Authors: Cleo Coyle
Step 1—Prep pan:
Line a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing some of the paper to hang over the long ends to create handles (these will allow you to lift the bars out after baking). Lightly coat the paper with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
Step 2—Prep apples:
Peel and cut apples into thin slices and place in a saucepan with lemon juice, water, and brown sugar (and throw in a vanilla bean here if you like). Over medium heat, cook and stir gently for about 15 minutes to soften the apples and caramelize them. Drain excess liquid and set aside to cool. Remove vanilla bean, if using.
Step 3—Create basic batter:
Preheat oven to 325° F. Spoon flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and whisk together. Make a well. Add eggs, oil, milk, sour cream, vanilla, and rum (or rum extract). Whisk until well blended but do not overmix, or you will develop the gluten in the flour and your cake will be tough instead of tender.
Step 4—Create apple layer:
Remove 1½ cups of batter from the mixing bowl and pour into a separate bowl. Whisk in egg yolks (this will help give your apple layer a more custard-like texture). Gently fold the apples into egg batter, pour into prepared pan, and even out the layer.
Step 5—Finish and bake:
Pour the remaining (cake-layer) batter over the top of the apples. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar evenly over the top of cake to help create a crust while baking. Bake about 1 hour (you may need another 15 or so minutes). You’re watching for the top of the cake to turn a golden brown, the center of cake to set, and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out with no wet batter clinging to it. Remove from oven and cool completely. While very warm the bars may not stay together, but once cool, you will be able to slice into squares and serve (with joy!). For a finished look before serving, dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar.
Clare Cosi’s Skillet Lasagna (for Mike)
On the night of the explosion, Clare was craving the comfort food of her childhood, namely her nonna’s hearty lasagna. Without the time (or energy) to make her grandmother’s many-layered casserole, she whipped up this quickie skillet version for herself and Detective Mike Quinn.
Given Quinn’s interest in other kinds of comfort that night, they didn’t actually eat this meal for many hours after it was cooked. No worries. Clare Cosi’s Skillet Lasagna tastes even better as a leftover dish. “Heat and reheat”—good advice for this dinner, as well as Clare and Mike’s weekend-to-weekend relationship.
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup baby bella mushrooms (optional), chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ pound lean ground beef
½ pound ground pork (or chicken)
1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped (you can use a food processor for this)
¼ cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning or a mix of dried rosemary, basil, and oregano
Handful of fresh, Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, chopped
¾ cup ricotta cheese (whole milk will give the best flavor)
½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (whole milk will give the best flavor)
Sprinkling of grated Romano or Parmesan cheese (to taste)
Step 1—Boil lasagna noodles:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Break lasagna noodles into 3-inch pieces and cook according to the package directions. Drain well and set aside.
Step 2—Meat and veg:
Lightly coat a large skillet with olive oil and set over medium heat. Add chopped onion. Cook and stir for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in ground beef and pork, breaking up and cooking until meat is browned and no longer pink, about 5 to 7 minutes. When the meat is cooked, add chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, and Italian seasoning, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 6 minutes. Stir in parsley.
Step 3—Finish with noodles and cheese:
Add in the cooked lasagna noodles and gently stir until heated through, about 5 minutes. Use a spoon to evenly top the mixture with big dollops of ricotta. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella on top. Cover and cook a few more minutes, until everything is heated through. Dish out helpings and garnish with a sprinkling of grated Romano or Parmesan cheese and a bit of parsley on the side. To reheat, add more mozzarella, cover, and melt.
How to Make an Irish Car Bomb
On the night that Mike Quinn took Clare to visit the NYPD Bomb Squad, he told her the story of the first time he worked with the squad’s lieutenant, Dennis DeFasio. At the close of the case, DeFasio and his crew took Quinn to a pub for a night of Irish Car Bombs (the kind you drink).
The “Irish” refers to the traditional ingredients: Guinness Stout, Baileys Irish Cream, and Jameson Irish Whiskey. As for the bomb, this is a “bomb shot” drink like the notorious Boilermaker. You must chug it immediately or the Baileys Irish Cream will curdle.
Don’t expect to find this beverage in a Dublin pub; this is an American concoction. (An interesting note: the coffee liqueur Kahlúa was once part of the original recipe, but is now considered optional. When Clare’s homemade Kahlúa (page 378) is involved, however, Quinn goes old school.)
Makes one heck of an explosive serving
½ ounce Irish cream (Baileys)
¼ ounce Irish whiskey (Jameson)
½ pint Irish stout (Guinness)
Pour the Irish cream into a shot glass, then carefully pour the whiskey on top—go slowly and it should float. Pour the Irish stout into a tall beer glass and drop the shot glass into it. Drink immediately, drain the glass, and make sure someone in your group is a designated driver (or you have cab fare home).
Baileys Irish Cream and Caramel-Nut Fudge
Yes, this is the very buttery caramel fudge (with an Irish cream kick) that Clare used to bribe NYPD Bomb Squad Lieutenant DeFasio and his crew. That night, she made it in an 8-inch-square pan and cut it into bite-sized pieces for sharing. If you don’t expect to consume it in one night, however, Clare suggests making the fudge in a loaf pan. Then you can remove the fudge block, wrap it in plastic, and store it in the fridge. Over the course of many evenings, you can take out the block, cut off slices to enjoy with coffee, and rewrap it to keep fresh for the next time you’d like a wee nip of edible joy.
cup evaporated milk
¼ cup Baileys Irish Cream
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup, which is flavored corn syrup)
1½ cups white chocolate chips (or 9 ounces of white chocolate discs)
¾ cup plus
cup chopped, toasted walnuts
Step 1—Prep pan:
Use an 8-inch-square pan or an 8½ x 4½-inch loaf pan. Line the pan completely with parchment paper and allow the paper to extend beyond at least 2 sides to create a sling with handles. You’ll use these to easily lift the fudge from the pan.
Step 2—Bring to a boil:
Combine evaporated milk, sugars, butter, and salt in a large saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir occasionally to prevent burning. When the mixture comes to a full, rolling boil, set the timer for 5 minutes and stir constantly.
Step 3—Stir in final ingredients:
Pour in the mini marshmallows and stir rapidly to melt. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, Baileys Irish Cream, and maple syrup. Add the white chocolate chips and stir until melted. Fold in ¾ cup chopped walnuts.
Step 4—Pour, garnish, and chill:
Pour fudge mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining
cup chopped walnuts across the top to decorate. Allow to cool completely at room temperature..
Do not cover the top of the pan with plastic wrap until the fudge has completely cooled; otherwise, steam will condense and your fudge will become soggy. Once the fudge loaf is cool, loosely cover the top of the pan with plastic wrap or foil and place the pan in the fridge, chilling until firm. Remove pan from fridge and lift the fudge out of the pan using the parchment-paper handles. Slice to enjoy. To store, rewrap the fudge tightly in plastic and place back in the fridge.
BAILEYS BUYING NOTE:
If you’re not a big drinker, simply buy 2 mini-bar bottles of Baileys. Inexpensive, single-serving bottles come in sizes of 50 milliliters, and 2 bottles will allow you to measure out the amount needed for this recipe.
Baileys Irish (Butter) Cream Frosting
This is one of Clare Cosi’s favorite go-to frostings when she’s making no-frills cupcakes for Mike. The frosting brings the party—and the flavor.
To get Clare’s Irish Cream Poke Cake recipe, a fantastic (and easy) “wow” of a party cake that will sit beautifully beneath this frosting, drop by author Cleo Coyle’s online coffeehouse at CoffeehouseMystery.com.
Makes about 2 cups (amazing!) icing, enough to frost a 2-layer cake or 24 cupcakes
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream