenwich Village Halloween parade, Clare stirs up a recipe for Carne Con Café, a hearty beef stew based on a traditional Mayan dish and laced with the earthy flavor of coffee. (The credit for that one goes to Clare's business partner, the globe-trotting coffee buyer Matteo Allegro.) Because both of those recipes are available in the recipe section of Decaffeinated Corpse, I’m sharing one today that’s more economical but just as comforting. It's my version of the classic...

Cleo Coyle, who has no fear
of frying, is author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries
Fried Chicken

Tender and sweet from its buttermilk bath, crispy and crunchy from its dip in hot oil, it's the perfect fall comfort food...

Fried chicken seems a simple enough dish. What’s the big deal, right? You flour chicken pieces and fry them. But if you’ve ever tried to make it, then you know plenty can go wrong (at least it has for me).

This recipe never fails me. My first secret is using chicken wings exclusively. Cutting up the chicken wings and discarding the tips* will yield 24 pieces of fried chicken out of just 12 wings—an economical and tasty meat course for 4 people that’s filling and satisfying. Unlike bigger pieces of chicken—which often end up burning on the outside before cooking properly all the way through—chicken wings fry perfectly in about 8 to 10 minutes. These smaller pieces require less oil, too.

The buttermilk bath is the second key to a successful batch of fried chicken. The acid in the buttermilk is an excellent marinade for the meat, softening and sweetening the chicken before it even touches the oil.

*RECIPE NOTE: The chicken wing tips in this recipe don’t have to be discarded. I boil them in water with celery, carrots, onions and spices and make a delicious chicken stock. Waste not! 

My advice: Buy a quart of buttermilk, reserve 1/2 cup for my Buttermilk Apple Snack Cake recipe and use the rest to make my fried chicken...

 Download a PDF of my Buttermilk Apple Snack Cake recipe by clicking here.

Cleo Coyle’s 
Buttermilk Fried Chicken

To download an illustrated PDF of this recipe that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Serves: This recipe calls for 3 pounds of wings, which is about 12 wings or 24 pieces after wings are cut up.


3 pounds fresh chicken wings

1 quart regular or light buttermilk

      (Reserve 1/2 cup for my Buttermilk-Apple Snack Cake recipe!)

3 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons McCormick “Original Chicken Seasoning” blend
(Or your favorite chicken spice blend)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly-ground pepper, ground very fine
2 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (Optional)
Canola oil for frying

Step 1: Cut the wings into three pieces, discarding all wing tips (or you can boil the tips with carrots, celery, onion and spices to make chicken broth). Place cut up chicken in a plastic or glass container. Pour buttermilk over the chicken wing pieces and marinate in refrigerator for up to 3 hours (no more).

Step 2: Mix the flour, salt, pepper, paprika, chicken spice, and cayenne pepper thoroughly in a paper or plastic bag.

Step 3: Remove chicken pieces from buttermilk and discard excess liquid. Shake off loose buttermilk (do not rinse). Drop wing pieces into the bag 2 or 3 pieces at a time. Shake well until each piece is evenly coated.

Step 4: Heat canola oil in a pan or pot deep enough to allow wing pieces to be submerged in oil (at least 2 inches deep). Shake excess flour off your chicken wing pieces and slowly place, one piece at a time, into hot oil. (Note: You know the oil is hot enough for frying when a dough ball made from a bit of buttermilk and flour sizzles when dropped into the pot). Make sure your pan is not too crowded; otherwise, oil’s temperature will drop too fast, and you’ll end up with greasy chicken.

Step 5: Fry each batch for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally until chicken is golden brown & cooked evenly. (Watch oil temperature: This takes patience and practice. Keeping the oil hot enough is the key to good frying. Adding wings will reduce the oil’s temp., but turning heat too high will burn them.) I place my finished fried chicken pieces on a metal rack over an old cookie sheet pan to catch excess grease. Put rack in a 220° F. oven to dry chicken out and keep warm until all pieces are fried, and. . . 

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of 

To get more of my recipes, sign up to win
free coffee, 
or learn more about the 2 bestselling
series that I write with my
husband, visit my online coffeehouse at...

"A Favorite Book of the Year"
Reviewer's pick 2010 ~ 

For a peek at some of the firehouse-inspired recipes featured in Roast Mortem, click here.

Now a national bestseller
in paperback

To purchase the book, 
click here or here or here.


"...a tasty tale of crime and punishment,
lightened by the Blend's frothy cast of
lovable eccentrics." ~ Publishers Weekly

For a peek at some of the chocolate 
recipes featured in Murder by Mocha,
click here

Now a national bestseller
in hardcover 

To purchase the book, 
click here or here or here

Audiobook produced by AudioGo (BBC Audiobooks America) Available at iTunes and

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Buttermilk Biscuits

Every now and then, Mr. Wendy and I let our pantry get a little bare. We both get busy and stop planning meals. Every morning, we square off, each willing the other to come up with a plan -- any plan! -- for dinner that night. One of us caves, making a lightning run to the Kroger for some sort of pre-packaged convenience food or the ingredients for a one-pot-wonder, and we eek through another day. But the staples slowly dwindle and eventually disappear.

The day after Mr. Wendy's birthday (which we spent out and about), I realized we didn't have anything at all for breakfast. No almond milk for cereal (or cereal, for that matter); no bread or English muffins for toasting; no nothing.

But even in the midst of that rather pitiful food drought, we did have the makings for biscuits. Amen and hallelujah, breakfast was saved!

Biscuits are amazing. They're remarkably simple to prepare (honest), and yet they're so incredibly tasty ... and versatile!

A good buttermilk biscuit has enough flavor (and butter) that it's delicious plain, right out of the oven. But I like to dress them up with a little melted butter and a drizzle of honey or a dollop of raspberry jam. In our (meat-free) household, we use homemade biscuits to make our own version of that fast-food fave, the "sausage biscuit" ... using Morningstar Farms veggie sausage patties as the filling. I also have fond memories of visits to my kin in southwest Virginia: biscuits with creamy sausage gravy and "ham biscuits" (fry up some salt-cured country ham, mix the drippings with black coffee to make red-eye gravy, drizzle the gravy on the inside of a biscuit and top with slices of ham ... not heart-friendly, but dang).

Add a little vanilla and a spoonful of sugar to the mix, and the biscuit becomes the basis for a wonderfully easy strawberry shortcake (just top with macerated berries and a cloud of freshly whipped cream).

The best part? I basically always have the ingredients for biscuits on hand (thanks to the modern miracle of buttermilk mix).

Here's my recipe for flaky biscuits. It takes about 25 minutes, start to finish. (Click on the title for a printer-friendly version.)

Buttermilk Biscuits
Based on a recipe from Sundays at the Moosewood

2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
4 tsp. baking powder
3 Tbs. buttermilk powder*
6 Tbs. butter (very cold, cut into small cubes)
3/4 c. water

* If you don't have buttermilk powder, you can omit it ... and then replace the 3/4 c. water with 3/4 c. buttermilk.

Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat.

Sift flour, salt, soda, baking powder, and buttermilk powder together in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter.

Add water, and fold with spatula until water is incorporated into flour (some flour will still be dry - don't overmix, or your biscuits will be tough).

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead gently until dough comes together. Pat into a disk. Cut in half (with a knife or a dough scraper), and set one half on top of the other. Pat dough into a disk again, and repeat three or four times. This process of creating layers of the dough will make the biscuits flaky and will allow them to pull apart neatly.

Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a biscuit cutter or a drinking glass dipped in flour, cut circles from the dough and place on prepared sheet. Gently gather scraps and press out to create more circles. You should get 10 - 12 biscuits, depending on how big they are.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.

** Note: You can add 1 tsp. of vanilla to the liquid and 2 Tbs. sugar to the dry ingredients in order to create a sweet dessert biscuit, perfect for strawberry shortcake.


Wendy is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook.