Showing posts with label peanut butter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label peanut butter. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch Gluten-free cookie #recipe #book giveaway

Thanks to all of you, INHERIT THE WORD hit the national bestseller lists! Whee. My editor is very pleased.

This past weekend, I did a book signing at the fabulous Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in Redondo Beach.

[I know this isn't a great picture, but it shows how roomy yet inviting the store is.]

I adore talking to people at a store. The in-person contact is so special. We don't just chat about books and characters and writing and marketing but life in general. For a writer who spends most of her days in front of a computer, that's a joy!

Look at this great sign found on the end of a bookcase. It made me laugh out loud!

Everyone who works at the store is so great! Knowledgeable.  [Pre-photo] Nice set up. See the cheese and chocolate on the table back right? Say cheese!

Two fans won books or a mug of chocolate from the raffle I offered!

Moving on...

Last week's winner of the Cheese Shop/Cookbook Nook 
giveaway is:

CYN 209! 

Congratulations!!!  I'll be contacting you to find out which book you wish. 
I'll be having another giveaway this week, too, so chime in below... 
It's fun to celebrate!!

As I stated above, Inherit the Word has been out for a week. I truly appreciate any of you who might have written a review or shared the title with a friend!! Word of mouth seems to be the best way to sell a book.

Throughout the book (and the Cookbook Nook series, for that matter), Katie, the chef at the Nook Café, prepares snacks and taste-test treats for the customers to enjoy. It's a lure to bring them from the cookbook shop into the café. Jenna happens to be a big fan of Katie's cookies. This particular selection Katie makes for a friend who needs to eat gluten-free. Katie says these cookies are "almost" like a protein bar in texture. If you don't need to make them gluten-free, simple swap out the flour for regular flour and omit the xanthan gum!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch Cookie Ala Katie
(Yield: 12-16 cookies)

1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large egg
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanillin
2 tablespoons water
1 cup gluten-free flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups crispy rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies or Rice Chex)
1/2 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375°F.

Mix the butter and sugars in a large bowl. Add the eggs, peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of water, and vanillin and beat on medium for one minute.

In a separate bowl, mix the gluten-free flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and mix on low speed.

Fold in the rice cereal and chocolate chips. Note: If you use chex-style cereal, crush them slightly in a plastic bag.

Line a 13 x 9 pan with parchment paper. Press the dough onto the parchment paper.

Bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes and then cut into bars or squares.

Note: These can be made as individual cookies. Using a spoon, put out scoops of dough about an inch or two apart on a cookie sheet. Press with a fork to flatten. Cook for 12 minutes, until golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before removing with a spatula.

For the book giveaway this week, leave a comment with your email included. If you tweet or share on Facebook, tell me in your comment and you'll be entered TWICE. 

I'll give you your choice of one of the Cheese Shop mysteries, including the latest DAYS OF WINE AND ROQUEFORT, or a copy of FINAL SENTENCE, the 1st in the Cookbook Nook mysteries. I'll announce the winner next week. Good luck!


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Check out our website.

Days of Wine and Roquefort 
is out!
order here
Inherit the Word
  is out!
                        order here

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

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How to make Frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bites #dairyfree #glutenfree by Cleo Coyle

Chocolate and peanut butter make a classic combo. According to US sales, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are the #1 candy in America, and our household definitely contributed to that stat. Last fall, I even blogged an easy recipe for Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cake...

To download my recipe for this Easy Reese's
Peanut Butter Cup Cake,
click here.

My husband, Marc, is an especially devoted fan. Though he and I grew up in different Western Pennsylvania towns, we both well remember family trips to Hershey, PA.

We often throw Reese's minis in the freezer, especially in the summer months. They keep well and when you pop them in your mouth, they taste like an ice cream treat.

The problem? It's candy. Not the healthiest of daily treats.

A Healthier Alternative?

A few years back, Trader Joe's introduced Chocolate Covered Banana Slices. While this is a great idea, they sell out fast.

Today's recipe solved two problems for us:

(1) We can have chocolate covered banana slices whenever we want and...

(2) By adding peanut butter, these treats 
nicely replace our Reese's Peanut Butter Cup cravings. 

After a night in the freezer, the chocolate-enrobed
banana slices become wonderfully creamy, much like
ice cream. The flavor of banana becomes less pronounced,
letting the more powerful notes of chocolate and
peanut butter drench your tongue with that classically
satisfying combo.

This is a treat I make all the time.
I hope you enjoy it as much as Marc and I do...

~ Cleo

Cleo Coyle is author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries.
Learn more by clicking here.

Cleo Coyle's
Frozen Chocolate
Peanut Butter
Banana Bites

Trader Joe's went bananas a few years ago by introducing frozen chocolate covered banana slices, and many people went bananas over them.

Making your own is easy and economical. Even better, you can be selective about the ingredients and make them as healthy (or as decadent) as you like.

My two little contributions to this relatively simple process are...

(1) The addition of peanut butter sandwiched between the slices and...

(2) The use of Almond Milk in creating the chocolate coating. 

Almond Milk not only contributes wonderful flavor to the chocolate, it also lets dairy-free eaters enjoy the treat. 

FYI - Recent studies have shown that dark chocolate has great health benefits, but ingesting dairy milk with it can lessen those benefits

If you are a dairy-free eater, be sure to purchase dairy-free chocolate for the recipes. Below is just one example of a product that can help you out...

The "Enjoy Life" brand of semi-sweet chocolate chips are dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free, click here to learn more, read reviews, and/or purchase.

The recipe below is easy but can be tricky. I included some tips that I hope will help you get the best results. May you eat with joy...and in good health! 

~ Cleo

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

Makes 10 to 12 Banana Bites


1 banana, ripe but still firm (medium to large)

2 to 2-1/2 tablespoons peanut butter or almond or cashew butter 

3 ounces chocolate chips (depending on their size, that's usually 1/2 cup to a heaping 1/2 cup in volume) 

1 tablespoon Almond Milk (darker chocolates may need more)

Health notes on options for chocolate and peanut butter...

*Chocolate note: You can use any chocolate chips you like: milk, semi-sweet, bittersweet, or dark. In my photos today, I used Nestle Dark Chocolate Morsels. If you are a dairy-free and/or gluten free eater, be sure to pick up chocolate chips that say dairy-free or gluten free on the packaging.

*Healthiest chocolate choice: Dark chocolate has wonderful health benefits, click here to read more about them. Note that you may need to use more Almond Milk for darker chocolates.
To read a brand vs. brand
comparison on "Natural"
Peanut Butters,
click here.

*Peanut butter note: Use any peanut butter you like--or almond butter or cashew butter. For a healthy suggestion, try Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter. One of this blog's followers, Libby D., recommended it, and I agree with her. It's one of the best-tasting natural peanut butters on the market. No sugar or preservatives. Just two ingredients: peanuts and a small amount of salt. For more suggestions on natural peanut butters, see the link in the caption to the right. >>


Step 1 - Create the PB banana sandwiches: 
Cut your ripe but firm banana into thin slices, pairing slices by size. Make sure you have at least 12 pairs (24 slices). Smear peanut butter on half of the slices, one for each pair. 

Put the slices together like little sandwiches. You should now have 12 little peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

Step 2: - Melt the chocolate: Pour the chocolate chips into a clean, dry, shallow microwave-safe bowl. Pour the almond milk over the chocolate and stir to coat the pieces well. 

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave with care. Once you boil or burn chocolate, its taste is ruined and there is no saving it. Zap it for 20 seconds, stir. Zap again in small bursts until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth (see my photos).

Step 3 - Troubleshoot (adjust): If the chocolate seems a little thick for dipping, try the following. Pour a very small amount (1 teaspoon) more of the almond milk onto the chocolate. DO NOT MIX IN. Place the bowl back in the microwave and zap for 10 to 15 seconds. Remove and stir. The chocolate should be looser. If you it's still too thick, repeat until you get the desired consistency. If chocolate becomes difficult to work with, return it to the microwave and re-warm it.

Double-Boiler option: You can also place a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water and create a double boiler. Place the chocolate and almond milk in the bowl and stir until melted. Then dip the banana bites into the bowl. While a little more trouble, this method has the advantage of keeping your chocolate warm and pliable through the entire dipping process.

Step 4 - Dip and freeze: One at a time, drop the PB banana sandwiches into the bowl of melted chocolate. 

Using two forks, gently flip the little banana sandwich, moving the chocolate around it until it is coated. Lift the coated banana bite with one fork, allowing the chocolate to drip off...

Be patient and get as much excess chocolate off the bite as you can. Place on a flat pan or plate that's been covered with parchment paper or wax paper.

WARNING: If you don't use wax paper or parchment paper, the chocolate will stick to the surface of your dish or pan as it dries and freezes. 

Ask me how I know. :)

Place your finished bites in the freezer for about 3 hours
or overnight. These are frozen treats, delicious right out
of the freezer. Think of them like ice cream bites.

If serving for a party, keep them frozen
as long as possible. Like ice cream, they will
begin to melt after about 15 to 20 minutes
out of the freezer.

To download
Magic Shell recipe,

click here.


I like the fudgy chocolate this recipe produces because it re-creates the
chewiness of a rich candy. 

If you'd rather make a crisp, thin, hard "Magic Chocolate" shell for your banana slices, that's an easy variation. Just use coconut oil instead of almond milk. For the correct ratios, see my Coffeehouse Banana Split recipe by clicking here
Click here to download
today's recipe, 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
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 book's
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, 

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.