Friday, May 14, 2010

Guest Blogger Mystery Author Cleo Coyle: Little Chocolate Clouds

Mystery Author Cleo Coyle Guest blogs today. I know you'll find her blog, recipe and photos fabulous! I love when my two worlds of Mystery and Chocolate cross. Wonder if I should also post this on Mystery Fanfare, too? Thanks, Cleo, for Guest Blogging. Delicious!

A former journalist, Cleo Coyle is the pseudonym for a multi-published author and New York Times bestselling media tie-in writer. In collaboration with her husband, Cleo pens two popular mystery series for Penguin. The Coffeehouse Mysteries are a series of light, amateur sleuth culinary mysteries set in a Greenwich Village coffeehouse, the first of which, On What Grounds, is now in its fifteenth printing. The ninth book in the series, Roast Mortem, will be out this summer. Under the name Alice Kimberly, Cleo also writes the Haunted Bookshop Mysteries. The series’ sixth title, The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller, will be published next year. You can find out more at Cleo’s virtual coffeehouse:

Little Chocolate Clouds by Cleo Coyle

Chocolate and coffee are a classic pairing, aren’t they? As a couple, they have so much in common, too—both are grown in tropical climes; both are harvested from seeds; both need to be roasted and processed with culinary care. Then, of course, there’s that addiction thing.

Am I a chocoholic? Check. (That’s why I follow Janet’s blog :-)) Am I a coffee freak? Oh, yeah. Given the setting of my Coffeehouse Mysteries that’s pretty much a given. In fact, “I had a dream there were clouds in my coffee…”

One of songwriter Carly Simon’s many inspired line was my inspiration for a recent chocolate-and-coffee recipe post at Mystery Lovers Kitchen, where I blog once a week with five of my fellow culinary mystery writers.

My simple cocoa meringues are easy to whip up and bake. They are bursting with chocolate flavor, yet they’re still light, with the added bonus of protein (from the egg whites). You can even float one in a fresh cup of joe or espresso, where it will melt right into the hot liquid, mimicking a mocha drink.

If you’re looking for a recommendation on a good coffee to sip with these little cocoa clouds, I have many at my official website but the coffee that is closest to my heart is Kafe Lespwa, which means “Coffee of Hope” in Creole.

Grown by the subsistence farmers of Beredères, Haiti, this low-acid coffee is velvety smooth, yet lively, rich, and complex with a full-bodied mouthfeel. It even has noticeable hints of chocolate in its flavor profile.

Why is it close to my heart? The rural area where this coffee is grown has seen a large influx of refugees from the catastrophic earthquake that struck near Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince earlier this year, leaving tens of thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless. To help these coffee farmers, who are helping and housing the displaced earthquake victims, I am absolutely delighted to feature this coffee on my website all summer long. Believe me, it’s no sacrifice. Kafe Lespwa is delicious.

I am also running a weekly free coffee drawing all summer. Every Monday, I will give a 12-ounce package of Kafe Lespwa to a random subscriber of my e-newsletter. The newsletter is free and my next one will include a tasty recipe for grilling season and an exclusive excerpt for my latest Coffeehouse Mystery, Roast Mortem, publishing this summer.

To sign up for the weekly drawings and newsletter, simply send a “Sign me up” e-mail to

Finally, thank you to Janet for her very kind offer to visit with you today. I hope you will enjoy the “Coffee of Hope”…and my Little Chocolate Clouds.

Little Chocolate Clouds by Cleo Coyle

Makes about 36 meringues
For a printable version of this recipe (PDF format) click HERE.

4 egg whites (room temperature)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar (to stabilize egg whites)
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
Optional toppings: chocolate sprinkles, chocolate chips, toasted coconut, finely chopped nuts


Step 1 – Before You Begin: First preheat the oven to 300° F. Some tips to help you get the best results here: Start with a mixing bowl that is glass, metal, or ceramic. The bowl must be free of grease for your egg whites to whip up properly. (Grease clings to plastic bowls, which is why you should not use plastic.) Also, for best results, your egg whites should be room temperature. I simply set my cold eggs in a bowl of warm tap water for 2 to 3 minutes before cracking.

Step 2 – Whip Egg Whites: Place egg whites, cream of tartar, vanilla, and salt into bowl. Using an electric mixer or handheld whisk, start to whip the whites. When you see soft peaks begin to form (see photo), continue beating while slowly sprinkling in the sugar. When egg whites have become stiff and glossy (see photo), stop whipping. Sift the cocoa over the egg whites and gently fold into the mix. The whites will deflate a little, but that’s okay.

Step 3 – Form Little Chocolate Clouds: Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Make rustic little chocolate clouds by dropping batter in heaping teaspoons onto the paper. As a fun option, try topping some with chocolate sprinkles and others with finely chopped nuts, toasted coconut, or a few chocolate chips.
 Step 4 – Bake in your preheated (300° F.) oven for 25 to 35 minutes. Meringues should be dry and somewhat firm on the outside (not hard just firm) and still gooey in the center. Remove from oven and carefully slide the parchment paper off the hot pan and onto a rack to cool. Note: Warm meringues will stick to the parchment paper. But as they cool, they will harden. Then you can easily lift them free. After they are completely cooled, store them as you would cookies, in an airtight container.

For more recipe ideas or to find out more about the books in my Coffeehouse Mystery series, drop by my virtual coffeehouse at and…

Eat with joy!


Kafe Lepswa photo courtesy of

All other photos copyright © Alice Alfonsi who writes as Cleo Coyle in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini.


Jenny said...

Yum...I've never made meringues, and these look so much better than the store-bought ones. I can't wait to whip up my own chocolate clouds.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Oh, these pictures just make me want to eat my monitor. SO yummy, Cleo. And you're right--coffee and chocolate make the perfect combination. In fact...I might have to have some now!

Cleo Coyle said...

Replying to -

Jenny - Hey, there, nice to *virtually* meet you. I just checked out your Writing Bug Blog and love it. I hope you'll also love my Little Chocolate Clouds. They're decadently gooey in the middle and very chocolaty -- and we know "very chocolaty" is always a good thing :)

Mystery Lovers' Kitchen

Cleo Coyle said...

Reply to --

Elizabeth - LOL on eating your monitor! Sometimes when I stop by Janet's blog, I have to hold myself back from licking the screen! Thanks for dropping by on your chocolate-and-coffee break. Have a sweet day.

Mystery Lovers' Kitchen

Julie Hyzy said...

This is such a fun recipe, and I think I have everything in my house to make these today. Hope so, because I really need some chocolate this afternoon and we're out! Thanks for this great post, Cleo. And thanks, Janet, for this wonderful site! Love your tweets, btw!


Janet Rudolph said...

Julie, They are great and so simple to make.

Janet Rudolph said...

Thanks, Cleo, for a great Guest Blog

Cleo Coyle said...

Reply to -

Julie - I like to think your Chef Ollie would serve these little clouds in the White House Rose Garden :) Also must say that I'm really looking forward to reading GRACE UNDER PRESSURE. Cheers and thanks for dropping by.

Mystery Lovers' Kitchen

Cleo Coyle said...

Reply to -

Janet - thank you so much for letting me share the chocolate love today :)

Mystery Lovers' Kitchen

Janet Rudolph said...

Reply to Cleo:

My pleasure! I love your note to Julie. I'm looking forward to reading Grace Under Pressure, too. Julie will be Guest Blogging later this month. Looking forward to it.

Mason Canyon said...

These Little Chocolate Clouds look so good. Any thing chocolate is always good and top that with a great cup of coffee, you have a winner.

Thoughts in Progress

Cleo Coyle said...

Reply to -

Mason - Oh, yes! Give me a hot, fresh pot of French roast and a piece of Jacques Torres bark the size of a coffee table and I'll die happy. (Or...I could poison it and start the next plot of my Coffeehouse Mystery. :-) Just kidding. Thanks so much for dropping by.


Deb Carr said...

If one has to "blow the diet", these gems are worth it! Thanks to Janet for sharing, and for introducing me to Cleo (and her website)! I am definitely going to buy her books next week!

Janet Rudolph said...

You'll love the Chocolate clouds and Cleo's books!