Cooking the Books: Death of an Ice Cream Scooper by Lee Hollis
Hayley’s Kitchen—the namesake Italian restaurant that our heroine, Hayley Powell, recently opened in her small town of Bar Harbor, Maine—is doing excellent business. Even before turning such profits, though, she’d made it part of her mission to spread the financial love to other local enterprises, promoting their businesses as best she could on her menu. This includes Lynette Partridge’s Bar Harbor Ice Cream, which specializes in gourmet concoctions that both Lynette and Hayley’s customers love.
But even as Lynette’s business is taking off, the ice cream maker is starting to worry about her husband, Jamie. Someone has sent her compromising photos of the college professor with one of his students, causing her to fear that her absorption in work has led him to search for affection in someone else’s arms. Knowing of Hayley’s reputation as an investigator—and too embarrassed to confront Jamie herself—she asks Hayley for help in getting to the bottom of the issue.
Hayley is dealing with some family bombshells of her own but always has time for a little light snooping. She’s barely started looking into the matter, however, when the student from the photos is found dead in the back of Lynette’s ice cream truck. As the suspect list grows ever longer, Hayley has to juggle tense personal relationships with getting to the truth of what really happened to the poor young woman who met such an untimely end.
There was a surprising and not at all unwelcome amount of late adolescent angst in this 15th book of the Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mystery series. Hayley finds herself in the dismaying position of having to snoop into the lives of a bunch of 21st-century young adults, and that’s even without getting involved in the romantic hijinks of her two fully grown best friends who’ve just started dating again after the ends of their last disastrous relationships.
This is, overall, a very fun installment of the long-running series, hearkening both to classic American tragedies and to more modern icons of fiction like Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl.
The recipes in every book in this series revolve around a theme, and this one is no different. Death of an Ice Cream Scooper’s collection of food and cocktail recipes is based, unsurprisingly, on ice cream, which long-time readers will know I’ve managed to avoid making in all my six years of writing this column. Never fear, this week I’ve continued that streak by choosing to put together this recipe:
Hayley’s Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Pie
½ tub of Cool Whip
¼ cup peanut butter ice cream
1 pre-made Oreo cookie crust
4 or 5 peanut butter cups, roughly chopped (6 if you’re like me)
½ cup hot fudge ice cream topping
Microwave your hot fudge topping according to the directions and allow to cool while still stirrable.
In a large bowl, mix the ice cream and Cool Whip using an electric mixer until smooth.
Pour the mixture into the Oreo pie crust, and then pour on the chocolate topping and swirl, using a butter knife.
Top with your peanut butter cup pieces. Place into the freezer and freeze at least 6 hours.
When good and frozen, remove from freezer, slice, and dig in!
The process of making this was a little bit of a disaster, and that was entirely my fault. Firstly, I couldn’t find Oreo pie crust at my grocery store, so I decided a graham cracker crust would do (and it did! It was totally fine!). Then, disaster struck with my less-than-well-thought-out decision to slide back into the mixing bowl the bit of filling I’d already made and poured into the crust in order to better incorporate the flavors while making more filling. I don’t know why I didn’t think the entire crust would slide out too, but you can see where it goes from beautifully whole to hastily cobbled back together in the photos.
But that’s the beauty of ice cream pie: it freezes together so nicely and tastes so delicious that you barely even notice any lack in presentation! One thing I will say about this recipe, though, is that I don’t think the measurements for the ice cream mix quite fill up the pie crust—hence why I decided to make more—so be prepared to eyeball what you have and add more Cool Whip and ice cream and possibly peanut butter cups and hot fudge as well.
That all said, this came out very nicely and was absolutely delicious—even to people as indifferent to peanut butter as I am. My family loved this, and I’ll probably have to make it for them again in the future.
Next week, we travel south to stir up a few cocktails while figuring out why a corporate retreat has suddenly turned deadly. Do join me!