Showing posts with label Christine DeSmet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christine DeSmet. Show all posts

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Learn how to make Rose Garden Fudge with guest author Christine DeSmet!

Please welcome today's guest author, Christine DeSmet, with a lovely spring recipe for this beautiful Easter day. In today's post, she not only shares a recipe and tells us about her new release, but she also teaches us how to crystallize rose petals for gorgeous garnishes. Take it away, Christine! 

~ Cleo

I’m thrilled to bring Ava Oosterling’s "Rose Garden Fudge" to new readers and cooks. This recipe appears in Hot Fudge Frame-Up, Book 2 of the Fudge Shop Mystery series.

Five-Alarm Fudge debuts April 7 with more fudge recipes. It features a divinity fudge recipe created in the 1800s by a Belgian nun made famous in the United States when a miracle happened to her. True story. More on miracles later.

Cooking with roses is fun because they’re pungent and pretty. Rose petals and rose oils are commonly added to many main-meal dishes, such as rice and salads.

When cooking with roses, please be sure to use petals that are free of chemicals.

I called local florists to see if I could find untainted roses. I could not. I wanted fresh, organic roses and here in Madison, Wis., they eluded me.

I’m a walker, and I recalled that two of my neighbors had rose bushes.

Luckily, Ken Belmore—also a walker—said I could have all the red roses I wanted from his bushes next to his house on a lake. (So appropriate since my series is set on a lake.) Thanks, Ken!

In Hot Fudge Frame-Up, the rose garden where some hanky-panky goes on is filled with every rose color imaginable. I’d love to make confetti rose fudge sometime.

Rose petals can be used dried or fresh. Be sure to pick apart the petals on whole blossoms to inspect for any insects, which are rare. I also dry and crystallize petals with sugar to serve like tiny chips alongside the Rose Garden Fudge.

Back to that miracle involving my new book, which features fires. I was researching for proof of a divinity fudge recipe made by a famous Belgian nun.

I discovered the Great Fire of 1871 took an estimated 1,500 lives in the region of my mystery series on Oct. 8-9 of that dry year, but a wood church and the young nun within it were spared right in the middle of the flames. A miracle.

As I researched more, I found the young Belgian nun had said she experienced Marian visits—in which Mary, the mother of Jesus, appeared to request she devote her life to teaching children. This is the only such Marian visit sanctioned in the United States by the Catholic Church. A church was built on the site, and it’s now visited by thousands every year in the tiny rural area near where my fudge series takes place. Sister Adele is buried next to the church.

I find out the most fascinating history when looking for fudge recipes.

Rose Garden Fudge

Rose petals are lovely, edible additions to confections and desserts. Use organic (chemical free), fresh rose petals in your favorite colors for this recipe. You can find edible flowers in specialty shops or produce sections of grocery stores, and if not, you might do what I did—ask your neighbor for a couple of blooms.

Before you cook: Prepare an 8x8-inch pan by either greasing it with butter on the bottom and sides, or lining it with wax paper so that the wax paper comes over the edges. Spray the paper lightly with nonstick vegetable cooking spray.


2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips*
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons rosewater
1 medium rose blossom in full bloom (about 2 inches across)

Optional: crystallized rose petals for garnish**

Directions: Prepare the rose petals that you want to go into the fudge. Pluck from blossom, then cut each into small edible pieces (half-inch diameter or smaller).

Put chips, milk, butter, and salt in a medium-sized sauce pan on medium heat. Stir constantly until melted and glassy. Will take about 20 minutes.

Add the extract and rose water. Stir thoroughly. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle fudge with rose petals. Work into the top of the fudge with a greased spatula.

*Using white chips: This is lovely when made with white chocolate and I prefer that variety because the roses show up so well against the white fudge, however the rose flavor can be overpowering. When using white chocolate, reduce the rosewater to 1 tablespoon.

**To crystallize rose petals: Use whole petals plucked fresh from the blossom. Mix powdered egg whites or powdered meringue according to directions on the package. Dip rose petals in the prepared mixture; let excess drip off each petal. Set on waxed paper and sprinkle both sides with extra-fine sugar, such as bartender’s sugar. Let dry. Drying will take about two days, depending on the humidity in the air.

About the author

Christine DeSmet writes the national, bestselling Fudge Shop Mystery Series (Penguin Random House/NAL/Obsidian).

The series stars amateur sleuth Ava Oosterling and her Grandpa Gil who operate Oosterlings’ Live Bait, Bobbers & Belgian Fudge & Beer on a Lake Michigan harbor in Door County, Wis., which is known as the Cape Cod of the Midwest.

Christine is available through Facebook or her website,, and University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches writing,

Be sure to look for Christine's newest release—Five-Alarm Fudge, on sale April 7th. When a visiting European prince asks Ava Oosterling to unearth a priceless, 1800s divinity fudge recipe, the request fans the flames of foul play by an arsonist, with murder marring her Cinderella dreams. A tale of romance, royal relatives, and revenge.

Thank you, Christine!

We wish you and all of
our readers and followers,
a very...

Happy Easter!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Cinderella Pink Fairy Tale Fudge

Once we saw the lovely pink fudge, how could we at MLK not ask Christine DeSmet to be our guest? 

by Christine DeSmet

Thank you for inviting me to share a recipe from the Fudge Shop Mystery Series. The recipe for Cinderella Pink Fairy Tale Fudge is my original recipe that you’ll find in Book 1, First-Degree Fudge.

A second Fairy Tale Fudge Flavor is featured with a recipe in Book 2, Hot Fudge Frame-Up, published on June 3, 2014.

Each book also features other original fudge recipes, including those from my Fisherman’s Catch Tall Tale Fudge line for men. Beer fudge anyone? Beer chocolates are served at a local bar in Madison, Wisconsin, along with a local craft beer or two flavored with chocolate.

Belgian chocolate gets its due in my series. Belgian American Ava Oosterling and her Grandpa Gil, operate Oosterlings’ Live Bait, Bobbers & Belgian Fudge & Beer in Fishers’ Harbor, Wisconsin.

The village is in the real Door County, known as the Cape Cod of the Midwest. Door County is that thumb of land in Lake Michigan surrounded by 300 miles of coastline.

It’s a quaint place where fast food chains are banned in the picturesque upper half of the county. Because the county is a top producer of cherries in this country, I knew the first flavor of fudge my character had to make was cherry-vanilla. Ava’s fudge is used to hide diamonds and choke a famous actress to death in First-Degree Fudge.

For the crime in Book 2, Hot Fudge Frame-Up, one of the 11 lighthouses dotting the shorelines comes into play, and contributes to ideas for fudge recipes. .

Why are Belgians featured in my book? Well, Poirot was a Belgian and I figured it was time for a female Poirot. But the Belgian heritage is strong in Door County. It’s in a region that courted the Belgians in the 1850s with land for sale at $1.25 an acre. As a result, over 15,000 Belgians came to the area. All of Door County’s population today is just 28,000. The area is said to have the largest rural population of Belgians in the United States.

You’ll learn about the history of fudge, too, and other sweet treats throughout my series.

I hope you visit Oosterlings’ Live Bait, Bobbers & Belgian Fudge & Beer soon! Enjoy the fudge with a frothy, frosty Belgian beer!  

Cinderella Pink Fairy Tale Fudge (with Diamonds) 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.)

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  
½ cup edible white or clear glitter (large size) for “diamonds” (optional)
Pink or white luster dust (optional)

Special note for Mystery Lovers Kitchen readers:  This recipe can be mixed either on the stovetop in a heavy pan or in the microwave in a glass dish. The sugar crystals love to be “handled” by the cook, so I prefer whipping all the ingredients together at once in a pan on the stove and then constantly beating the mixture from the moment the chocolate starts melting until its glassy and ready to pour into the pan.

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 fine 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 its 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. 

About Hot Fudge Frame-Up (Book 2, Fudge Shop Mystery Series)

Ava is gearing up for the First Annual Fudge Festival—a huge celebration that could draw national attention to her old-fashioned fudge shop in Door County, Wisconsin—known as the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.” She’s invited two celebrity chefs to go head-to-head with her in a fudge contest. Everyone is having a tasty time…until a judge for the festival is found dead.

About the author

Christine DeSmet writes the Fudge Shop Mystery Series (Penguin Random House/NAL/Obsidian). She is also the author of a romantic suspense, Spirit Lake, and several romantic mystery short stories and screenplays. She teaches writing at University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies, where she’ll be teaching novel writing at the Write-by-the-Lake Writer’s Workshop & Retreat June 16-20. Her pink fudge was a hit at the breakfast tables at the recent Malice Domestic conference for readers and authors in Bethesda, MD.

Christine is a Belgian American who was born among a large clan of Belgians in Moline, Illinois, then grew up on a farm near Barneveld, Wisconsin.

She visits Door County often and encourages anyone to stop by the Belgian kermis (harvest festival) in Namur, Wisconsin, on September 21, 2014.

You can write to her at UW-Madison,  

Fudge photo credit:  Laura Kahl