Today we welcome Jessie Crockett, sharing her recipe for Maple Blondies. A nearly life-long resident of the Granite State, Jessie claims to adore black flies, 98% humidity and snow banks taller than the average grandmother. Her debut mystery, Live Free or Die, won the 2011 Daphne du Maurier Award for Mainstream Mystery. She’s now writing the new Sugar Grove Mystery series. Learn more about Jessie and her books at her website.
Every job has its hazards. For mystery writers one of them is research. There are plenty of us who head out to the firing range to get the feel for weaponry or go on ride-alongs with local law enforcement. I’ve heard other writers talk about the lengths they will go to in order to determine if some of the action scenes they’ve written are physically possible. Some of us pull over to the side of perilously steep roads and peer over the embankment wondering how it would feel to tumble down it and whether or not a body could be completely hidden at the bottom.
But in my experience there is one sort of research that is more dangerous than all the others: Recipe testing. I am currently writing a cozy series with a culinary bent. The series is set on a family farm in New Hampshire and the main character is a sugar maker. As in maple sugar. And, of course, maple syrup. I’m sure you can understand the risks I’m facing.
You can imagine how hard it is to force myself to taste and tweak and taste some more. Keeping ahead of the calories is a constant struggle. I use my treadmill, walk the beach and park as far away as possible from the entrance of any store. With taste testing for the next manuscript underway I may be forced to take up weight-lifting just to break even.
Even worse is the way my bad influence has dragged others down this dark path. Over the past couple of years my family and friends have courted danger right along with me by taste testing dish after maple-flavored dish. Perhaps the most difficult thing to endure was the maple martinis which left us shaken and stirred.
So in the end, has it been worth the time invested and the risk to waistlines and blood sugar? I’ve included one of the recipes Dani Greene, the protagonist in Drizzled with Death, enjoyed so you can judge for yourself—if you dare.
I stick or 1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
a pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray an 8” x 8” baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
In a saucepan heat the butter and brown sugar over low heat until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the maple syrup, egg, and maple extract. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, nutmeg and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the contents of the saucepan. Whisk together until smooth. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 22-28 minutes.
These are meant to be soft, even a bit undercooked by most baking standards. If this is not to your liking, increase the baking time by three-minute intervals until a desired degree of firmness is achieved.
Drizzled with Death
A Sugar Grove Mystery
Meet Dani Greene – a fourth- generation maple syrup maker dealing with a first-class troublemaker…
The annual pre-Thanksgiving pancake-eating contest is a big event in Sugar Grove, New Hampshire. It’s sponsored by the Sap Bucket Brigade, aka the firefighters auxiliary, and the Greene family farm provides the syrup. But when obnoxious outsider Alanza Speedwell flops face first into a stack of flapjacks during the contest, Greener Pastures’ syrup falls under suspicion.
Dani knows the police—including her ex-boyfriend—are barking up the wrong tree, and she’s determined to pull her loved ones out of a very sticky situation. The odds may be stacked against her, but she’s got to tap the real killer before some poor sap in her own family ends up trading the sugarhouse for the Big House…