Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cozy Mystery Blog Tour: Author Guest Post, Review & Giveaway: Five-Alarm Fudge (Fudge Shop #3) by Christine DeSmet

In the newest Fudge Shop Mystery from the national bestselling author of Hot Fudge Frame-Up, Ava Oosterling is after a recipe to kill for...

It’s autumn in Fishers’ Harbor, Wisconsin, and fudge shop owner Ava Oosterling is busy preparing for the harvest festival and a visit from some royal relatives who live in Belgium. According to Ava’s grandpa, a famous divinity fudge recipe from the 1860s is hidden somewhere in a local historical church—a treat fit for a prince.

But when a fire in the church reveals the body of a murdered man, it looks like someone is willing to go to any length to possess the valuable secret to the divinity fudge. As Ava searches for the killer—and the recipe—she could use a little divine intervention, because she may have bitten off more than she can chew. 

Introducing the Fudge Shop Mystery series (and a yummy, pretty recipe) 
by Christine DeSmet

Thank you, Marie, for having me as a guest. 

In the Fudge Shop Mystery series, Ava Oosterling and her Grandpa Gil operate Oosterlings' Live Bait, Bobbers & Belgian Fudge & Beer on a harbor in Door County, Wisconsin, known as the "Cape Cod of the Midwest." 

In the new Five-Alarm Fudge, Book 3 of the Fudge Shop Mystery series, Ava and her Grandpa Gil are again mixed up in a fun fudge felony - this time involving romance, royal relatives, and revenge. 

When a visiting European prince asks Ava Oosterling to unearth a priceless, 1800s divinity fudge recipe, the request fans the flames of foul play, with murder marring Ava's Cinderella dreams. 

Ava's signature fudge is "Cinderella Pink Fairy Tale Fudge," a cherry-vanilla flavor made from Door County's famous cherries. Each book features two or three fudge recipes. In Five-Alrm Fudge, a divine divinity recipe is important to a prince. 

In the story, Grandpa took it upon himself to invite the prince of Belgium to visit. Grandpa insists the prince is a shirt-tail relation but far enough removed by ancestors to qualify as marriage material for Ava. 

Ava is beside herself with Grandpa. She's in the midst of a rekindled romance with her ex, Dillon Rivers, who is refurbishing the Blue Herron Inn in order for Ava to take it over. In the meantime, Ava lives in a rundown rental cabin with an ever-present field mouse. 

Grandpa has also promised the prince that Ava will find a long, lost divinity fudge recipe supposedly hidden in a local historical church by a Belgian nun during an 1871 fire. 

The irony of being surrounded by miles and miles of water in this peninsular county is that on October 8, 1871, the very real Great Fire (also known as the Peshtigo Fire) happened - taking an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 lives in this region. This event occurred the same days as the famous Chicago fire that took about 300 lives. 

This novel delves into a lot of real history of the region. Did you know that this area is home to the only church-sanctioned Marian sighting in the United States? You'll learn about the real Sister Adele Brise, who hid in a wood church and was spared in the Great Fire. Prior to that event, she reported being visited by Mary, the mother of Jesus. Today, travelers from across the United States stop at the shrine of Champion, Wis., on their way to Door County. 

Just north of there, in Namur, Wis., Grandpa Gil feels sure that the traveling, teaching nun must have hidden an early version of a divinity fudge recipe in the brick church, thus protecting the special recipe from fires. 

Ava scours the local church for the recipe, but instead finds a dead body, a fire, and the start of a game of hide-and-seek with an arsonist out to do in Ava before she can try on the glass slipper. 

Other regular characters in my series include Ava's best friend Pauline, who's a kindergarten teacher, and Laura, who's having twins and waiting for her husband to come home from a special mission in the Middle East. 

There's also a smart gaggle of church ladies who often cause Ava no end of trouble when they volunteer at the fudge shop. 

And Dillon Rivers' American water spaniel, Lucky Harbor, finds his nose in all kinds of trouble in every fudge mystery.

My series presents a warm-hearted view of a real place popular for vacations. I hope readers have a chance to look it up online to explore and then visit sometime where reading a Fudge Shop Mystery while lazing away a day in a hammock is what Door County is all about. 

Cinderella Pink Fairy Tale Fudge Recipe

This easy, microwave recipe for a cherry-vanilla fudge is a favorite with my friends and coworkers. They like the "diamonds" they find in the fudge. (Leave out the diamonds if you don't like the crunchy texture.) 

This recipe can be made on the stovetop in a heavy pan if you prefer. Medium heat. 

Before you cook: Prepare an 8x8-inch pan by lining it with wax paper so that the wax paper comes over the edges. Spray the paper lightly with nonstick vegetable cooking spray. 

3 cups white chocolate chips (Use 2 cups if you like softer fudge)
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dried cherries (or can used canned whole tart cherries, chopped)
Red food coloring
1/2 cup edible white or clear glitter (large size) for "diamonds" (optional)
Pink or white luster dust (optional) 

Microwave method: 

Mix the chips and milk together and melt at medium power in the microwave for about 5 minutes. Stir and return to the microwave until fully melted. Stir in the vanilla and four or five (or more) drops of red food coloring to turn it pink. Just before pouring it into the pan, blend in 1/4 cup of the glitter if you want diamonds inside the fudge. Then pour it into the pan. Sprinkle the top of the fudge with the rest of the "diamond" glitter. 

Optional: Before you sprinkle on the diamond glitter, first brush on luster dust, which is a very find glittery edible powder you can buy in various colors. It's best to apply luster dust with a small artist's brush so that you don't waste it; don't try to shake it directly from it's container onto your fudge or use your fingers. Sprinkle the rest of the "diamond" glitter on top of the luster dust. 

Let your fudge sit for a few hours or overnight. When ready to cut, transfer it from its pan to a cutting board. Peel off the wax paper completely. Use a knife with a smooth blade or a fudge cutter. Cut into one-inch squares or any size you prefer. 

Christine DeSmet writes the Fudge Shop Mystery Series (Penguin Random House/NAL/Obsidian). She's also an award-winning scriptwriter and teaches writing at University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies where she directs the annual June Write-by-the-Lake Writer's Workshop & Retreat. You can write to her at UW-Madison, or find her on Facebook or at her website,

Ava and her fudge always make for a great time. I always very much enjoy the misadventures she finds herself in, and the predicaments based on things related to her love of fudge!  In this helping of the series, the town is turned upside down because of a sacred divinity recipe. And I can't honestly say that I blame them... divinity is just to die for!  But it becomes quite the crime caper, and quite the story!  From start to finish it keeps you engaged and leaves you dying to taste something sweet - something that I would be willing to bet is the best darn fudge you'd ever eat! 

Rating: 4.5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own. 

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