Delicious Horror: Jacqueline West

I have a wonderful submission for Delicious Horror today that I am so excited to share with you all! Author Jacqueline West has paired Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia with a very tempting treat. I read Mexican Gothic a few months ago and was completely immersed in the rich storytelling, so I was thrilled to see Jacqueline’s pairing. Enjoy!

Jacqueline West is the author of the New York Times-bestselling middle grade series The Books of Elsewhere, the Schneider Family Honor Book The Collectors, and several other middle grade and young adult novels of the dark and twisty variety. Her most recent book, the YA horror novel Last Things, was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Awards and was selected for the Bram Stoker Awards preliminary ballot, and her next book, the MG ghost story Long Lost, is forthcoming from Greenwillow/HarperCollins in May 2021. Jacqueline’s poetry and short fiction for adult readers has appeared in Mythic Delirium, Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit, Liminality, Mirror Dance, and Star*Line. Her first full-length poetry collection, Candle and Pins: Poems on Superstitions was published by Alban Lake in 2018. Jacqueline lives with her family in Red Wing, Minnesota.  

Find Jacqueline at or on Instagram @jacqueline.west.writes and Twitter @JacquelineMWest

Tell us what horror book you chose to highlight and why it’s a favorite of yours: 

I just read—and loved—Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s latest novel, Mexican Gothic. Its imagery has been fixed in my brain ever since: Foggy forests, private cemeteries, molding wallpaper, crumbling ancestral homes filled with horrifying family secrets. The book is gothic in all the classic ways, but it’s infused so craftily with elements that make it its own, like the rural Mexican setting, the effects of colonialism, the ways that some husbands and fathers turn their families into their own brutal little kingdoms. And the protagonist, Noemi Taboada, is GREAT. She’s not the naïve and innocent Mrs. DeWinter-ish gothic heroine, and she’s not the reserved and unassuming Jane Eyre type, either. She’s completely herself.  

What did you decide to make to pair with the book, and what from the book inspired your delicious treat? 

Chocolate Socialite Cake with Meringue Mushrooms felt like the perfect fit. Mold and fungus are an important element of Mexican Gothic’s setting. Inside the Doyle mansion, mold covers the walls and infuses the air, and outside, mushrooms sprout from the graves of the family cemetery. The fungus is also a symbol for the family at the heart of the story: this vast system of interconnected organisms that feed on death and decay. So there had to be meringue mushrooms. And bittersweet Chocolate Socialite Cake seemed right for Noemi, a wealthy party girl from Mexico City who’s a lot deeper and stronger than she’s given credit for. Plus, the two recipes fit together with weird perfection—the cake uses egg yolks, and the meringue uses egg whites, so there’s a sort of mushroomy symbiosis happening. More symbolism!  

Can you share the recipe or a link to the recipe? 

I found the cake recipe in a magazine forever ago, and I can’t remember the source’s name, but she was some wealthy and fashionable socialite who mentioned having served this to Andy Warhol. In my notebook, I wrote it down as “Chocolate Socialite Cake.” And the meringue mushrooms come from Martha Stewart. (You can add a few drops of food coloring along with the vanilla flavor, if you want your mushrooms tinted an eerie green or yellow.)

Chocolate Socialite Cake:
2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the pan
4 bars (3.5 oz. each) of good quality bittersweet or dark chocolate, broken into pieces (I’ve used Lindt and Ghirardelli; Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips work too)
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour 

Preheat oven to 350.
Butter a 9-inch round pan.
Melt butter and chocolate together in a heat-safe bowl over a pan of hot water, or melt in short increments in the microwave, stirring frequently. Once chocolate is smooth, set aside.
In another bowl, with an electric mixer, beat eggs and egg yolks until frothy. At medium speed, beat in sugar until creamy. Beat in flour.
Fold flour mixture into chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula until blended. Spread in buttered pan.
Bake until set in the center, roughly 40 minutes. Let cool.
Top with meringue mushrooms and/or berries and whipped cream, and serve on a tarnished silver platter. 

Easy Meringue Mushrooms: 

Thank you so much Jacqueline for this excellent post! If you feel inspired, find out how to submit a Delicious Horror post of your own here!

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