Gayle Trent has two recipes that honor the King. Her latest novel Killer Sweet Tooth takes place at an Elvis Impersonators' Convention. First there's a fabulous recipe from her Great Aunt Pat Tolbert Hurley for Banana Pudding. And, then there's her recipe for White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes.
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I write a cake decorating series for Simon & Schuster’s Gallery imprint. The series originated with Bell Bridge Books, a small press owned and operated by a group of authors, including Deborah Smith and Debra Dixon. The first two books, MURDER TAKES THE CAKE and DEAD PAN were published in trade paperback and ebook form by Bell Bridge Books. After a particularly successful holiday promotion, MURDER TAKES THE CAKE caught the attention of my current agent, Robert Gottlieb, who sold the reprint rights to the book. Since then, Gallery has published the third book in the cake decorating series, KILLER SWEET TOOTH, and has contracted for book four, BATTERED TO DEATH.
The series centers around Daphne Martin who returns to her hometown to start a cake decorating business after divorcing her abusive husband. Her childhood sweetheart is still living in the town, and he has never married, so there’s a spark there.
In MURDER TAKES THE CAKE, Daphne makes her first cake delivery to a paying customer only to find the customer dead. Naturally, suspicions turn to recently returned Virginia native and cake decorator Daphne. But all she did was deliver a spice cake with cream cheese frosting–and discover Yodel’s dead body. Now, Daphne must get her hands dirty to help solve the murder and clear her good name before things get any worse. But the small town is brimming with people who had good reason to kill Yodel–and Daphne’s entire family is among them.
In the second book, DEAD PAN, several people become sick at Brea Ridge Pharmaceuticals’ annual holiday party for its employees, and one–Fred Duncan–dies. Fred’s mother insists on Daphne’s help in learning why Fred died; and since none of the food has yet been exonerated, Daphne feels compelled to find out what made everyone so ill.
In the latest book, KILLER SWEET TOOTH, an Elvis impersonator has Brea Ridge residents “all shook up.” But he—and the rest of the convention of Elvis impersonators—aren’t bothering Daphne half as much as the fact that the Brea Ridge police found her wielding an oversized plastic toothbrush over a dentist’s dead body.
Naturally, in KILLER SWEET TOOTH, there are plenty of Elvis Presley references, including his legendary love for peanut butter and bananas. So, I had my great-aunt Pat Hurley Tolbert pass along her mother’s recipe for banana pudding. It’s an old-fashioned Southern recipe that I think you will enjoy.
Pat Tolbert’s Banana Pudding
3 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
dash of salt
3 eggs, separated
3 cups milk (can use evaporated milk)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 12-ounce box of vanilla wafers
6 medium bananas
Combine flour, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, and salt in heavy saucepan.
Beat egg yolks and milk, mixing well.
Stir in dry ingredients.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until smooth and thickened.
Remove from heat and add one teaspoon vanilla.
Let pudding cool some before putting together.
Layer about 1/3 of vanilla wafers in the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch (3-quart) baking dish.
Slice 2 bananas over them and pour 1/3 of custard over; continue to layer, repeat twice.
Beat egg whites until foamy (should be at room temperature).
Gradually add remaining sugar and beat to stiff peaks.
Add 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Spread meringue over custard, sealing to edge of dish.
Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes.
These cupcakes were in the display case at Chocolate World in Hershey. They were for sale, but we had a lot of ground to cover, so I did not indulge. But do you see those tan ones on the bottom row right there in the middle? They were white chocolate peanut butter cupcakes, each had a white chocolate Reese's cup on top, and they sang their siren song to me. I'm still hearing it! So, I came home and looked for a comparable recipe.
White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes
1 18.25oz French Vanilla Cake Mix
1/3 Cup Oil
1 1/3 Cup Water
2/3 Cup Chunky/Crunchy Peanut Butter
3 Large Eggs
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/3 Cup Ghirardelli’s Ground White Chocolate (Powder)
24 Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Minis
16 oz liquid Pastry Pride or Rich’s Buttercreme
Ghirardelli’s Ground White Chocolate
1 tsp Chocolate flavoring
12 Reese's White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (Regular size)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees w/rack in middle of oven.
Mix together all ingredients on low for 30 seconds. Scrape bowl down. Mix at medium for 2 minutes. Line cupcake pan with 24 paper liners. Fill each cupcake 1/4 of the way full. Place a mini Reeses PB cup in each cupcake ensuring you do not push it all the way down to the bottom. Fill remaining cupcake so that it is 2/3-3/4 of the way full and the PB cup is covered completely. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top springs/bounces back when touched…should be a light golden color. Remove and place pan on cooling rack for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, take each cupcake out and let cool.
For the icing, I used 1lb of liquid Pastry Pride. Make sure it is completely thawed. Put it in your mixer and mix at medium speed until it starts to form medium size peaks. I cannot tell you how much white chocolate i used as I just poured it in and tasted as I went. You can add as little or as much as you want. I also added 1 tsp of chocolate flavoring…enough to add a tiny bit of flavor, but not so much to change the color.
I piped the frosting onto the cupcakes and cut each White Choc Reese’s PB Cup in half and place it on top the frosting, PB side down and ridged edge facing top. You can also use White Chocolate Ganache/Buttercream. Do not need to refrigerate.