Showing posts with label flourless. Show all posts
Showing posts with label flourless. Show all posts

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Mystery Lovers' Kitchen is delighted to welcome Edith Maxwell, whose latest book Farmed and Dangerous has just been released, as our guest today. Edith is a very busy writer these days (four series!), but she still finds time to come up with great recipes.

I’m tickled pink to be back, or maybe I should say I’m tickled chocolate-colored. My latest Local Foods mystery, Farmed and Dangerous, takes place in deep winter in Massachusetts. And boy, did we have a winter this year! Even though it’s now sunny and green outside, when a blizzard rages a person’s thoughts turn to soups, stews, and baking (right, Sheila?). And chocolate.

While this cake isn’t described in the book, it certainly something Cam could have enjoyed baking. It doesn’t really involve locally grown produce, but she’s much less of an avid locavore than her customers are. Not that she minds getting paid for supplying them, though.

I made this cake for Easter brunch this year (it was STILL cold out at Easter) because I had a gluten- and dairy-free guest coming, and this cake fits the bill. It’s not a bit short on flavor, though.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
12 servings (depending…)

1-1/4 cup roasted almonds
3/4 cup plus 4 T sugar
6 oz good quality semisweet chocolate chips
10 cardamom pods
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup cocoa powder
Juice and zest of one large orange
6 eggs, separated
Kosher salt
1 pint fresh raspberries, divided in half

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour some Cointreau in a glass and sip.

Rub oil inside nine-inch spring form pan and set on a baking sheet.

Use a hammer or a mortar and pestle to pound the pods until the husks open. Remove and discard the husks. In a food processor, combine cardamom seeds, almonds, and 1/4 cup sugar. Process until well chopped.

Add chocolate and process until well ground. Move mixture to a bowl. Whisk in cinnamon, cocoa powder, orange juice, and zest until smooth.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until significantly thickened. 

Stir in the other mixture.

Whisk the egg whites and a pinch of salt with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add 2 T of sugar and continue whisking until stiff peaks form.

Working in three batches, fold whites into yolk mixture.

Pour batter into spring form pan, then place pan on baking sheet in the middle of the oven. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Cool to room temperature, then run a knife around the perimeter of the pan and release the sides.

Lightly mash half the raspberries in a small saucepan, add 2 T sugar, and gently heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup Cointreau (or more, depending…).
Use a chopstick to gently poke holes into the top of the cake.

Array rest of fresh raspberries hole down on the cake, then spoon cooked mixture over top.


Edith will be delighted to offer a copy of Farmed and Dangerous to someone who comments here (please include your email so she can reach you). The selection will be made by a random drawing. Read about the book below!

Organic farmer Cam Flaherty is struggling to provide the promised amount of food to her customers in her first winter in Westbury, Massachusetts, and her new greenhouse might just collapse from the weight of the snow. Supplying fresh ingredients for a dinner at the local assisted living facility seems like the least of her worries—until a cantankerous resident with a lot of enemies dies after eating the meal.

But while the motives in this case may be plentiful, the trail of poisoned produce leads straight back to Cam. Not even her budding romance with police detective Pete Pappas will keep him from investigating her.

As the suspects gather, a blizzard buries the scene of the crime under a blanket of snow, leaving Cam stranded in the dark with a killer who gives new meaning to the phrase “dead of winter.”

Agatha-nominated and Amazon-bestselling author Edith Maxwell writes four murder mystery series, most with recipes, as well as award-winning short stories.

Farmed and Dangerous is the latest in Maxwell's Local Foods Mysteries series (Kensington Publishing). The latest book in the Lauren Rousseau mysteries, under the pseudonym Tace Baker (Barking Rain Press), is Bluffing is Murder. Maxwell’s Country Store Mysteries, written as Maddie Day (also from Kensington), will debut with Flipped for Murder in November, 2015. Her Quaker Midwife Mysteries series features Quaker midwife Rose Carroll solving mysteries in 1888 Amesbury with John Greenleaf Whittier’s help, and will debut in March, 2016 with Delivering the Truth.

A fourth-generation Californian, Maxwell lives in an antique house north of Boston with her beau and three cats. She blogs every weekday with the other Wicked Cozy Authors (, and you can find her at, @edithmaxwell, on Pinterest and Instagram, and at

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

4-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies (No Gluten, No Dairy, No Mixer, No Kidding!) via Cleo Coyle

Four simple ingredients, one fork, and one bowl yield this insanely easy peanut butter cookie that is also gluten-free and dairy-free. 

Does that sound too good to be true?

That's what I thought. This basic recipe is at least 20 years old. A friend of mine recalls her mom making them, which leads me to believe the recipe was either something that came from a peanut butter company or a popular magazine. Or maybe it was just something moms and home cooks invented that caught on.

You'll find this same recipe (or close variations) all over the Internet now, including the Food Network's site, Women's Day online and here at, which lists the cookies as kosher (which also makes it a nice Passover dessert recipe). 

Gluten-Free Expert? Not me, but we have one...

If you've come here looking for more gluten-free recipes, we have an expert with us in my fellow crime-writing cook Daryl Wood Gerber, who also writes as Avery Aames. Click here for just one of Avery's many gluten-free recipes you'll find here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. She posts here every Wednesday and is very generous with her expertise.

As for peanut butter recipes with flour, this blog has a few, and another fellow author Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib) recently posted one with the kick of hot sauce. To see it, click here.

Now let's get baking! 
~ Cleo

Cleo Coyle’s (way of making the classic…) 
Flourless, Dairy-Free
Peanut Butter Cookies

Cleo Coyle is author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries.
To learn more click here.
My readers may recall my mentioning this recipe in my recent culinary mystery Billionaire Blend

Near the end of the book, my amateur sleuth, coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi, is hired to cater a party for a successful young company that's part of New York's "Silicone Alley," the term now used to describe the city's new center for high-tech companies. 

Billionaire Blend is a
culinary mystery.
To see the book's
 recipe guide, click here.

Clare is given the difficult task of pleasing a mix of junk food lovers and young foodies with dietary restrictions (e.g. gluten-free and dairy-free eaters).

If you ever find yourself in the same position, this insanely easy cookie could be the one to make everyone happy. No dairy, no gluten, and yet it's a classic that even junk food junkies will enjoy. 

Better yet, it's one you can make at midnight in your bathrobe and flip-flops with one fork, one bowl, and a few simple ingredients...

~ Cleo

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

Makes about 2 dozen cookies


1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup peanut butter** (
What brand you use
change your results, see my note below)

1 cup white, granulated sugar
   (+ a little extra for rolling)

**IMPORTANT NOTE: For this recipe, I used classic, creamy Jif, the number 1 bestselling brand in America (which now has zero trans fat). It produced a fantastic peanut butter cookie. Great texture and flavor. I can't promise the same results with homemade PB or natural spreads (see my notes on a brand vs. brand bake off below). Give your favorite peanut butter brand a try and see what you think. If the results are not stellar, try another brand. 


Step 1 - Make Batter: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Break the egg into a mixing bowl and whisk with a fork. Add vanilla extract and whisk again. Add peanut butter and sugar and beat ingredients again with your same trusty fork until smooth.

Step 2 - Form balls and coat with sugar: Dough will be very sticky. Dip clean fingers into a shallow bowl of sugar. (Sugar-coated fingers will prevent sticking.) Tear off small pieces of dough and drop them into the sugar bowl. Lightly roll them into balls that are a little smaller in size than a walnut. (Cookie balls do not have to be perfectly round.) Place them on your lined baking sheet, allowing plenty of room for spreading. 

Step 3 - Flatten the dough balls (as shown) with tines of a fork that you dip continually in the sugar bowl to prevent sticking. Make a classic cross-cross pattern as shown in my photos.

Step 4 - Bake the cookies for 10 to 14 minutes until they are golden around the edges. Do not over-bake. If the bottoms become scorched the cookies are inedible! 

TIP: To be sure the cookies are done (without burning), here’s what I do. Using a spatula, I gently remove one test cookie from the oven. I flip it gently on a paper towel. The bottom of the cookie should be golden brown but not dark brown. See my photo below.

Step 5 - Rest Warm cookies are delicate and will crumble easily. So allow the cookies to rest in the pan for about 10 minutes. They will firm up, and you’ll be able to handle them just fine.


As I mentioned above, I was skeptical of this recipe working and happily surprised when it did. But it's clear that different brands will give different results. The Jif (America's most popular brand) baked up cookies that tasted like a classic PB cookie, crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. Delicious flavor. The cookies made with Skippy Natural were off in flavor and texture. Those cookies were mealy. (My guess is the palm oil was the problem in the Skippy. Did you know many "natural" PB spreads often have less nuts than classic peanut butter? More on that below...)

One of our followers, Libby D., once suggested that I try Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter (it’s simply roasted peanuts and salt). So I’ll be testing that one next.

To read an interesting brand vs. brand
of Natural Peanut Butters 

at the Huffington Post, click here.

Keep in mind, Americans can’t always find specialized brands in their stores, and while I have not used Jif in years, I was happy to discover (for this recipe post), it now has zero trans fat. Many companies like Jif’s are getting rid of their "partially hydrogenated oil," which makes me happy, happy. 

What I learned from this post...

"Partially hydrogenated" oil is the bad guy. It may seem counterintuitive, but if you see "fully or completely hydrogenated oil" on an ingredient list, don’t panic. As the Mayo Clinic explains here, "partially" is the bad guy. To quote from the Mayo Clinic's post...

It sounds counterintuitive, but "fully" or "completely" hydrogenated oil doesn't contain trans fat....

To make it easy on yourself, just look for the amount of trans fat on the food label. Jif has zero, and that's what most concerns health officials.

For this recipe...

If you use a homemade or "natural" peanut butter "spread" for this recipe, your results may yield a cookie that’s perfectly fine for you. Let me know how it goes in the comments. If you find the texture mealy and the flavor subpar (as I did with the Skippy Natural), try another brand. I’ll continue to test brands (Smucker's Natural is next) and report back with an update. Until then, may you...

Click here to
get the free PDF
of this recipe, and...

Bake with joy!
~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

Now a National
Bestseller in Hardcover

A Coffeehouse Mystery 

*Starred Review* -Kirkus

"Top Pick"  -RT Book Reviews

"...a highly satisfying mystery."
-Publishers Weekly

See the Recipe Guide
by clicking here.

* * * 

Coffeehouse Mystery
Free Title Checklist
(with mini plot summaries)

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

* * * 

Haunted Bookshop
Free Title Checklist, 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 
The Haunted
Bookshop Mysteries

To learn more, click here.