When the book opens, Agnes is busy getting ready to host an important wedding at her country home. She’s making Chocolate-Raspberry Cupcake samples for the Bride and more importantly, Mother-of-the-Groom, to taste the next day, when she is rudely interrupted. From this moment on, her quiet little world will never be the same. From Agnes and the Hitman:
Agnes took off her glasses and turned up the heat under the raspberries, which she knew was courting disaster, but it was late and she was tired of playing nice with fruit. “Come on, Joey. I don’t have time for this. I’m behind on my column, I’ve got–”
“And there’s Rhett,” Joey said. “How’s Rhett?”
“What?” Agnes said, thrown off stride. She stopped stirring her berries, which began to bubble, and looked down at her dog, draped over her feet like a moth-eaten brown overcoat, slobbering on the floor as he slept. “Rhett’s fine. Why? What have you heard?”
“He’s a fine healthy-lookin’ dog,” Joey said hastily. “He looked real good in his picture in the paper today.” He paused, his voice straining to be casual. “How come old Rhett was wearing that stupid collar in that picture?”
“Collar?” Agnes frowned at the phone. “It was just some junk jewelry–”
The oven timer buzzed, and she said, “Hold on,” put down the phone, and took the now madly bubbling berries off the heat with one hand. Rhett picked up his head and bayed, and she turned to see what he was upset about.
A guy with a gun stood in the doorway, the bottom half of his face covered with a red bandana.
“I come for your dog,” he said, pointing the gun at Rhett, who was scrambling to his feet, and Agnes said, “No!” and slung the raspberry pan at the guy, the hot syrup arcing out in front of it like napalm and catching him full in the face.
He screamed as the scalding fruit hit him and then dropped his gun to rip the bandana away as Agnes stumbled around the counter to scoop up the pan and Rhett barreled into him, knocking him down so that he hit the back of his head on the marble counter by the wall and knocked off every cupcake she had cooling there before he collapsed into the doorway.
“Goddamn it,” Agnes said breathlessly, standing over him with her pan, her heart pounding.
The guy didn’t move, and Rhett began to hoover up cupcakes at the speed of light.
Here is my version of the cupcakes. They turned out quite good. A nice treat to try again on Valentine’s Day.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1 cup cold water
- 1/2 cup chopped raspberries
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup dry cocoa
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
Grease and flour muffin tins. Cream together oil, butter and sugar. Mix in remaining moist ingredients, one at a time, until well mixed. Sift together dry ingredients. Mix dry mixture into creamy mixture and beat for 2 minutes at high-speed. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full and bake for 20-25 minutes, until they bounce back when pressed lightly.
- 6 oz dark chocolate
- 6 oz heavy cream
Double boiler (I use a metal bowl over a saucepan with about an 1 inch of water)
Place chocolate and cream in top of boiler, bring water in bottom half to a boil, reduce heat to med-high and let chocolate melt, stirring occasionally. When completely melted, remove from heat and stir until cream and chocolate are completely mixed. Let cool and dollop over cooled cupcakes
- 2 cups raspberries
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
Puree raspberries until smooth, add raspberries and sugar to saucepan and heat to a low boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute, reduce heat to medium and stir constantly until thickened, remove from heat and add lemon juice. Let cool and spoon over frosted cupcakes.
Note: While making the raspberry sauce I was not accosted by any strange men breaking into my house, forcing me to use the sauce as napalm. Mores the pity.
I had other ideas in mind on how to start the next section of the Food In Fiction series, but since I found myself reading this book again, I decided might as well start here. Agnes and the Hitman is a partnership between Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer and it’s a hoot and holler as Gram used to say.
Do not be seduced by those big-box come-ons, full of “complete sets” of extraneous cookware. A complete set is whatever you need and maybe all you need is a wok and a hot place to grill your bacon. In a pinch, I can do it all with my heavy nonstick frying pan. Besides the obvious braising, browning, and frying, I can make sauces and stir-fries in it, toast cheese sandwiches and slivered almonds, use the underside to pound cutlets and in a pinch probably swing it to defend my honor. If I could find a man that versatile and dependable, I’d marry him.
Girlfriend, I can relate. And use that frying pan to defend her honor she does. From this opening page I was hooked. So I’ll be sharing some recipes I created based on the food Cranky Agnes cooks for the gang that invades her home to help defend her honor. Starting with Raspberry Chocolate Cupcakes. Until then….