Grandma's Killer Chocolate Cake from Author James Patterson

Mystery Writers of America cookbook excerpt

Here's a riddle: what kind of cakes do mystery writers like?

Happily, the new book The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook: Wickedly Good Meals and Desserts to Die For is ready and willing to answer this question in the most delicious way. It is a collection of recipes culled from famous mystery writers, and it makes for mighty sweet eating. 

When choosing an excerpt recipe to feature here, my eye was drawn right away to "Grandma’s Killer Chocolate Cake: via mystery writer James Patterson. I hope you'll enjoy!

Grandma's Killer Chocolate Cake

Recipe headnote:

Here’s one “killer” Alex Cross always loves to catch—Grandma’s Killer Cake! A special family recipe dating from the 1940s, this decadent cake seems to get better with age; it is tastier on day two. And you need to be a good detective around the house after it has been made, sitting there in its glass­domed cake stand, staring back at you with deadly temptation, because a piece seems to mysteriously disappear every time I go into the kitchen. Not to be caught red­handed, so looms the “Killer Cake Killer”!



  • 2∕3 cup butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 11∕3 cups buttermilk
  • 11∕3 teaspoons baking soda dissolved in 2 ∕ 5 cup hot water 31∕2 squares bitter chocolate, melted gently
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 1∕2 cup butter
  • 3 squares bitter chocolate
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2∕3 cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs.

2. Blend in flour and buttermilk in alternating additions, starting and ending with the flour. Add baking soda mixture, followed by chocolate and vanilla extract.

3. Pour batter into one 9­by­12­inch pan or two round 9­inch springform pans. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.

4. Combine all frosting ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a full boil, and boil for 2 minutes. Let cool. You can put saucepan on ice if necessary to cool quickly.

5. Remove the cake from the pan, frost, and serve.

About the author: James Patterson has sold 300 million books worldwide, including the Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, Women’s Murder Club, Maximum Ride, and Middle School series. He supports getting kids reading through scholarship, Book Bucks programs, book donations, and his website, He lives in Palm Beach with his wife, Sue, and his son, Jack.

Excerpted from The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook: Wickedly Good Meals and Desserts to Die For edited by Kate White. Reprinted with permission from Quirk Books.