Showing posts with label maple. Show all posts
Showing posts with label maple. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Welcome Author Victoria Hamilton with Fresh-Baked Scones and a Cozy Tote Giveaway!
No Mallets Intended
A Vintage Kitchen Mystery

It's my pleasure to welcome author Victoria Hamilton back to our Kitchen! 

Today Victoria is sharing a lovely recipe for fresh-baked scones; news about her new Vintage Kitchen Mystery, No Mallets Intended; and a fun comment-to-win giveaway. 

Details of the giveaway are below. But first, please welcome Victoria Hamilton... 

~ Cleo

I love tea and scones, so I suppose it is no mystery that when Jaymie, my protagonist from the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, was casting about for something easy to give away or sell to folks at the Dickens Days festivities in Queensville Michigan, she decided upon scones; in No Mallets Intended they are lemon cranberry mini scones. 

This recipe is close to one I have used before, but I did a few things differently this time. And I love scones far too much to make them mini, so these are full size. I also made a lemon drizzle for the scones, AND toasted candied pecans to chop and sprinkle over the drizzle. It’s over-the-top good, perfect for an afternoon tea, or brunch, or just… well anytime! I think they are kind of festive.

Make the toasted pecans first. You won’t regret it, and your main problem will be keeping from eating them all before the scones are done!

Cranberry Lemon Scones 
with Lemon Glaze & 
Toasted Maple Pecans 

From the kitchen of: Victoria Hamilton 

Toasted Maple Pecans


1 Cup Pecans 

1 Tblsp. Butter

1 Tblsp. Maple Syrup

1 Tblsp. Brown Sugar (I used Golden)

1/4 tsp salt


1 – Heat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.

2 – Melt the butter and brown sugar in a bowl in the microwave or a small pot on the stove.

3 – Add the maple syrup and salt, and stir to mix.

4 – Add pecans and stir until they are coated.

5 – Pour the pecans on a parchment lined tray and place in oven.

6 – Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, stirring halfway through the baking time. Keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn! I did them in a toaster oven, and they turned out perfect!

7 – Remove from oven and let them cool on the tray. I stirred them a bit when they first came out of the oven and then spread them out to make sure they didn’t stick to each other.

These are awesome even as a snack or an ice cream topping, but these are to chop and sprinkle over the scones.

Lemony Cranberry Scones 
with Lemon Glaze



1-3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

3 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

5 tblsp. cold butter, chopped

2/3 cup buttermilk (Because I didn’t have any, I used the buttermilk cheat, which is milk with vinegar/lemon juice, and the scones turned out just great!)

1-1/2 tblsp. lemon juice

1/4 to 1/2 tsp. lemon extract – I like the extra boost of the lemon extract.

3/4 cup dried cranberries (I used Ocean Spray Craisins, which are sweetened)


1 tblsp. lemon juice

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. lemon extract

1-1/2 tblsp. milk

3/4 cup powdered aka icing sugar


1 – Preheat oven to 400 Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment, or use a silicone baking sheet. Or use a no stick baking sheet, as I did!

2 – In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda.

3 – Chop in the cold butter with a fork or pastry cutter until mixture is crumbly, or do as I did and rub it into the flour with your fingers until it resembles oatmeal. If you rub the butter in, be sure to leave the texture of the dry ingredients mealy.

4 – Add in the buttermilk, lemon juice, lemon extract and dried cranberries. Mix until just incorporated.

5 – Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a circle about one knuckle deep. Yes, one knuckle. That’s how I measured, using the distance from my thumb knuckle to the end of my thumb, OR if you’re a real science measuring nut, that’s about ¾ of an inch thick.

6 – Slice into eighths. I used a cleaver to make the cuts, (I use the cleaver for a lot of things, including cutting pizza) but you can use a knife or pizza cutter, whatever is clean.

7 – Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

8 - Make the glaze while the scones cool simply by mixing the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl.

9 – Drizzle over the cooled scones, or glaze them, whichever you prefer. Then sprinkle with some of the chopped Toasted Maple Pecans.

These scones are really good, lemony and light, but not too sweet. They are best the same day they are made. Now, make a cup of tea and curl up with a cozy mystery and a scone!


About No Mallets Intended 

Jaymie Leighton is excited and a little nervous about her current big venture, completely redoing the kitchen at Dumpe House—now the Queensville Historic Manor—in time for the December opening. But the house is mired in controversy, a challenge to the heritage society’s right to own it, and questions about the author hired to write a pamphlet detailing the Dumpe family history.

Jaymie just keeps her focus on the exact color right for the kitchen, and assembling all the accouterments, including a Hoosier cabinet! She’s also got much to think about in her personal life with Daniel acting a little odd, and her friend Heidi dragging her in to the trouble between her and her fiancé, Jaymie’s former boyfriend Joel.

But a late night whack on the head with one of the antique mallets Jaymie has been cataloging for the society and a dreadful murder right on the house’s doorstep draws her once again into murder and mayhem. Jaymie faces her most cunning and dangerous opponent yet, but with Valetta by her side and the police chief’s approval, she must figure out whodunit before they do it again!


Victoria Hamilton is the author of three nationally 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!

Follow Victoria!

Visit her Website

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Follow her on Twitter: @MysteryVictoria


Leave a Comment on this post
by Thursday, Nov. 6 at 12 Midnight,
and you will be entered to win a copy of
No Mallets Intended, Victoria's new
Vintage Kitchen Mystery, and this
fun "Cozy Up to a Good Mystery"
tote bag!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Maple Cheese Scones


From Avery aka Daryl:

In anticipation of next week’s debut of the fifth Cheese Shop Mystery: DAYS OFWINE AND ROQUEFORT, I’ve been sampling more cheese. It’s a given, right? When I’m wearing my “Avery” hat, I eat cheese, I cook with cheese, I sample cheese. 
In fact, recently I had the distinct pleasure of meeting my “cheese maven” Marcella Wright for the first time. Marcella and I met online…well, actually her cat and my fictional cat met online, and then  I learned she was a big shot in the world of cheese!

Marcella, who lives in Washington, came to Studio City, California to open a Murray’s cheese shop section, this time in the Ralph’s grocery store. Delicious cheese. We had a wonderful time.
Marcella & me at Murray's in Ralph's Supermarket

But back to this week’s post and why. In anticipation of the debut of another Cheese Shop Mystery, I was browsing cookbooks and magazines looking for cheese-y breakfast items. I found the most delightful scone recipe made with cheddar and maple syrup. I found the recipe in Culture Cheese magazine, but it was made with regular flour. I needed to make it gluten-free, so I tweaked the recipe.

 I fell in love. My husband adored them, too!!

By the way…three of my blogmates, Meg/Peg, Sheila, Lucy and I are having a giveaway on Facebook with books and more in anticipation of all of our releases next week. The contest runs through January 31st. Click the photo below to check it out.

Also, I’m having a giveaway today!!  See details at the end of the recipe!

(tweaked from recipe from Culture Cheese Magazine)


(serves 6-8)

2 1/4  cups gluten-free four
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon whey powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, diced
1 cup coarsely grated cheddar
1/2 cup chopped pecans, if desired
3/4  cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon maple extract


Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly coat with oil.

In a large bowl, combine gluten-free flour, xanthan gum, whey powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. With a blender or large fork, cut in butter until mixture is coarse and crumbly.

Stir cheddar  (and pecans, if desired) into GF flour mixture. Combine buttermilk and maple extract. Gradually add that to dry ingredients while tossing mixture with a fork. It will form a soft dough. (Note: you want to moisten the dry ingredients but NOT stir too vigorously, which stiffens the dough.)

Gather dough together. Press gently to combine. Transfer to a lightly gluten-free floured surface and pat out to 1-inch-thick round.

Cut with a serrated knife into 6-8 wedges. Arrange wedges on the baking sheet.

Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch.

In the recipe in the magazine, it says “Dough can also be patted out and cut into 2-inch square scones, which will bake in 12-15 minutes.”

* By the way, if you want to make these using regular flour, just switch out the  GF flour with regular flour and omit the xanthan gum.

** Whey powder seems to add a ton of moisture to gluten-free baked items. I add a tablespoon now every time I bake something. It substitutes for 1 tablespoon of the GF flour.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Giveaway: Leave a comment with your email in order to enter the giveaway! REMEMBER TO INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL so I might notify you. AND if you tweet or share on Facebook, tell me in your  comment and you'll be entered TWICE.

I'm giving away your choice of one of the first four Cheese Shop mysteries or FINAL SENTENCE, the first in the Cookbook Nook mysteries. Plus some fun swag!

* * * * * * * * *
ALSO, remember to sign up for my mailing list/newsletter
There's going to be a launch giveaway on February 3rd!


Friend Daryl on Facebook
Friend Avery on Facebook
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Follow Avery on Twitter
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Check out our website.

Next up: 
Days of Wine and Roquefort 
Feb 2014preorder here

                    Inherit the Word 
                     March 2014preorder here

If you haven't done so, sign up for the mailing list 
so you can learn about upcoming events, releases, and contests! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Maple Leaf Rag Cookies Recipe from Final Sentence

Often when I write, I listen to music. Usually classical or orchestral music is my “muse.” With music, I get a feel for what I’m writing. I feel inner rhythms. My emotions seem easier to access. My mind clears.

When I was writing Final Sentence, Jenna, the protagonist in the book, wanted to listen to a variety of music. I know, weird, but writers (not just me) let our characters have free rein.

In addition to “foodie” themed songs (which Jenna likes to play in the shop) and Judy Garland hits (which were Jenna’s mother’s favorites), Jenna liked to listen to ragtime music. Scott Joplin in particular.

When Maple Leaf Rag was playing, I got the idea for a cookie. Crazy, right? Final Sentence features cookie recipes, from easy—like last Wednesday's post for Mexican Wedding Cookie—to difficult like Gluten-free Orange Biscotti (oh, so delicious).

But back to today’s recipe. I love all things maple – syrup, more syrup, and plenty of syrup. I like maple candy. I like maple-flavored bacon. When I was listening (along with Jenna) to Joplin’s popular song (which is the theme from “The Sting” and was the model for many subsequent ragtime compositions), I decided to create a cookie with a maple syrup icing. This is a chewy cookie. If you don’t like raisins, leave them out, but make sure you use the full amount of chocolate chips, keeping in mind that it’s the icing that makes the cookie special.  In the book, Jenna’s friend Katie, the chef at The Cookbook Nook’s café, creates this cookie:

Ala Katie
(makes 3-4 dozen)

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs 
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup sour cream 

1/4 cup water
3 cups flour (*if using gluten-free flour, add ½ teaspoon xanthan gum)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips or raisins (or mixture)
For Glaze:

1/2 cup butter
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons maple syrup
2 - 4 tablespoons milk (I used 2)


Heat oven to 375 Degrees.

Cream together the butter, sugar, and eggs.

Add in the maple syrup, sour cream, and water, and blend well.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, soda, and salt; then gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring until well combined.

Gently sir in the chocolate chips and/or raisins.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet, leaving about 2" between cookies. Press with fingers or back of spoon to flatten.  [If you don't flatten them, they won't flatten!!]

Bake 8-10, until light brown.

Remove to a cooling rack (or paper towels) and allow cookies to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make glaze. HEAT the butter until it begins to change color (light caramel); then remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Using a whisk, stir in confectioners' sugar and maple syrup. Gradually add the milk until the glaze is the desired consistency.

Spread glaze over cooled cookies.

Note: If you want to do something fun and wind up with a delicious toffee candy, make the icing, all by itself. Same ingredients. Cook on medium heat to a full boil. Stir, constantly, for eight to ten minutes. It will bubble and froth. Pour the candy onto a sheet of wax paper (laid on top of a cookie tray). Let stand until completely cool. Break into pieces. 

Trivia for 100The Maple Leaf Rag was composed in 1899. Joplin received a steady—though “unspectacular” according to Wikipedia—income from the piece for the rest of his life. He agreed to 1% royalty on all sales of the music, with a minimum sale of 25 cents per sale.

Trivia for 200: This was one of the main pieces my son wanted to learn on the piano, probably because he heard me playing it way back when. I’m sure he can still play it. I’m a little rusty.

* * * * * * *

The first book in A Cookbook Nook Mystery series is out!!

You can order the book HERE.

It's set in the fictional coastal town of Crystal Cove, California and features Jenna Hart, a former advertising exec who returns home to help her aunt open a culinary bookshop and café.

The 4th in A Cheese Shop Mystery series is out, too! 
You can order the book HERE.

Next one up: DAYS OF WINE AND ROQUEFORT. You can order the book HEREuntil I have it up on my website. This is the first I've known about cover art for the book!  :) 

You can learn more about Daryl by clicking this LINK. "Like" my page on Facebook and "follow" me on TwitterAnd if you haven't done so, sign up for the mailing list so you can learn about upcoming events, releases, and contests! You can also follow and "like" Avery Aames the same way:  Facebook and Twitter

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What Do Maple Syrup Grades Mean? Cleo Coyle Gives You a Clue and a Recipe!

This past weekend Vermont had its annual Maple Festival, a celebration that's been held for nearly five decades to mark the end of the state's sugaring season. The season, which generally runs from early March through late April, is the time when "sugar makers" collect sap from their maple trees and boil it down into sweet sticky syrup, not to mention maple sugar, maple candy, and maple cream (okay, so I mentioned them). 

Click here for a list of Vermont maple syrup producers, many of whom have online shops. 

Cleo Coyle, maple maniac,
is author of The
Coffeehouse Mysteries
All this maple syrup talk has put me in the mood to get busy eating it. Lately, I've been splashing it into oatmeal, stirring it into yogurt, and baking up maple sugar cookies, too (recipe below), which leads me to a note on ingredients. 

Maple vs. "Pancake" Syrup

As most of you know, pure maple syrup has one ingredient: maple syrup. That stuff they label "pancake syrup" is actually corn syrup flavored with maple extract.
I once tried baking with "pancake syrup"--I mean, hey, it is less expensive than pure maple syrup, and I thought, oh, what the heck. My "pancake syrup" muffins turned out dry and mealy. I threw them away. Pure maple syrup costs more, but you get a superior taste and texture from the real thing, even better nutrition.

Maple Syrup is Healthier
than Corn Syrup or Honey

That's right, maple syrup has less calories than honey or corn syrup, and far more value in nutrition. According to the FDA: 1/4 cup of maple syrup (216 calories) will give you 95% of the Recommended Daily Value of Manganese; 37% of Riboflavin, 6% Zinc, 7% Magnesium, 5% Calcium, and 5% Potassium.  

In comparison, 1/4 of corn syrup (220 calories) carries almost no nutrition; and while honey (261 calories) and brown sugar (216 calories) bring more to the table than white sugar or corn syrup, in terms of nutrition, they don't come close to the benefits of maple syrup. 
Understanding Maple Syrup's 
Labels and Grading...

You may have noticed maple syrups include grades on their labels, but maple Grades A and B are not about quality, they're about color, density, and taste

I'll put it another way: some people prefer dark beer, others light. One isn't better than the other, just different. The same will likely be true for your own taste in maple syrup. One isn't "better" than the other, they're simply different. The descriptions below should help give you a clue, which ones are for you...

Photograph courtesy Wikicommons 

All US states must use the USDA color standards to grade (or classify) their maple syrups, but (here's the tricky party) each state is allowed to use its own words to describe these colors. 

Because Canada supplies 80% of the world's maple syrup, I'm going to decode their wording along with the USDA's. 

After Canada, the state of Vermont is the leading maple syrup producer, so I'll also include their wording. First up...

Grade A - Light Amber -
Description: This is the first syrup of the season that is harvested. It is clear and light in color with a very mild maple flavor. Good on ice cream and other foods that allow a subtle maple flavor to come through
Vermont calls this grade "Fancy" and Canada calls it "Extra Light."

Grade A - Medium Amber
Description: This is the grade you'll most often find on store shelves. It has characteristic maple flavor and is a little darker in color than "light" or "fancy" and has a slightly heavier maple taste. It's good for pancakes, waffles, and is generally popular for the table. 
Vermont calls this grade "Medium Amber" ~ Canada calls it "No. 1 Light Grade A."

Grade A - Dark Amber (my favorite)
Description: This grade is produced toward the end of the maple syrup season as the weather begins to warm up. It's a darker shade than "Medium Amber" and imparts a stronger maple flavor. I find this to be a satisfying syrup for table use--pancakes, waffles, and also very good on yogurt and oatmeal. I like it's versatility because it's robust enough for baking, too. For those of you who'd like a more hearty and classic maple flavor, this is it. 
Vermont calls this grade "Dark Amber" ~ Canada calls it "No. 1 Medium Grade A").

Grade B -
Description: This syrup is much darker than the others and is made at the end of the sugaring season. It imparts the strongest flavor of maple--maybe too strong for some with notes of caramel. This is sometimes called "cooking syrup" because it's primarily used in recipes--meat marinades, breads, muffins, etc. According to Vermont's literature, this grade is gaining popularity in use at the table. 
Vermont calls this one "Grade B" ~ Canada calls it "No. 2 Amber."

Final note: Vermont has a Grade even darker than B called "Commercial" ~ Canada calls this very dark Grade "No. 2 Dark," but you're not likely to see these grades sold in stores. Also - according to the University of Vermont, Canada uses slightly different color standards, which lead to slightly darker syrups in each of the above grades. 

And there you have it, the grades explained!

As for my recipe today, it's a simple but delicious one that makes use of pure maple syrup. The cookies are great with coffee, tea, or big glass of moo juice. If you bake them, I certainly hope you will...

Eat with joy!
~ Cleo 

Cleo Coyle's
Maple Sugar Cookies

Recipe adapted from The Vermont
Maple Festival Maple Cookbook*

(*Ingredients were changed, and the directions were changed and completely rewritten--but the cookbook did inspire me!)

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

Makes about 2 dozen cookies 

½ cup (8 tablespoons) butter
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup (the real stuff, not "pancake syrup")
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
(for rolling) 1/3 cup white, granulated sugar


Step 1 - Make the dough: Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and light brown sugar. When well blended, add the maple syrup, lightly beaten egg, and vanilla, and mix until well blended. Lightly sift the dry ingredients (flour, salt, and baking soda) into the bowl and mix until a dough forms. Do not over mix or you will develop the gluten in the flour and your cookies will be tough instead of tender. Chill for about 30 minutes. 

Step 2 – Roll and bake: Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the dough into balls of about 1-inch in diameter. Drop each dough ball into a shallow bowl of granulated sugar (about
1/3 cup) and lightly coat before placing on the sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, remove from oven, cool and...

Eat 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
Learn about my books here.

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are 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. 
To learn more, click here. 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

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

To learn more, click here