Bethany Blake lives in a small, quaint town in Pennsylvania with her husband and three daughters. When she's not writing or riding horses, she's wrangling a menagerie of furry family members that includes a nervous pit bull, a fearsome feline, a blind goldfish, and an attack cardinal named Robert. Like Daphne Templeton, the heroine of her Lucky Paws Mysteries, Bethany holds a Ph.D. and operates a pet sitting business called Barkley's Premium Pet Care. Learn more about Bethany and her books at her website.
Daphne Templeton, the amateur sleuth in my Lucky Paws Pet Sitting Mystery series, has a soft spot for misfits and mongrels. In the first book, Death by Chocolate Lab, Daphne’s fostering a one-ear Chihuahua with a severe overbite and a dubious pedigree, and she’s totally smitten.
Today, in that same spirit, I present you with “mupcakes.”
“What’s that?” you ask – perhaps also thinking, “That does NOT sound tasty!”
But trust me, once you’ve had a mupcake – a hybrid cupcake/muffin – you will rush to adopt this recipe as your own.
I found the base recipe, for blueberry muffins, ages ago on the Internet. The origins are long lost, although I often make the blueberry version. However, a few months ago I had a craving for chocolate and strawberries. Since strawberries aren’t exactly in season in Pennsylvania, I dug into my freezer and tried to come up with a creative way to use last year’s leftovers. My solution: add chocolate and strawberries to the muffin recipe. The result was something sweeter than a regular muffin, but not exactly a cupcake. A new name was needed. Not that there was much time for naming. My kids ate the whole batch in about an hour!
Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry “Mupcakes”
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup milk
2 cups strawberries
1 (heaping) cup chocolate chips.
Heat your oven to 375 degrees and grease 18 regular-sized muffin cups - or 36 mini-muffin cups. (These make super cute minis!) You can also use cupcake liners.
Using a hand mixer, mix the butter until it's creamy. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Beat in the vanilla, baking powder and salt. Then get a spoon and fold in half the milk and half the flour. Repeat.
Chop the berries and drain if they're soggy. Add about a tablespoon of flour and toss to coat. This will keep them from sinking when they bake.
Carefully fold in the berries and chocolate chips, being as gentle as possible.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes, until they're golden, then try to resist the temptation to eat them before they cool. The strawberry flavor intensifies when they reach room temperature. The perfect moment is when the chips are still gooey, but the berries aren't hot.
Death by Chocolate Lab
Pet sitter Daphne Templeton has a soft spot for every stray and misfit who wanders into the quaint, lakeside village of Sylvan Creek. But even Daphne doesn’t like arrogant, womanizing Steve Beamus, the controversial owner of Blue Ribbon K-9 Academy. When Steve turns up dead during a dog agility trial, Daphne can think of a long list of people with motives for homicide, and so can the police. Unfortunately, at the top of the list is Daphne’s sister, Piper—Steve’s latest wronged girlfriend. Certain that Piper is innocent, in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary, Daphne sets out to clear her sister’s name—and find Axis, Steve’s prize-winning chocolate Labrador, who went missing the night of Steve’s death.
Aided by Socrates, her taciturn basset hound, and a hyperactive one-eared Chihuahua named Artie, Daphne quickly runs afoul of Detective Jonathan Black, a handsome and enigmatic newcomer to town, who has no appreciation for Daphne’s unorthodox sleuthing. Can a free-spirited pet sitter, armed only with a Ph.D. in Philosophy and her two incompatible dogs, find the real killer before she becomes the next victim?