Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Cleo Coyle's Easy Kahlua Brownies + Haunted Bookshop Tote & Book #Giveaway


From Cleo Coyle: This past Sunday, my husband and I shared a special post about the 2004 beginnings of our Haunted Bookshop mystery series. If you missed it, we invite you to visit the post and enter our book-and-tote giveaway by clicking here or on our book cover below.

Be sure to leave a comment on our Sunday post with your email address, and you will be entered in our prize package giveaway to help celebrate next week's release of our 7th Haunted Bookshop Mystery:

The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait 

by Cleo Coyle

To enter the giveaway for a signed copy of
our new Haunted Bookshop Mystery and the
fun, canvas "Jack is Back!" tote bag, 
click here or on the red button below...

Our giveaway will stay open
until the drawing at Noon
on Saturday 5/1.

As for today, our regular Tuesday gig, we are sharing a recipe with (you guessed it) spiritsWe know Jack, our hardboiled PI ghost, would approve of that idea, so let's get our Kahlua Brownies on...

☕ A Note from Cleo

Cleo Coyle writes two
bestselling mystery
 series with her husband.
To learn more, click here.
As a longtime married couple, my husband and I are pretty well matched. Sure, we have our ups and down, but that bond between kindred spirits is something we understand, and we do our best to bring that understanding to our collaboration as writers, not only in our Coffeehouse Mysteries, but also in our Haunted Bookshop series, especially when it comes to our cosmically paired protagonists: Widowed bookshop owner Penelope Thornton-McClure and Jack Shepard, the gumshoe ghost who haunts her.

As for today's culinary pairing, Kahlua and chocolate are a great match, too. Coffee liqueur gives the chocolate in the brownies a richer and more dimensional taste. And the "spirit" of the rum in the Kahlua brings the party with the flavor. Unfortunately, retaining that flavor is tricky. Many recipes simply instruct you to add Kahlua to your batter, but during the baking, it's partially cooked away. Today’s easy recipe shares how Marc and I make our Kahlua brownies. Here's a hint. We were inspired by the affogato.

Affogato, which means "drowned" in Italian, is a deliciously easy dessert in which Italians simply pour a shot or two of hot espresso (or strongly brewed coffee) over a scoop or two of gelato or ice cream (as shown below)...

How has this inspired our version of Kahlua brownies? You'll see in the recipe! One last note: For convenience today, we're using a mix (as so many people do these days), but feel free to use your favorite scratch brownie recipe. Now let's get our Kahlua brownies on...


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

or on the image below...
Easy Kahlua Brownies

Makes one 9x9 pan of brownies (16 squares)


Butter (for greasing pan and foil)

1 box brownie mix ("family size," see my note below*)

Brewed coffee (to replace water in mix's direction)

1/2 teaspoon instant espresso (see my note below*)

4 Tablespoons Kahlua (or any coffee liqueur)

1/2 cup (approximately) powdered sugar

(optional) 1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, etc...)

Mixes also usually require vegetable oil and eggs (consult box directions)

*Note on selecting brownie mix: The "Family Size" mixes for 13x9 pans almost always give you the option to make your brownies in a 9x9 pan instead. We prefer this option for slightly thicker brownies.

*Note: Instant Espresso is freeze-dried liquid espresso and can come in either powdered or crystal form. When used in baking, it brings fantastic flavor—and better flavor than freeze-dried instant coffee (which can be bitter or sour). Look for espresso powder in the instant coffee section of your grocery store or buy it online. Popular brands include Medaglia D’Oro Instant Espresso Coffee and Ferrara Instant Espresso Coffee.


Step 1 - Prep pan: Line the bottom of your 9x9 metal pan with aluminum foil, allowing some of the foil to hang over two ends (like handles). This lets you lift the brownies completely out of the pan for cutting. Generously grease the foil and unlined sides of the pan with butter or non-stick spray.

Step 2 - Add coffee flavor: Make the brownies as your package directs but start the mixing by completely replacing the water in the mix's directions with brewed coffee and whisk in 1/2 teaspoon of espresso powder...

Step 3 - Finish batter: Once the coffee has cooled off, whisk in the egg (or eggs) and the rest of the required ingredients (most likely vegetable oil). Add the brownie mix and finish the batter as directed. If you like nuts in your brownies, fold in 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans. 

Step 4 - Bake as directed: To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the brownies. If it comes out clean (moist crumbs are fine but there should be no wet batter), then the brownies are done.

Step 5 - Cool and (carefully) poke: Give the brownies 30 to 60 minutes to cool off. You can speed this up by placing the (uncovered) pan on a cold back porch or in your fridge. Cooling off the brownies will allow them to set; make it easier for you to poke clean small holes on the surface; and de-pan and slice them. Use a toothpick to create these holes, which will allow the Kahlua to penetrate the crust and seep into the brownies.

For best results (small, clean holes)...
Insert toothpick and twist as you lift.
Wipe pick clean before poking again.

Step 6 - Pour your Kahlua: The best way to do this is one tablespoon at a time in each quadrant of the brownie pan. Pour the liquid evenly over the top. (My showy shot glass method, as you can see, wasn't quite even enough and I tipped the pan to help distribute the Kahlua over the surface.)

Step 7 - Allow to set, de-pan, and pretty up with powdered sugar: Give the brownies a little time to absorb the Kahlua (at least 15 to 30 minutes). Then de-pan by running a knife along the unlined sides and using the handles to carefully lift the brownies out of the pan.

Use a sieve to evenly distribute
the powdered sugar over
the top of the brownies.

It looks so pretty, doesn't it?
A snowy winter wonderland
of chocolate, coffee, and Kahlua.

Step 8 - Slice and serve: We like to use a sharp pizza cutter, as shown below. The easiest way to get even slices is to eyeball the center of the pan and slice right down the middle of the big square. Then focus on each half and do the same thing, slicing down the center of each half. Use the same method across to create 16 even squares.

For nice, clean cuts when cutting cakes
or brownies, always wipe your
blade clean between each fresh cut.

Eat (and read) with joy!

New York Times bestselling author
of The Coffeehouse Mysteries and
Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

This is us -- Alice and Marc.
Together we write as Cleo Coyle. 

Visit our online coffeehouse here.
And follow us at these links...


Coming May 4, 2021...

Our new mystery!

Learn more or pre-order at:

Amazon * B&N 

Indiebound * BAM 

More Buy Links

“Jack and Pen are a terrific
duo who prove that love
can transcend anything.”

—The Mystery Reader

To learn more, visit our
Haunted Bookshop
clicking here.


Cleo is now working on her 
next book and 

Don't miss her book news, 
bonus recipes, and fun 

prize package giveaways!



Cleo's Free UPDATED!
Checklist of Haunted Bookshop 

Mysteries in Order

The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries are
works of amateur sleuth fiction 
featuring an earnest young widow who runs a
quaint Rhode Island bookshop and the ghost
of a hardboiled PI who haunts her.
Click the image above for Cleo's
free Checklist of Books in Order.

Cleo's Haunted Bookshop

Book & Tote Giveaway!

To enter our Haunted Bookshop Mystery 
Book & Tote Giveaway, click here 
or on the red button below...

The link will take you to our special Sunday post,
where we are hosting the giveaway.

Leave your comment and email address
on our Sunday post to be entered.

Good luck! 



  1. The recipe for Kahlua Brownies sounds yummy! Often I make brownies from scratch, but at times you want something not only good but easy. I will be trying this brownie variation.

    Shared and hoping to be the very fortunate one selected for the great giveaway. Thank you for the chance! <3
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  2. Hi, Kay - We're excited about the new Haunted Bookshop Mystery release, and we thank you for joining us in the Sunday comments for some pre-release giveaway fun.

    The comments on our Sunday post will remain open until Friday.
    Good luck to you and everyone!

    ~ Cleo

  3. Oooo coffee, Kahlua, and chocolate brownies are some of my favorite things...this could become one of my favorite things! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    1. You're welcome, Lil. Thanks for dropping by.