Sunday, June 12, 2022

Coconut Patties from Guest Author Ellen Byron

Vicki here, and I’m delighted to have my good friend, and wonderful author, Ellen Byron here today to tell you about her great NEW series and share a recipe with us.



My new Vintage Cookbook Mystery series, which debuted with Bayou Book Thief, is inspired by my hobby of actually collecting vintage cookbooks, particularly those from various decades of the 20th century. Given the series’ theme, I couldn’t resist including a handful of adapted recipes from my collection in each book. This recipe for coconut patties is from Candies, a promotional booklet (also known as a cookbooklet) published by Pet Milk in 1939 to promote their evaporated milk.


A lot of candy recipes are surprisingly complicated, but not this one. All you need is a heavy pot, a stovetop, a refrigerator, and five ingredients. Of course, I did manage to make a couple mistakes when recreating the recipe for this blog post. There are light brown flecks in the patties because I burned the butter slightly (but it didn’t affect the taste at all). And I accidentally melted twice the amount of butter called for, so I compensated by doubling all the ingredients. The good news is that this left me with enough “batter” to created batches of several different flavors. The consistency of those patties is softer because of the additional liquid flavorings. But it’s so much fun to have banana (yellow), almond (purple), and rum (green) coconut patties in addition to the traditional vanilla.


And notice a theme to the colors? 😉 Laissez les bons temps rouler!


Coconut Patties


¼ cup melted butter

¼ cup evaporated milk

1 tsp. vanilla (Author’s note: you can substitute or add other flavors, like I did)

3 cups powdered sugar

1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

1 cup candied fruit or dried fruit cut into small strips or squares (optional)



Add milk and vanilla to the melted butter and stir until creamy.


Gradually add the powdered sugar by a half cup or cup at a time, stirring to incorporate after each addition.


Add coconut a half cup at a time, stirring after each addition.


Cover a baking sheet with wax paper. Place about a tablespoon at a time of the mixture on the wax paper, pressing down slightly to form a patty. Garnish with dry or candied fruit, if desired.


Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or until the patties are firm.


Servings: approx. 24



About the Book: A new mystery series from USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award–winning author Ellen Byron.


Twenty-eight-year-old widow Ricki James leaves Los Angeles to start a new life in New Orleans after her showboating actor husband perishes doing a stupid internet stunt. The Big Easy is where she was born and adopted by the NICU nurse who cared for her after Ricki’s teen mother disappeared from the hospital.


Ricki’s career dream comes true when she joins the quirky staff of Bon Vee Culinary House Museum, the spectacular former Garden District home of late bon vivant Genevieve “Vee” Charbonnet, the city’s legendary restauranteur. Ricki is excited about turning her avocation – collecting vintage cookbooks – into a vocation by launching the museum’s gift shop, Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks and Kitchenware. Then she discovers that a trunk of donated vintage cookbooks doesn’t contain books – it holds the body of a cantankerous Bon Vee employee who was fired after being exposed as a book thief.

The skills Ricky has developed ferreting out hidden vintage treasures come in handy for investigations. But both her business and Bon Vee could wind up as deadstock when Ricki’s past as curator of a billionaire’s first edition collection comes back to haunt her.


Will Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks and Kitchenware be a success… or a recipe for disaster?


Ellen’s Cajun Country Mysteries have won multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and multiple Lefty Awards for Best Humorous Mystery. Bayou Book Thief will be the first book in her new Vintage Cookbook Mysteries. She also writes the Catering Hall Mystery series under the name Maria DiRico. 


About Ellen: Ellen is an award-winning playwright, and non-award-winning TV writer of comedies like Wings, Just Shoot Me, and Fairly Odd Parents. She has written over two hundred articles for national magazines but considers her most impressive credit working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart. She blogs with Chicks on the Case, is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, serves on the national board for Mystery Writers of America, and will be the 2023 Left Coast Crime Toastmaster. Please visit her at



  1. Welcome to the blog, Ellen! These sound sweet and easy. Did you add food coloring to various parts of the batter? If so, at what stage? (And where did you find purple food coloring?)

    1. Thanks so much, Edith! And yes. I split the batter into four bowls. I found purple food coloring through a set of colorings I got a while ago from Wilton at Michael's.

  2. Good morning, Just read your post on coconut patties. This look delicious. I have not read one of your books, sound great, will look for in my local library.

  3. Love finding old recipe in old cookbooks! Thanks for the Coconut Patties recipe which sounds so good.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  4. Those old candy booklets are great, I have a couple myself. Definitely trying this one. I absolutely love coconut.

    1. I'm so glad, Alicia. It's easy and delicious. You can add more coconut too. Or use unsweetened to bring down the sugar factor.

  5. I love old cookbooks.
    I wonder if these would work in a candy mold for shaping? With the various colors, it could be fun.

    1. They might without the food coloring. The food coloring adds a little liquid that makes them softer.