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Monday, March 28, 2016


Ann Myers loves cooking, crafts, and cozy mysteries. Talk about an author who’s perfect for Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers! Ann lives with her husband and extra-large housecat in southern Colorado but feels most at home in Santa Fe. Learn more about her and her books (and find a few more recipes) at her website.

As I write this, it’s my grandmother’s 96th birthday, and I’m thinking of her and one of her signature dishes, lemon chiffon pudding. It’s a shape-shifting dessert, transforming in the oven into a creamy lemon pudding on the bottom and a fluffy soufflé on top. My grandfather used to say he married my grandmother for her lemon chiffon. Of course it was the beautiful, kind, witty woman who won his heart, but the pudding is still legendary in my family, a dessert made for wooing.

In Cinco de Mayhem (book 2 of the Santa Fe Café Mysteries) that dessert is “magic” chocoflan, seemingly impossible layers of chocolate cake, flan, and caramel baked up in a Bundt pan. Café chef and amateur sleuth Rita Lafitte isn’t looking for a proposal-producing pudding, though. For her upcoming home-cooked dinner date with hunky lawyer Jake Strong, she wants a dessert that says, “Let’s take our time.” Her flirtatious octogenarian friend Flori, on the other hand, thinks Rita can’t go wrong with chocoflan. I have to agree. It’s a truly magical dessert!

Rita also plans to honor the history of Cinco de Mayo with some French-inspired dishes. Here, I’m adding a recipe for another Cinco de Mayo favorite, margaritas, only in pie form (because what isn’t better as pie?) This margarita-meringue pie hits all the main margarita tastes and is perfect for spring: tart lime, smoky tequila (optional since there are toasted flavors in the meringue, too) and a salty-sweet pretzel crust. It also reminds me a little of my grandmother’s lemon chiffon. Let me know if you make it and get any proposals, or if you have a legendary dish in your family. 

Margarita Meringue Pie

1¼ c finely ground salted hard pretzels
3 T sugar
7 T butter, melted

1 T finely grated lime zest
4 large egg yolks (reserve the egg whites for the meringue)
1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c fresh lime juice (from about 2 large limes or more if smaller)
1–2 T tequila (more or less to taste, or none at all)

Meringue Topping
4 egg whites
¼ t cream of tartar
6 T sugar
½ t vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9-inch pie pan with non-stick baking spray.
Prepare the crust: Crush the pretzels until very fine (whirling in a food processor works well, or place in a plastic bag, cover with a towel, and take out some stress by striking with a rolling pin). Mix in the sugar and melted butter. Press the crust mixture into the prepared pan using the back of a spoon or measuring cup. Bake for ~9 minutes until the crust is firm.

Prepare the filling: Whisk the condensed milk and egg yolks in a bowl. Add lime zest, lime juice, and tequila (if using). Pour into the prepared pie shell. Note: the lime mixture will come only halfway up the pie shell. You’ll fill the rest of the space later with meringue. Bake the pie for approximately 20 minutes. Set on a rack to cool slightly. Keep the oven on at 350°F.

Prepare the meringue: In a clean, dry bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, vanilla, and pinch of salt and beat until the sugar is dissolved and stiff, glossy peaks form. Spoon the meringue over the pie and bake for 10 to 14 minutes until the peaks are set and slightly golden. Serve warm or chilled or with a margarita!

Cinco de Mayhem
Tres Amigas Café chef Rita Lafitte is busy baking up green chile soufflés and chocolate-flan cake for Cinco de Mayo. If only her friend Linda, the daughter of Rita’s octogenarian boss Flori, could get into the festive spirit. Linda’s cart, Tía Tamales, is losing business to Crepe Empire, the hottest food cart in Santa Fe. Napoleon, Crepe Empire’s owner, is a pompous, celebrity chef who wants to squeeze out the competition. But when Linda gets into a heated argument with Napoleon and his corpse is later found stabbed and pinned beneath the wheels of her tamale cart, she becomes the number-one suspect.

Determined to prove Linda’s innocence, Rita investigates. From Napoleon’s disgruntled former employees to a shady health inspector, the list of suspects is longer than Flori’s strings of dried chile peppers. And when another corpse surfaces, Rita must scramble to find an elusive killer with an appetite for murder…

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JaneB said...

Yum! That pie looks delicious! I'm going to add the recipe to my list of favorites.

And also, I just bought two copies of Ann's latest book, "Cinco de Mayhem." Can't wait to read the further adventures of Rita and Flori, the amateur sleuths of Santa Fe, NM.

Ann Myers said...

Thanks, JaneB! Hope you enjoy the pie and Cinco!

Ellen Byron said...

Oh, I SO want to eat this Right. NOW!

Ann Myers said...

Wish I could send you some electronically, Ellen (and that I had an excuse to make myself more pie). :)

Angela Adams said...

Yummy! Thanks for the recipe.

Ann Myers said...

Hope you enjoy it, Angela! I really like the pretzel crust and imagine it would be good with other pie fillings too, like peanut butter or chocolate.