Christmas Caramels and Other Murder Foods

We read The Christmas Caramel Murder by Joanne Fluke! It’s kind of a mystery and kind of a cookbook, so we tried out some of the recipes. Our overall summary is: these are…fine recipes. They all created products that were mostly enjoyable to consume. They were all fairly simple, although they often had somewhat strange proportions.

Here’s what we made:

  • Gingerbread Pancakes
  • Red Velvet Whippersnappers
  • Red Raspberry Muffins
  • The titular Christmas Caramels


We collected together all of our ingredients and gathered at Renata’s house for our cooking extravaganza.



Duarte wanted to help cook but played coy about posing for photos.

I mostly wanted to make the gingerbread pancakes because I had recently gotten a Pusheen pancake pan (from the Pusheen Box!) and I wanted to use it.

Pusheen Pan

I’d never used a pancake pan like that before and it took some trial and error before I got the technique down. Unfortunately, the darker color of the gingerbread pancake batter wasn’t especially conducive to cat designs, so they never looked great. They tasted fine, though. I made the batter in advance and let it rest in the fridge the night before, as she suggested in the recipe. (As we mentioned the podcast, she said this very casually as if we were all always doing this with pancake batter? But I never have in my life.)

Pancakes pancakes pancakes

The Red Raspberry Muffins were also…fine. They called for both raspberry jam and frozen raspberries, but then only 1 cup of frozen raspberries which wasn’t really enough to get a good raspberry-to-bite ratio. The batter was also portioned as such that even though, presumably, they were writing this recipe from scratch, there was too much batter for 12 muffins but not enough for 24 and it said right in the recipe to put extra batter into a loaf pan and make a tea cake? So we did that.

The Red Velvet Whippersnappers were, again, fine? They’re basically a chocolate chip cookie but with boxed red velvet cake mix as the base, and then also dipped in powdered sugar and with a maraschino cherry on top.



Then there were the Christmas caramels. TBH, I was very hesitant to attempt making them, because my mom makes them every year at Christmas and she always ruins at least one batch even though she’s done it dozens of times, because it’s just a tricky recipe. Kait was ambitious, though, so we gave it a crack.

They turned out, well, less than fine, I guess? They came out as a hard candy. (According to my mom, this means the candy got too hot while cooking. That candy thermometer is a harsh mistress!)

Hard Candy ChristmasHard candy pieces
And finally, we made hot lemonade, which is not a recipe given by the author, but one of the characters drinks it. We used this recipe from AllRecipes, except I squeezed in a little extra lemon juice and that was a mistake. It turned out….extremely lemony and we added a huge amount of honey to counteract the lemon. And then I accidentally got drunk on it.

hot lemonade :(

If you learn one thing from us, please: don’t drink hot lemonade. But if you must drink it: drink responsibly.

In summary: the recipes included in this cozy mystery are fine, but if you’re really looking for quality recipes you’re probably better served (see what I did there) by an actual cookbook. Check out our readers advisory page for the podcast episode for suggestions of more cookbooks and more mysteries!

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