If you are looking for a killer chocolate cake recipe, look no further.
Donna Andrews told me about the new cookbook from the Mystery Writers of America and I finally got my hands on a copy. “Wickedly Good Recipes” the cover promises – and delivers.
Literary luminaries like Harlan Coben, Diane Mott Davidson, Lisa Scottoline, and Nelson DeMille have contributed recipes for everything from Fa-La-La Fruitcake Cookies to Male Chauvinist Pigs in the Blanket. Being a mystery writers’ cookbook, it’s no surprise that the book includes a Drinks section with The Switchblade Cocktail (Gary Phillips), The “Smoking Gun” Margarita (Alison Gaylin), and Lee Child’s Coffee, Pot of One.
Last week, friends Martha, Paul, and Ally invited us to dinner and I offered to bring dessert. This was a perfect time to give the cookbook a spin. After scanning the Desserts section, two contenders stood out: Laurie R. King’s Mrs. Hudson’s Coffee Sheet Cookies and James Patterson’s Grandma’s Killer Chocolate Cake. A tough decision, but as usual, chocolate won.
Possessing zero cooking skills and wanting to give the recipe the best possible chance for success, I called in my Stunt Baker ™, my daughter, Charlotte, and let her work her culinary magic while I went to work. I know, I’m awful.
|Lots of butter and chocolate.|
|Ready for frosting.|
When I returned, the siren scent of chocolate, vanilla, and almond called me to the kitchen. The cake’s dark, ganache-like glaze glistened as Charlotte mixed it. A tiny taste of the unfrosted cake confirmed my hope. The flavor was divine. It was as if we’d had a visitation from St. Julia of the Never Empty Wine Glass. The flavor was so intoxicating that I forgot to get a picture of the finished and frosted cake.
I asked Charlotte for a report. Any lumps in this delectable dessert’s recipe?
Just one thing, she said. No surprise in a mystery writer’s cookbook that there was something a bit mysterious about the directions. The recipe calls for “1 and a half teaspoons of baking soda dissolved in two fifths of a cup hot water.” Now I am no baker (see: Stunt Baker) but I don’t recall seeing many 2/5’s in a recipe. No worries with Charlotte in the kitchen, however. The cake was sensational.
Now, we know a lot of things about James Patterson: his 300 million books sold, his generous support of literacy, his advocacy for bookstores. Who knew his grandmother had such a fantastic chocolate cake recipe? No wonder the man looks happy in all his publicity photos.
At the dinner party, that contented silence that settles on a table that has been feasting and laughing signaled a dessert that surpasses expectations. We agreed that the touch of vanilla and almond extracts in the frosting was perfect. We also wondered about the name of the dessert. Grandma’s Killer Chocolate Cake? Or was it Grandma’s Killer’s Chocolate Cake? Maybe it was just the wine talking, but we all agreed that correct punctuation is important and that this is a cake to die for.
If you like chocolate, make this cake. Or get a Stunt Baker™ to do it for you.
The next recipe from MWA’s cookbook to try? Mary Ann Corrigan’s Take Your Pick Vegetable Salad? Alan Orloff’s Killer Tofu? Barbara Ross’ Lobster Pesto Risotto?
Gillian Flynn’s recipe for Beef Skillet Fiesta looks fantastic, but after reading Gone Girl, I am not sure I trust her.
Do you have a dessert recipe to die for?