Sunday, April 20, 2014

Guest Judith Arnold and her Death-by-Chocolate Cookies

Please welcome Judith Arnold (also know as Barbara Keiler) to Mystery Lovers' Kitchen! I met Judith a decade ago, when I took my first baby steps into writing by joining the local chapter of Romance Writers of America. If you think I'm prolific, Judith has me trumped several times over. I'm happy to say that now she's come over to the dark side with her first mystery, Dead Ball. And you can tell she's a smart woman: she's luring us in with chocolate!

by Judith Arnold

Happy Easter! Happy Passover! Happy Spring! I’m so grateful to Sheila Connolly for inviting me to hang out with the talented author-chefs in the Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen.

Although I’ve written more than ninety romance and women’s fiction novels, I’m a rookie when it comes to mysteries. My debut mystery, Dead Ball, is out now. The first book in the “Still Kicking” mystery series, Dead Ball has as its heroine Lainie Lovett, a middle-aged widow with two children teetering on the edge of adulthood, a job she loves teaching fourth grade, and a passion for playing soccer. Her life gets absurdly complicated when she sees the husband of one of her teammates canoodling with a woman who’s not his wife—and he subsequently turns up dead. Lainie doesn’t do too much cooking in Dead Ball, although at one point, in a spasm of maternal sentiment, she bakes a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Her daughter Karen, who has moved back home after graduating from college and discovering that her degree in classics has rendered her virtually unemployable, finds that cooking is good therapy when she has romantic troubles. At one point, infuriated by her boyfriend, she vents her rage by flattening raw chicken breasts with a mallet from Lainie’s tool box. In the second book of the “Still Kicking” series, Karen tackles more challenging recipes, including butterfly shrimp and tacos from scratch.

That book is currently sitting on my editor’s desk. I’ve just gotten started writing the third book in the series, in which the murder weapon has something to do with chocolate—which is why I’ve decided to share my recipe for Death-By-Chocolate Cookies.

I should add here that I am better at writing than at baking. But these cookies are blessedly simple to make. The only difficult thing about them is trying to limit your consumption of them. And really, if you’re going to be killed by something, it might as well be chocolate. At least you’ll die with a smile on your face! 

Death-By-Chocolate Cookies:

1 package (8 oz.) semisweet baking chocolate
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups chopped walnuts 

Microwave the baking chocolate on high for 2 minutes, melting the chocolate into a thick liquid. Stir until smooth. Blend in the brown sugar, softened butter, eggs and vanilla. Then slowly add the flour, baking powder, chocolate chips and walnuts. Mix thoroughly. Drop onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake at 350° for 12-13 minutes, until cookies look puffed and set. Cool and store in a tight container. 

As you can see from the photo, they aren’t the prettiest cookies you’ll ever bake. It doesn’t matter. Sometimes beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes it’s on the tongue of the chocolate-lover. Enjoy!

USA Today bestselling author Judith Arnold has won awards and recognition from Publishers Weekly, Romance Writers of America, RT Magazine, EPIC (the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition), and New England Chapter-RWA. Married and a mother of two sons, Judith lives near Boston in a house with four guitars, three pianos, a violin, an electric keyboard, a balalaika, a kazoo, and a set of bongo drums. She stays connected with friends and fans via her website < >,
Twitter <>,
and her newsletter <>.

Dead Ball Blurb:  

Lainie Lovett’s got to solve this murder—her soccer team's schedule depends on it!  

Who pulled the trigger of the nail gun that killed her teammate’s husband, construction tycoon Arthur Cavanagh? His widow, who'd sworn to kill him if he ever cheated on her? His hostile teenage son, who felt neglected by his father? His sexy foreman, who'd regularly fought with him? The angry environmentalists, protesting his latest development? Or the blond mystery woman who'd been seen with him the night of his death? Lainie needs to find the culprit or the bumbling local police will charge her with the murder. It doesn’t take long before she’s up to her shin guards in trouble.

Dead Ball has been selected as a Monthly Deal by Amazon. For the month of April, the Kindle edition is priced at only $1.99.


  1. Welcome to MLK! You have been busy--no wonder you don't have much time to cook. Thanks for the chocolate and look forward to your mysteries! Lucy

  2. So nice to have you here at MLK, Judith. Your cookies sound delicious and so do your mysteries.

    All the best,

    MJ aka Victoria Abbott

  3. Happy Easter, everyone, and a big warm chocolate welcome to you, Judith! Thanks for sharing with us today. DEAD BALL sounds like a terrific read, and those cookies are def. to die for--easy, tasty, and drenched in the perfect flavor for Easter. Chocolate cheers and have a great day...

    ~ Cleo

  4. Welcome, Judith! What an extensive car eery you've had. Thanks for sharing a deadly chocolate recipe. :) Happy Easter to all!

    Daryl / Avery

  5. I wish you lots of success with the mysteries. Thanks for the cookie recipe. Mmm. The recipe looks delicious. Happy Easter everyone.

  6. As they say in Maine, these look wicked good!

  7. I wonder if this recipe would be good with peanuts. My boys would probably like that better.

  8. Thanks for the welcome, everyone! I figure folks are going to run out of chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs sooner or later, so you'll need some chocolate back-up to avoid withdrawal. Angie, I'm sure you could substitute peanuts. I'd go with unsalted, not salted.

  9. Welcome to Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, Judith! We love chocolate! And cookies. Sounds like the perfect combination.

    Happy Easter, Everyone!


  10. This is so unfair. I just got of my exercise bike and I read this scrumptious recipe. Sounds, wonderful, Judith, and as someone who is reading Dead Ball right now, I can see that you're multi-talented ;) Happy Easter, everyone.