Sunday, May 7, 2017

Jenn McKinlay with Whoopie Pies and About a Dog! #recipe #giveaway


LUCY BURDETTE: I'm so delighted to welcome Jenn McKinlay back to our blog! She's been incredibly productive since she left several years ago, working on three mystery series and a brand-new romantic comedy series, debuting this month. She's celebrating with us early with whoopie pies and a measuring spoon giveaway! Welcome Jenn!

JENN MCKINLAY: The research is brutal, really.

     About two years ago, I was looking for a new agent. I decided instead of trying to pick one over the phone or through email, I’d go to New York and meet them in person. I wanted to have a feel for the next agent I hired. While there, I decided to visit my editor at Berkley as well. Things were interesting at the publishing house. Penguin had just merged with Random House, there were lots of offices being packed up, change (read people freaking out and looking upset) was definitely in the air. 
     Feeling that it might be a good time to diversify my writing (as in I was afraid cozy mysteries were dying and I’d better come up with a new trick pretty quick), I asked my editor what else she thought I could write. She turned away from me and studied her bookcase, she selected some books and then turned back and pushed them across the desk toward me. “You can do this,” she said. This turned out to be a stack of romantic comedies. Huh. I’d tried this genre before and it hadn’t worked out for me. That’s a euphemism for I got fired, in case you’re wondering. Oh, the irony!

     Still I thought I’d give it a go. I took the train back to New Haven, thumbing through the books as I went. I started to think up different ideas, sifting through possibilities, until I had a kernel of an idea. Over the next several weeks visiting family and friends in New England, the kernel popped into the full blown plot for ABOUT A DOG. I drove up the coast to Maine, where I’d decided to set the series, and immersed myself in all things concerning the Pine Tree state. Ayuh, that’s Maine’s nickname not the Lobster state, as I would have thought.

     Anyway, after shopping myself broke at L.L. Bean, I then moved on to another Maine staple – the whoopie pie. Chocolate cake with vanilla marshmallow filling – come to Mama! See? I told you the research was brutal! I am not kidding when I tell you that my days started to be one whoopie or two whoopie pie days. It was then that I knew I’d be writing a whoopie pie shop into the series with the name Makin’ Whoopie – naturally!

     We don’t have whoopie pies in Arizona, so I decided I was going to have to make my own if I wanted to write about the bakery. I went with the traditional whoopie pie recipe to start, but my research has shown that there are whoopie pies of every flavor you can imagine and I plan to imagine a lot of them in the books, which my publisher calls the Bluff Point series, so I’m thinking another research trip to Maine will be happening again soon! For now, here’s the recipe I used to make my own homegrown whoopie pies:

The Cookie

Ingredients:



 2 cups flour

½ cup cocoa
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, well shaken
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg

Directions: Preheat oven to 350F. Mix together dry ingredients – flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl at medium speed until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Alternately mix in dry ingredients and buttermilk until smooth. Spoon ¼ cup mounds of batter about two inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 11 to 13 minutes until top is puffed and springs back when touched. 

Tip: I found that if you cook them on the top and bottom racks of the oven and swap them halfway through the cooking, they cook more evenly.

The Filling:

 Ingredients:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups confectioner’s sugar
2 cups Marshmallow Fluff
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions: Beat together all ingredients with mixer at medium speed for three minutes until smooth.

Putting the pies together: Spread a heaping tablespoon of the filling onto the flat side of one cookie and top with another. Easy Peasy!

For more things whoopie pie, Maine, dogs, romance, and comedy, check out my new series starting with ABOUT A DOG to be released on May 30th. Much to my delight, it has already received a starred review from Booklist and 4 stars from Romantic Times. "With a perfect sense of comic timing and a gift for creating endearingly eccentric characters...McKinlay delivers a sweetly satisfying contemporary romance that will have readers sitting up and begging for more." — (★ starred review) Booklist 

Here’s a brief description: Fall in love with a little help from man’s best friend in New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay’s contemporary romance debut. Mackenzie “Mac” Harris fled her hometown of Bluff Point, Maine, after being left at the altar—and seeking solace in the arms of her best friend’s off-limits brother. Now, seven years later, she’s back to attend her best friend’s wedding—safe, or so she thinks, from the mistakes of her youth.
But Gavin Tolliver has never forgotten the woman who has always held his heart. And when Mac rescues a stray puppy named Tulip, only Gavin, the town’s veterinarian, can help. With a little assistance from Tulip, Gavin vows to make Mac realize that their feelings are more than just puppy love…

Thanks for inviting me to visit, ladies, Lucy! It’s always a pleasure to see what’s cooking in the kitchen!  Happy Reading, Jenn

Leave a comment with your email to be entered in the drawing for a set of cool cupcake measuring spoons...

69 comments:

  1. I must make these soon! Yum! Thanks for the chance to win the spoons!

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    1. Hub has already requested more. I may master a new flavor!

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  2. Love the whoopie pie recipe, the book sounds great, and the spoons are awesome! EMS591@aol.com

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  3. Nice post. Looks like the best part of writing is the research. Recipe looks delish. Book looks really good. Spoons? Useful. Della at deepotter (at) peoplepc (dot) com

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    1. I think that may explain why there are so many culinary mysteries - research!

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  4. A title which includes the word "dog" is one I'd automatically pick up. Can't wait to read. And I've been looking for a treat to make for today's dinner. Looks like Whoppie Pies are on the menu. Thanks for the recipe. dbahn(at)iw(dot)net

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  5. Smart planning on your part! Plus you get to stretch yourself in your writing. And the whoopie pies look great.

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    1. I think it was more dumb luck - which seems to be my business model! LOL.

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  6. Love those treats. Yum. The book interests me very much. What special spoons. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  7. The whoopie pies sound amazing -- especially the filling - yum! I'm looking forward to reading About a Dog. bobandcelia@sbcglobal.net

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    1. Thank you! Next up I may try to master the macaron.

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  8. Any dog story is wonderful. Thanks for your great recipe and the spoons are delightful. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  9. I still love the measuring spoons

    Theradels@gmail.com

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  10. I've never made whoppie pies but I have 2 children that are urging me to try! Love all your books!

    robinrussow@gmail.com

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  11. The recipe and pictures sound and look great. I'll be looking for the new series. I shuffle between cozy mysteries and romance and love Maine and dogs. pat_ruta@hotmail.com

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  12. Yummy, I think I'll add this dessert to our Memorial Day clam bake. Thanks for the recipe and offering the giveaway, lilflynracer at msn.com

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  13. Welcome back! It's good to "see" you again.
    What is it with publishers? Why are they down on cozies now?

    Whoopie pies are amazing in their varieties. Thanks for the recipe.

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    1. No idea, Libby, but it sure is keeping authors on our toes!

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  14. The new series sounds like fun, I look forward to reading it! I love series that include dogs and cats...and what to not like about a vet? ....The recipe looks fabulous and like a place mocha is waiting to happen! ...it will be appearing in my kitchen soon! The measuring spoons are lovely (crossing fingers for luck!) dianne710 AT comcast.net

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  15. Thanks for chance aruss1965@gmail.com

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  16. I love your books. Great interview and recipe. Thank you for this chance. areewekidding@yahoo.com

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