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Drop-Dead Yummy


Don't bother skipping to the end of "Desserticide," a book by a group of mystery writers called Sisters in Crime.

There's no surprise twist to be revealed. The whole book is endings--sweet ones, not the grisly stuff that mystery writers usually deal in. The full title tells it all: "Desserticide: aka Desserts Worth Dying For."

"No one has dropped dead from any of the recipes," reassures Charlene Gallagher of Sisters in Crime's Los Angeles chapter, which assembled the book. They are, however, quite dangerous in the caloric sense.

And think of the possibilities for Halloween. Who'd want candied apples when they could have Hack and Chop Layer Cake, Terror-Misu or Fatally Fudge Brownies?

Even brunch turns deadly with Blood and Gore Streusel Coffeecake, which oozes with blood (raspberry pie filling) and innards (sliced peaches).

Lots of cookbooks accompany recipes with photographs. This one pairs them with crime techniques, which are the tools of a mystery writer's trade. You learn, for example, how to feign amnesia or insanity to avoid a murder rap and how to beat a lie detector test.

"The ability to lie effectively is of inestimable value to anyone guilty of desserticide," notes the book, warning that such nervous mannerisms as licking lips may give the perpetrator away.

It's all tongue in cheek, right down to the quotes from celebrities praising the book. (Supposedly from Sherlock Holmes: "It's elementary, my dear Watson--this is a killer cookbook.")

Nevertheless, a disclaimer shields those responsible for "Desserticide" from liability for "any injuries or losses incurred or resulting from use of the information and recipes in this book."

Not to worry. This book isn't about loss. It's about gain--the inevitable result of overindulging in its contents.

To order, send a check for $10, which includes postage, to Desserticide, P.O. Box 11128, Torrance, CA 90510. Make checks payable to Sisters in Crime/LA.


1 (1-pound 2 1/4-ounce) package chocolate cake mix with pudding

1/2 cup cocoa powder


1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon brandy

2 tablespoons butter

1 (12-ounce) bag frozen raspberries

2 teaspoons water

Chocolate curls, optional

Prepare and bake cake according to package directions, using either 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pans. When done, cool cakes on racks.

While cake is cooling, cook cocoa, 1 1/2 cups sugar, salt and milk in saucepan, stirring often, over low heat until almost thick. Add brandy and butter and beat until stiff.

In another saucepan, cook raspberries, 1/2 cup sugar and water over low heat until raspberries break up, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and puree. Strain if desired. Return to saucepan and reheat, adding additional 1 tablespoon sugar, until sauce thickens. Cool.

Ice top of 1 cake layer with cocoa frosting, then stack unfrosted layer on top. Ice sides and top with remaining frosting. Allow frosting to set. Spoon raspberry sauce over cake and onto serving plate. Garnish with chocolate curls.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Each of 8 servings contains about:

414 calories; 786 mg sodium; 9 mg cholesterol; 10 grams fat; 81 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 1.24 grams fiber.

* Ivette Helfend platter from Neiman Marcus.

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