Friday, September 10, 2010

Special Guest: Jenn McKinlay

Today, I'm welcoming Jenn McKinlay (also known as Lucy Lawrence) to the Fatal Foodies kitchen. Jenn is a talented author of cupcake mysteries, decoupage mysteries, romantic comedies, and library lover's mysteries.

Gayle: Jenn, how does the tone differ in your decoupage mysteries versus your cupcake mysteries? (For example, my cake decorating series tends to be more comical than my embroidery series.)

Jenn: What is it about food that lends itself to wackiness? A reviewer recently described my Cupcake Bakery Series as very Lucy and Ethel, which I took to be a great compliment since I Love Lucy is one of my favorite shows of all time.

The decoupage mystery series and the upcoming library lover's mystery series share the same type of irreverent humor as the cupcake bakery series, but frosting gets flung in the cupcake series and you just don't see that over the top type of humor in the other two.

Gayle: If you couldn't write cozy mysteries, what genre would you choose?

Jenn: Well, I used to write romantic comedies, so I've been there and bought the t-shirt. I love writing mysteries, but if I was kicked to the curb tomorrow, I would probablywrite young adult adventure stories. I have two young sons and we've been having a ball reading the classics (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) as well asthe newer sensations (The Shadows: The Books Of Elsewhere). It seems the place you can take the greatest risks as a novelist is in young adult literature. Children are much more open minded, I think.

Gayle: Great observation! What writer(s) inspired you to become a writer yourself?

Jenn: Lucy Maude Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott. I read all of their works when I was eleven years old and knew then that I would be a writer someday.

Gayle: How do you feel writing one of your series under a pen name helps or hinders you?

Jenn: It helps by giving you a new identity in that you can break away from your other series and draw new readers, while it hurts because if readers like your work, they may not find you under another name. It's a mixed bag, for sure.

Gayle: Do you have a favorite recipe to share with us?

Jenn: Absolutely! This is my favorite cupcake recipe from the series. Melanie Cooper, my heroine in the cupcake bakery series, will occassionally get insomnia. This is called Moonlight Madness and its her go-to cupcake for nights that she can't sleep (mine, too)!

Moonlight Madness Cupcakes:

A chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting rolled in shredded coconut and topped with an unwrapped Hersey’s Kiss.

1 ½ cups flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, room temperature
¾ cup milk
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup water, warm
1 bag shredded coconut, sweetened

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil, extract and water. Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Scoop into paper lined cupcake pans and bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Makes 18.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1 cup butter, softened
1 tspn vanilla extract
4 cups confectioner's sugar
2-3 tbspns milk, or whipping cream

In a large bowl, cream butter and vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides of bowl often. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. For best results, keep icing in refrigerator when not in use. This icing can be stored up to 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.
Makes 3 cups of icing.

To finish the Moonlight Madness Cupcakes, spread a generous amount of the vanilla buttercream frosting on top of the cupcake with a rubber spatula, then roll the top of
the cupcake in a bowl of shredded coconut before the frosting dries so the coconut
will adhere to the frosting. Top with an unwrapped Hersey’s Kiss.

Gayle: That sounds delicious!

Jenn: Thanks for having me visit! It's been a pleasure!


Marian Allen said...

Jenn, I love food mysteries (no surprise!) and I love cupcakes. My #3 daughter had cupcakes on tiers instead of a wedding cake.

I think you're absolutely right about young adult fiction being great to read and write. Only Jasper Fforde, as far as I know, is as free-wheeling as the best YA writers.

A cupcake recipe that made 18 would kill me. Got any that makes one or two?

Marian Allen

Jenn McKinlay said...

Hi, Marian,

I only wish cupcakes had been an option when I got married but I'd have gone nuts trying to pick flavors! LOL. I don't have a recipe for one or two, but I did find a cool cookbook for microwave mug cakes that I'm going to try. I'll let you know!


Marian Allen said...

Oh, I make those all the time--they're great! My favorite is:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup marmalade
2 tbs cocoa
pinch of salt
1 egg
Um yum!

Marian Allen

Lisa Hall said...

The t-shirt is so cute! You have a great theme to play with. I bet you have lots of fun with it.