Showing posts with label desserts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label desserts. Show all posts

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Mini Strawberry Pavlovas with Lemon Cream, Strawberries and Grand Marnier

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Here in Ontario, the local strawberries are coming in!  We love that fresh, juicy and sweet taste. This is also the weekend when we’re trying to catch up on gardening and having a barbecue and family get together so I was looking for a dessert that would be light, make-ahead (mostly) and delicious. I settled on a Pavlova, that melt in the mouth combo of meringue, cream and berries.  But then I remembered past Pavlovas looking great until you tried to cut them and they exploded.  Hmm.  That’s when the decision to make the mini-Pavlovas was born.  I decided to add lemon curd to the mix to give it some zing. You can make your own lemon curd for this, but we have been on the run and living by the 20/80 rule: that is, you can often get 80 % of the benefit out of 20 % of the effort. So a jar of good-quality lemon curd it was. But go ahead and make your lemon curd from scratch if that suits you. We were not disappointed in our choice.

Because it’s a red and white dessert, it will be great for Canada Day too! 

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For Meringue:

4 extra-large egg whites with no traces of yolk, at room temperature
1 cup plus one tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

For filling
1 cup whipping cream
¾ cup good quality lemon curd (or more if lemon is your thing)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For topping

1 1/2 cups fresh sliced strawberries (or berries of your choice. Perhaps strawberries and blueberries for the 4th of July!) We used mini-strawberries and they were very tasty.

2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier or 1 tablespoon granulated sugar


 Preheat oven to 225 F.


Beat the four egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form.  Add vanilla.  Slowly add sugar tablespoon by tablespoon, beating well after every addition, until stiff peaks have formed.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. . Scoop out meringue and shape into ‘bowls’.  

Bake in pre-heated oven at 225 degrees for about 50 minutes. Turn off oven and let the meringues dry for at least an hour or even overnight.  

Trim and slice strawberries. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier if you like a bit of boozy flavor. You could use Cointreau too or Triple Sec. If not, a sprinkle of granulated sugar. Let the strawberries sit until ready to serve.

Just before you are ready to serve:  whip one cup of whipping cream and 1/2 tsp vanilla to stiff peaks. 

Add ¾ cup of lemon curd. You could add more.  Fold the lemon curd through, leaving streaks.

 It doesn’t need to be thoroughly blended.  We didn’t add any extra sugar to this, but you must suit yourself.
The only tricky part of this entire exercise is to get the meringue bowls off the baking sheet. This time I used tinfoil instead of parchment paper and it was not as easy. Lesson learned and too late to take new photos!
Spoon the lemon cream mixture into the meringues.  Add the strawberries and listen to the satisfied sighs.

The Pavlovas are very refreshing and tasty.  I don’t know why it took us so long to turn them into minis.

Pretty enough to show twice, we think!

Have fun and enjoy your dessert. 

In case you don't know, Victoria Abbott is a collaboration between  me, Mary Jane Maffini, and my daughter Victoria. Together we write the book collector mysteries.   We think that reading them is like taking a lovely trip to a mysterious place where books are everything and, yes, murder happens and great meals are served and some relatives are not to be trusted. Of course, justice prevails in the end and books are loved.


We like to think our book collector mysteries are fun, easy to read and surprising too. All five titles are available in print, e-book and audio format. Don't miss out.  You can get to meet Peachy (posing below) aka Walter the Pug.  Watch out for the Siamese cats - one is good and one will get you!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Classic Chocolate Torte with Kahlua #recipe #giveaway #bookclub @abbottmysteries

By Victoria Abbott from Mary Jane Maffini's kitchen.

We hope you are enjoying our third book club week theme at Mystery Lovers Kitchen.   I love book club week because I love book clubs. In my experience as an author book clubs are often associated with food (and wine) as well as love of books.

My own book club has a rule: there must be chocolate. Of course, we usually have a book as well.  Ahem.  We are usually in a good mood:  here we are on a previous get together, looking forward to something chocolately.

Produce the chocolate or we'll stop smiling!

Book Club will meet here at my house on Tuesday. Therefore it has been necessary to do a dry run on a chocolate dessert to serve.  I chose Classic Chocolate Tart and decided to update it with a good dose of Kahlua, because I could.

Of course, I’ll have to try some other old favorites too:  maybe some that have already appeared on Mystery Lovers Kitchen!   Here are links to two recipes that I did from previous book club weeks and one that I should have (mini-souffles). You can check them out after!

Finally, here's how to make Classic Chocolate Tart with Kahlua


Pie crust:

¾ cup unbleached white flour, plus extra for board and rolling pin
2 tsp. good quality cocoa powder, plus extra for board and rolling pin
4 tsp. icing sugar
Pinch of salt
¼ cup chilled butter
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons ice water (or more if necessary)
Dried beans (to hold crust down while baking)

Ganache filling:

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons Kahlua
White and dark chocolate curls or shreds to decorate
¾ cup whipping cream
4 tablespoons Kahlua
Directions for crust:
Grease a 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom.
Cut a piece of parchment paper just slightly larger than bottom.
Sift flour, sugar, cocoa and salt into food processor.  Add chilled butter and pulse until it looks like bread crumbs. 

 Distribute egg yolk around mixture and add ice water. Pulse until it just holds together. Add a tiny bit more water if necessary.

Roll out on counter or board dusted with extra flour and cocoa until larger than pan. Lift into pan very carefully.  We used our pancake spatula and a regular spatula after a couple of failed attempts. Just sayin’.

Press into pan making sure it fits into the fluting. Trim the edges.  
Put parchment paper in and add the beans.

Chill for a half-hour.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Bake for fifteen minutes. Lift out with care as bottom can dislodge (we know this the hard way).
Remove parchment paper and beans.  
Bake for five more minutes.
When the crust has cooled, make the ganache:
Chop the semi-sweet chocolate and put in a heat-proof bowl with the room temperature butter.

Bring the whipping cream just to a boil.

Pour cream over chocolate and butter and stir until melted.
Add Kahlua and stir to blend.
Pour into pie crust and chill for three hours.

Decorate with slivers of white and dark chocolate or chocolate curls.

Whip ¾ cup cream with the 4 tablespoons Kahlua.
To serve: remove from pie plate with great care and transfer to a serving plate if you want to show it off. 

  Serve plain or with dollops of whipped cream. You can also serve slices from the pie plate.

This tart is very rich and serves six large pieces or ten slimmer ones.  

By now you know that the shadowy body known as Victoria Abbott is actually us: Victoria and Mary Jane Maffini.   

We're really excited about the coming release of The Hammett Hex, our fifth book collector mystery. 

 We are having so much fun with the fedoras that we thought you might want a chance to win one.  How about it?  Just leave a comment here and YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS.  Then be prepared to open an email from Mary Jane Maffini if you're the winner.  Your spam filter may think that it's from Marijuana Muffins, but YOU have to find a way to check for it.   Good luck everyone! This comes with different colored bands!  

If you haven't already pre-ordered The Hammett Hex,  here's you chance:

 CLICK HERE or ask your favorite booksellter



Thursday, November 19, 2015

Visit Our #Thanksgiving Recipes Page!

Do you need some ideas for your Thanksgiving feast? 
Let the crime-writing cooks of Mystery Lovers' Kitchen help!

Our Thanksgiving Recipe Page is now LIVE
and includes plenty of recipes for you,
including tips on choosing and cooking
the perfect Thanksgiving bird.



Have a
Happy Thanksgiving,

The Cooks of 
Mystery Lovers' Kitchen

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Kahlua Brownies With White and Dark Chocolate #recipe #giveaway #bookclub @AbbottMysteries

Welcome to Book Club Week! This is possibly the best week in the year, in my humble opinion. We are so glad you have invited us and our books to your book club.  Naturally, we brought a contribution for the table as well as our book to talk about.

My own book club has two rules: 

Rule # 1: There must be chocolate
Rule # 2: There must be wine.

We’re thinking that these black and white chocolate Kahlua brownies will cover both. But if not, then allow us to assure you, they are very good with white wine, red wine and rosé.  We are very happy to contribute this recipe. 

On our recent Facebook ‘survey’ about favorite desserts, brownies came out top of the list. That sent me scampering for a great recipe.  I found this one in my printed recipe files and, of course, tweaked it. Alas it is one of those where the original source is not visible, but here’s my huge vote of thanks to whoever originated it. 

We liked it so much that we ‘practiced’ making it four times. Ahem. We've done it with a sprinkle of sea salt and with toasted slivered almonds and twice just choco.  We love all the versions.

It was a big hit at my book club and at several social events. It’s so easy (one bowl, no mixers needed, although I still use the stand mixer on stir) and it’s a keeper.

As for the book, we’re very excited to bring THE MARSH MADNESS, the fourth book collector mystery to your meeting. But more about that after we make the brownies.

You will need:
2 cups granulated white sugar
1 14 cups all purpose pre-sifted flour
23 cups good quality cocoa (we used Penzey’s)
12 teaspoon baking soda
12 teaspoon salt
12 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup butter, melted and cooled (we melted it in the microwave and stuck the bowl in the fridge after – very quick)
4 extra large eggs, at room temperature
14 cup Kahlua
2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
½ cup toasted slivered almond
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
¼ cup white chocoate chips
Sprinkle of pink sea salt (optional)
Tin foil

All you do is:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease and flour a 13x9x2 baking dish and set aside (can use a mix of cocoa and flour to prevent white edges around finished brownies) In a big bowl combine  (by hand or stir with mixer)  sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

Add melted butter.

Add eggs, vanilla, and Kahlua, and stir with a wooden spoon just until blended (Do not over mix).

Put batter in prepared baking dish, evening out the batter with a spatula.

Bake for 40- 45 minutes or until the edges of brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the dish.

Remove from the oven and put dish on wire rack to cool.

Immediately sprinkle dark chocolate chips over top of hot brownies.

Cover baking dish with tin foil to hold in heat.
After about 5 minutes, spread melted chips over the brownies with a spatula.
Immediately randomly sprinkle white chocolate over the frosting, and cover with foil for a couple of minutes.
When white chocolate is melted, gently swirl chips into the dark chocolate to create a marble pattern.

Add toasted almonds here and there.  Or sprinkle a bit of sea salt. We did it with and without almonds and sea salt. We like all the versions.  

This is the plain choco version.
Let cool thoroughly before cutting.

They are quite rich, so we found cutting into small squares was best. But then, you will know your book club or audience best. 

This makes a generous 9 x 13 pan.  We usually freeze some for brownie emergencies, of which there are many.

That shadowy figure known as Victoria Abbott is actually artist and photographer, Victoria Maffini and her mother, Mary Jane, author of three other mystery series.

And now to the book:  The Marsh Madness is the fourth outing for our young sleuth, Jordan Kelly Bingham.  It hit the shelves on September 1st and we'd like you to know it contains many delicious meals and there are no dogs on the table once you're past the cover.


Jordan is the research assistant and book scout to Vera Van Alst, wealthy curmudgeon and book collector.  Jordan’s also the first person in her large family to go straight.  The Marsh Madness brings Vera and Jordan and Uncle Kev (the less said about him the better!) to Summerlea, the palatial summer home of the wealthy Kauffman family for a special luncheon. The sole heir, Chadwick Kauffman will transfer a complete set of fine first edition of Ngaio Marsh’s mysteries. Vera will leave behind a satchel of cash, in turn.  Jordan has a raspberry dress for the occasion.  She has had her troubles what with murder and mayhem and it hasn’t always been easy staying on the right side of the law. She deserves this wonderful outing. After all, what could possibly go wrong? 
We loved writing this book!  We were given twenty-nine Ngaio Marsh books (thank you, Nancy Reid!) in pristine condition.  The re-reading was almost as much fun as the writing, except of course, we like to be the detectives.  

We hope you like it and you find time to nibble a brownie or two while you’re enjoying the ride. 

GIVEAWAY!  Because you've been such a great book club, we're offering one of our limited edition  book collector totebags.  Just leave a comment here. 

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