Anyone out there reading culinary mysteries? I’ve always loved a good book, and when I learned there is an entire genre devoted to food fiction there was no stopping me. I go so far as to keep a spreadsheet (oh, the geekiness) of the 21 or so series I follow, complete with columns for author, website, and series titles.
A decade or so back, our local library hosted a mystery book club. When I saw they were featuring a food mystery I’d recently read, I signed on for the meeting. These mystery fiction buffs tore my little culinary crime to pieces. Weak plot, they said. Too many loose ends. One-dimensional characters. All the while I was thinking, “but it has recipes!”
It’s absolutely all about the food for me. Some series are better written than others, but they’ve all been fun, solid reads. The stories are light and entertaining. There’s little violence and no gore. The prose is usually rich with food-related descriptions (butter lemon sky, coconut-white snow). And the heroines (so far, all but one protagonist has been female), whether cookie baker, donut maker, coffee shop owner, tea shop lady, television cooking star, caterer, or chocolatier always saves the day. And yes, the recipes: Most series feature recipes throughout or a handful at the end. I’ll often copy and try anything that looks unusual or amazing. The following, from Joann Fluke’s fun-to-read Cinnamon Roll Murder, qualifies as both.
Sinco de Cocoa Cookies
A few tweaks, but mostly taken straight from Cinnamon Roll Murder. Fluke explains her play on the word “cinco” (five main ingredients–butter, flour, eggs, sugar, avocado) as these cookies being “sin”fully delicious. They are excellent–rich, deep, and dark. Avocado seems a strange addition, though it contributes to the cookies’ richness for sure. Make ’em, serve ’em, and surprise your friends and family.
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened baking chocolate (I used a baking chocolate substitution: 3 tablespoons baking cocoa and 1 tablespoon oil for each ounce chocolate for a total of 9 tablespoons cocoa and 3 tablespoons oil)
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup very ripe avocado (about 1 large)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- Coarse salt
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease baking sheets.
In saucepan, gently melt butter and chocolate. Set aside to cool.
In large bowl, combine sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla until blended. Stir in cooled chocolate mixture. Blend in avocado. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir flour mixture and chocolate chips into batter just until combined.
Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls onto baking sheets. Flatten slightly with clean hand or back of spatula. Sprinkle very lightly with coarse salt. Bake 13 to 15 minutes or just until set. As with brownies, take care not to overbake or cookies will be dry. Cool on wire racks. Makes about 5 dozen.