Sunday, June 21, 2015

Please welcome guest Penny Pike!

We're thrilled to have Penny Pike with us today--her cozy series revolves around food trucks and this one features CHOCOLATE and who doesn't like chocolate!  Welcome, Penny!

By Penny Pike AKA Penny Warner

Like most readers of mystery novels—aw let’s face it, like most women on the planet—I’m a choc-addict. That’s sort of like being a crack addict but more fattening. I just introduced the drug to my five-year-old granddaughter—I gave her a Hersey’s Kiss—and now all she talks about is getting more “shock-lit.” Apparently the addiction runs in the family.
Naturally my protagonist, Darcy Burnett, featured in my mystery series, DEATH OF A CRABBY COOK and DEATH OF A CHOCOLATE CHEATER, has this same disorder. She claims she uses it for its health benefits. Chocolate is known to help alleviate depression, lower  blood pressure and cardiovascular problems, relieve PMS, increase your circulatory system, boost cognitive abilities, lower cholesterol and possibly help prevent cancer. So when she’s assigned by the newspaper to write a stringer article on the upcoming San Francisco Chocolate Festival, she’s on it like melted chocolate on, well, just about anything.
Unfortunately, Darcy finds chocolates are sometimes lethal, as is the case in DEATH OF A CHOCOLATE CHEATER. Darcy and her Aunt Abby, along with hot cream puff guy Jake Miller, are serving chocolate goodies from their food trucks at the Chocolate Festival. But when one of the judges is found floating in a vat of liquid chocolate, Darcy soon discovers the judge’s death is no accident. Someone has dipped the intoxicated woman in her favorite dessert.
So how did Darcy end up in this chocolate mess? That’s the way I wrote her, of course. After all, it’s a murder mystery. While I haven’t had much experience killing people in vats of chocolate, I’ve certainly had lots of experience with chocolate—eating it, mostly. And since they say, “Write what you know,” what choice did I have?
Naturally the book contains recipes for all sorts of chocolate treats. Here are a couple to get you started.
ADVISORY: Keep chocolate handy while reading DEATH OF A CHOCOLATE CHEATER.

Aunt Abby’s Chocolate Raspberry Whoopie Pies

If you haven’t tried a whoopie pie, you’re missing a classic American treat! Traditionally, a whoopie pie is a sandwich of two cakey cookies with a fluffy marshmallow center. But that’s just the beginning. Try Aunt Abby’s Chocolate Raspberry Whoopie Pies, which took first place at the San Francisco Chocolate Festival competition.

Ingredients for Chocolate Cakey Cookie

1 ¾ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
½ cup unsweetened good quality cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Mix flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
  4. Combine butter and sugar in a separate bowl.
  5. Beat in egg.
  6. Add cocoa powder and vanilla and mix well.
  7. Stir in flour mixture and milk until smooth.
  8. Spoon dough into 2 tbsp.-sized balls onto baking sheet, about two inches apart.
  9. Bake for 11-13 minutes until cakes spring back when touched.
  10. Cool completely.
  11. Spread raspberry filling (below) onto one cakey cookie and top with another cakey cookie.

Ingredients for Raspberry Filling

            1 cup softened butter
            ¼ cup raspberry puree
            1 tbsp. milk
            1 tsp vanilla
            3 cups powdered sugar          


  1. Beat butter in medium bowl.
  2. Add raspberry puree, milk, vanilla, and 2 cups powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
  3. Add more powdered sugar is needed to thicken frosting.
  4. Spread onto cakey cookie.
Makes 16 whoopie pies.

Jake Miller’s Mocha Mousse Cream Puffs

Cream puffs, like whoopie pies, are so versatile when it comes to mixing and matching the outsides with the fillings. This melt-in-your-mouth puff is perfect with a latte in the morning, a glass of milk in the afternoon, and a bottle of red wine in the evening.

Ingredients for cream puff shell

½ cup water
4      tbsps. butter
Pinch of sugar
½ cup flour
2 beaten eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine water, butter, sugar and salt in medium pan and bring to boil.
  3. Remove from heat and add flour.
  4. Place back on medium heat and stir well with wooden spoon for 30 seconds.
  5. Remove from heat and pour into bowl; stir 1 minute.
  6. Add eggs, half at a time, stirring constantly until batter is smooth.
  7. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Scoop mixture into balls and place on prepared baking sheet. Leave 2 inches between puffs.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown, light, and crisp; cool on rack.

Ingredients for mocha filling
            1 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
            6 tbsps. good quality semisweet chocolate chips
            1 ½ tbsps. sugar
            Dash salt
            1 tsp vanilla
            1 tsp instant coffee granules
            Powdered sugar


  1. Combine 6 tablespoons of cream, the chocolate chips, sugar, and salt in a saucepan.
  2. Cook over low heat until chips are melted and ingredients are blended.
  3. Remove from heat and gradually stir in vanilla, coffee and remaining cream.
  4. Refrigerate for two hours.
  5. Beat filling until stiff.
  6. Fill puff shells with mocha filling.
  7. Dust with powdered sugar, or drizzle raspberry sauce over top.

Makes 8-10 depending on size of puff.
Penny Pike AKA Penny Warner is the author of the new mystery series featuring food trucks, set in San Francisco, including DEATH OF A CRABBY COOK and DEATH OF A CHOCOLATE CHEATER. The third book in the series, DEATH OF A BAD APPLE, will be out in 2016. (Obsidian/NAL/Penguin). She can be reached at


  1. Thank you for sharing the recipes! I am a big fan of chocolate and cozy mysteries. I am looking forward to reading Death of a Chocolate Cheater for it sounds like a great cozy.

  2. If you need a taste-tester in MN, I'm volunteering! Looking forward to the latest food truck adventure of Darcy and Aunt Abby - she's a hoot! - and the gang.

  3. Welcome Penny--those recipes are to die for. I must go in search of a mocha cream puff...and the book looks wonderful!

  4. “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” – Charles M. Schulz

    Wonderful post today, Penny. Death of a Chocolate Cheater sounds like a terrific read. Thanks for sharing yourself and your recipes with us today! - Cleo

  5. Good grief, these recipes look fabulous!

  6. Killed in a vat of chocolate?
    What a waste...
    of chocolate!

  7. Can I make the mocha filling and just eat it with a spoon? I'm a sucker for anything mocha. Oh, right, there's a book--I'll try that too.

  8. Love the series and these recipes are out of this world. Thanks

  9. Thanks so much for the sweet comments! Reading them after a wonderful Father's Day BBQ is frosting on the cream puff...

  10. I probably won't be making this but it was fun reading about the book and the recipe! Thanks!