Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book Club Week: Murder by Mocha and 5 Minute Microwave Fudge by Cleo Coyle #bookclubs

It’s Book Club Week at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen, and I'm happy to send a shout-out to the "Sister Dear" book club of North Carolina, whose members inspired today's post. 

The club will be discussing Murder by Mocha next Saturday at a local coffeehouse, and my husband (and partner in crime writing) will be joining me in a conference call appearance at their gathering. We're looking forward to it!

If you’d like Marc and I to appear at your own book club via telephone, drop us a line at our public e-mail box: 


And if you're new to this site or our series, keep reading...


(Frequently Asked Questions of Cleo)

1) Question: Which of your books should I read first?

Answer: There are 12 books in our bestselling Coffeehouse Mystery series, with the 13th Billionaire Blend, coming from Penguin in December. But you don’t have to read them in order. Each stands alone, and focuses on a different theme and a different aspect of New York City life.

2) Q: Do you have Reading Group Guides for my book club?

A: Yes! You can download free Book Club Discussion Questions for many of our books at our Reading Group Guide page, just click here.

Take our "killer" New York tour
at Mystery Fanfare by
clicking here.

3) Q: What are your books about?

A: My husband and I have been living and working in New York City for three decades, and our Coffeehouse Mysteries—a unique blend of crime, humor, action, and romance—are set in and around the Village Blend, a landmark coffeehouse in Greenwich Village. The coffeehouse is managed by Clare Cosi, a divorced, single mom who continually finds herself mixed up in murder. View the series trailer by clicking the arrow in the window below...



4) Q. Who else is in the cast besides Clare?

A. Clare Cosi is often assisted in her city-wide sleuthing with a colorful cast of characters. Click here to visit their avatar page and read about them in their own words. In brief, they include...

Madame Dreyfus-Allegro-Dubois, the octogenarian owner of the century-old Village Blend...

Her adult son, Matt Allegro, a globe-trotting coffee hunter, ...

A quirky family of young baristas, whom Clare not only manages but often mothers, and...

A good man and smart cop, NYPD Detective Mike Quinn, who becomes emotionally involved with Clare over the course of the series.

5) Q: What is the exact order of your titles?

A: For a checklist with the correct order of all 13 titles in the series and brief descriptions of every plotline click here. If you’d rather go to our website for this information, click here and scroll down.

6) Q: Are your books available in audio?

A: Yes. They’re produced by AudioGo (BBC America Audiobooks), and you can see the entire line by clicking here. They’re also available (simply search by title) via Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.

7) Q: What book would you select for a book club discussion?

A: The holiday season is coming, so if you’re looking for a holiday-themed discussion, try...

HOLIDAY GRIND in which Clare Cosi solves
the heartless slaying of a kind sidewalk Santa...


in which Clare tracks down the
killer of a 
young cookie baker. 

And, yes, there are plenty of 
delicious holiday and cookie 
recipes included in both books.

Holiday or not, I'm also happy to suggest the same book that the "Dear Sister" Book Club chose for their discussion at a local NC coffeehouse next Saturday...

Marc and I were inspired to write this mystery after learning about an actual culinary crime. Like the other titles in the series, Murder by Mocha can be read as a stand-alone, and it offers many twists and turns. There are long-buried secrets, stunning surprises, and the characters make choices that will (no doubt) be the subject of lively discussions and even disagreements. 

To read suggested Book Club Questions for Murder by Mocha, click here.

As the story opens, Clare Cosi is working on a special project. Her employer has asked her to provide premium coffee beans to an old friend (Alicia) for the development of a new product. Mocha Magic Coffee is supposedly laced with herbal aphrodisiacs that will put the "magic" back into your love life.

Clare is skeptical about the drink’s potency—though she does plan to share it with NYPD Detective Mike Quinn (when he’s off duty, of course). Before she gets that chance, a corpse turns up in Alicia's hotel suite. Then it quickly disappears without any evidence a crime has taken place. At the product’s launch party, a pretty young executive is found dead. With half the cast going a little loco from the Mocha, Clare concludes that someone wants control of this coffee’s secret formula enough to kill for it.

In the meantime, Mike becomes embroiled in a cold case murder and shocks Clare when he informs her that she holds the key to solving it. Toss in a stunning revelation about Clare’s beloved employer, and a budding relationship between Clare’s daughter and a rogue cop named Franco, and you’ve got one heck of a caffeinated tale. 

Murder by Mocha was a blast to write, and it made two Top-10 lists for Best Cozy Reads. Thanks to our readers, it was also a bestseller in hardcover and paperback. 

Read the prologue and 
first chapter by clicking here.

Take a peek at the book's
recipe section (with foodie photos)
by clicking here.

Culinary theme:


In Murder by Mocha Clare Cosi not only caters a chocolate-themed party, she must sniff out clues at a confectioners' expo, where she also snags a sinfully delicious sample from Valrhona, one of the world's most renowned chocolatiers.

Your book club group can join Clare with a chocolate-tasting of your own because
Valrhona's online store offers tasting tins of their gourmet chocolate. You can see the line by clicking here

OR you might want to make your own chocolate treat from Murder by Mocha's recipe section. Today I'm sharing a very easy one: Five Minute Chocolate-Hazelnut Fudge. You can even make it in your microwave...

Cleo Coyle’s "Magic"
Five Minute Microwave
Chocolate-Hazelnut Fudge

“Oh, chocolate fudge I’ll eat. What I can’t swallow is fudging, as in fudging statistics, fudging results, fudging the truth. Mathematicians call it a fudge factor—putting an extra calculation into an equation just so it will work out as expected. It’s what we law enforcement types call a scam.”
                                                ~ Detective Mike Quinn,
Murder by Mocha 

Scamming does indeed play a role in Murder by Mocha's plotline, but there is no fudging in this fudge recipe. The claim that you can make it in a microwave is true, and the results are creamy, dreamy, and absolutely delicious. It's a great fudge to serve a parties or give as a gift, so you might want to keep this recipe handy for holidays... ~ Cleo

To download this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.


1 (14 ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 (12-ounce) package of good quality semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup Nutella chocolate-hazelnut spread (room temperature)

Step 1 – Prep pan: Crisscross the bottom of an 8 x 8 square pan with two sheets of parchment paper. The parchment sheets should be long enough to extend, like handles, over the edges of the pan. 

Step 2 – Melt with microwave: Place the milk into a microwave safe bowl. Cut the butter into the milk. Pour in the chocolate chips, and microwave it all for 30 seconds. ONLY 30 seconds. Remove and stir. Nuke it for another 30 and remove to stir again. This should be enough time to melt the chocolate and butter. If not, continue microwaving and stirring in 20 second increments until everything is melted.

NOTE: Do not simply microwave this mixture for 2 solid minutes without stirring. You run the risk of scorching the chocolate and completely ruining the fudge. Once chocolate is burned, there is no saving it. Be sure to melt it slowly, in increments. 

Step 3 – Finish the fudge: Into the melted mixture, sprinkle the salt and measure in the vanilla and Nutella. 

NOTE: Nutella should not be cooked in a microwave because high heat will alter its texture and flavor, which is why I'm careful how I use it in recipes. What I want you to do is simply stir the Nutella into the warm, melted mixture that comes out of the microwave. Be sure to stir from the bottom, lifting and folding to blend everything well. 

Step 4 – Chill and cut: Now pour the chocolate mixture into your lined pan. Using a rubber spatula or back of a spoon, smooth the top, leveling it off. 

Chill the pan in the refrigerator until firm—this will take 2 to 3 hours. Remove and cut into small squares. To store, place fudge in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator, and, of course... 

Eat (and read) with joy! 
~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries 

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

Sign up for my
newsletter here.

To download the free illustrated guide to 

Murder by Mocha’s recipe section, click here


  1. Cleo, love the fudge recipe and love all the questions you answered regarding your series. What fun! I hope your book club meets go swimmingly!

    Daryl / Avery

    1. Daryl/Avery - Isn't it a thrill to hear a book club is reading one of your titles, especially when they also serve a recipe from your book? It is for me and Marc, and we're very grateful to Book Clubs for their support of our work over the years. Thanks for the kind comment and have a great weekend!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  2. My sweet tooth says Yes! to this recipe! Love the avatars you created for your characters! Does that help bring them alive for you? (Of course our characters are *always* real to us!)

    1. Peg – Yes, indeed, our characters came alive for us from the very first book. Marc and I created the avatars (and their scripts) to give our longtime readers a laugh and encourage new readers to give our books a try. (We’re due to add more avatars soon…they’re lots of fun to create, I must admit.) Thanks for the nice comment and thanks to your sweet tooth, too!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  3. All this yumminess AND a link for Valrhona (spellcheck wants me to change this to "hormonal"!) chocolate samplers!
    You've done it again

    1. LOL on your spellcheck wanting Valrhona to read "hormonal" -- although that is a state that tends to produce a craving for chocolate, so maybe your spellcheck is smarter than you think!

      Always a pleasure to *see* you in our Kitchen, Libby, cheers!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  4. I know what I'm making for my Christmas packages--hazelnut fudge sounds amazing!

    And I think the Quinn avatar looks just like a cuddlier version of the Quinn I've been imagining!

    1. Wendy - Belated thanks for the fun comment--especially about the "cuddlier version" of Quinn, ha! And this fudge does indeed make a wonderful holiday gift: fast, fun, yummy, inexpensive--but also a sweet way to express lovin' from the oven (okay, it's a microwave oven, but you get the gist!).

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  5. Oh super yummy! It was great to pop into this book club meeting, Cleo!

    Thank you.


  6. Cleo, amazing photos of the fudge. Now I want some! I would love to serve it at a book club meeting. Yum, with a cup of your coffee . . .


    1. Krista – aw, thanks for the nice words and the good thought—a fresh pot of coffee would very nicely complement this chocolate-hazelnut fudge (or a chocolate tasting) for a book club meeting. Thanks again and have a great weekend…

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  7. I used to make a microwave fudge -- so quick that I could put it together while Hubster walked the babysitter home. 1 box powdered sugar, 1 stick butter, 1/4 c condensed (or regular) milk. Nuke about 2 minutes. Add 1 t vanilla, stir till smooth. Add nuts or anything else. Pour into greased 8x8 pan and stick in the fridge for about 15 minutes, then cut into squares and put it back in the fridge to store.

    Terry's Place

    1. Don’t you love fast-and-easy ways to put fudge on a plate! Thanks for the wonderful contribution, Terry, I’ll have to try it.

      Warmest wishes thanks a million for dropping by!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter