Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Cozy Cupcake by Jenn McKinlay

When did I decide to become a writer? Funny story. True story. I was a teenager and went to see the movie Romancing the Stone. I don't know that I decided to be a writer so much as I decided to be Kathleen Turner. Yes, that would be quite a stretch for me, but living in an apartment in New York City, writing romance novels for a living seemed like a good gig and so the dream began. One problem: I really stunk at writing romance and after struggling for several years, I decided I was much better at killing people than I was at making them fall in love (a fact that really doesn't help my husband sleep at night). And so, a career was born. I'm working on three different series presently, and I couldn't be happier even though I don't look like Kathleen Turner, live in New York City or write romance novels. Sometimes you just have to trust the path your feet land on and follow it to the end.

The Cozy Cupcake
by Jenn McKinlay

A lot of people ask how the cupcake bakery series came into being. Well, I’ll tell you it was just one of those serendipitous sorts of things. In the course of one week, I listened as a soon to be married coworker agonized over what flavor cupcakes to have in her wedding cake tower, then my agent blogged that when she traveled she always checked out the local cupcake bakery, and finally, a dear friend stopped by my house to tell me that a cupcake bakery had opened nearby and that they sold shots of frosting. Seriously, shots of frosting! It was the rule of threes and just like that I knew I had to set a mystery series in a cupcake bakery.

Another thing that helped me with this series is that I love to bake and experimenting in the kitchen is one of my favorite pastimes. I am known for not measuring anything and I never follow a recipe exactly but love to mix it up and change things just ‘cause.

I like to call these experiments the “research and development” portion of my writing adventures. Luckily, I have a family that is fearless about food and always willing to try one of my new concoctions. Now you may ask, how do I come up with the flavors that make it into the books. Well, the Mojito Cupcake came to me after a particularly grueling writing session where I would have welcomed a mojito or two. I thought of the Choco-Pom Cupcake when I looked out my office window and saw my pomegranate tree was heavy with fruit, and so it goes. Inspiration is everywhere!

Today, I’m going to share with you one of my favorite recipes from the series. It is called the Tinkerbell: A lemon cupcake topped with raspberry buttercream! Yum!

The Tinkerbell:


1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened

2 c. granulated sugar

4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1/3 c. grated lemon zest (3 to 4 large lemons)

3 c. flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice

3/4 c. buttermilk, at room temperature

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar until fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Use an ice cream scoop to fill paper lined cupcake pan. Bake 20 minutes. Makes 24.

Raspberry Butter Cream:


1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine softened

4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

1/2 cup fresh raspberries


In large bowl, cream shortening and butter. Add raspberries (should be washed and thoroughly dried). Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides of bowl often. The raspberries give the icing an amazing pink color. But I like to sprinkle the cupcake with a little pink decorating sugar for pizzazz.


Oh, and lastly, from Oct 10th -31st , I will be holding a contest on my website to name Cupcake Mystery #5 to celebrate the release of Death by the Dozen! The winner gets a $40 gift card for cupcake swag at Johnny Cupcakes!!!

Thanks for having me visit, Kaye! I love Meandering and Musings!

Jenn McKinlay

New York Times bestselling author of the Cupcake Bakery mysteries and the Library Lover’s mysteries!!!


Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Jenn, Hi & Welcome! Meanderings and Muses loves you back!!

LOVE this post and am now craving a cupcake (or two). I'm going to make these beautiful Tinkerbelles, but wish I had those darling little dishes to serve them on.

thanks for being here, Jenn.

Jenn McKinlay said...

Aw, thanks for letting me share my cupcake love, Kaye! You have a wonderful blog. I love getting to meet new authors and revisit old authors here.

Vickie said...

This is one of my favorite series. I love that you share the cupcake recipes at the back of the book.

Thank goodness for that serendipitous rule of threes!!!!

Would that my brain worked cleverly or I'd be over there with a title try.

Jenn McKinlay said...

Thanks so much, Vickie, that's sweet of you to say. Yes, the rule of threes is amazing.