Have Yourself a Fudgy Little Christmas By Nancy Coco: Review/Giveaway/Recipe

Dec 5, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Food Fun, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow
& Nancy Coco

This week we have a review of another Christmas mystery, Have Yourself a Fudgy Little Christmas by Nancy Coco, along with a fun Christmas recipe from Nancy. Details at the end of the post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and links to purchase it.

Have Yourself a Fudgy Little Christmas: A Candy-Coated Mystery by Nancy Coco
Review by Cynthia Chow

Christmas on Mackinac Island may be the postcard ideal of snow and horse-drawn carriages, but for Allie McMurphy the holiday is proving to be a little more humbug than ho ho. Extensive renovations on the top floor of her family’s Historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop have Allie bunking in her fudge shop manager’s vacant apartment until the construction is completed, but at least Allie has her bichonpoo Mal and calico Mella as roommates. A knock on the door and an intriguing note leads Allie to the steps of Fort Mackinac, where she is shocked to find a body facedown in the snow. Nearby church ladies identify the unconscious woman as Kayla Cramdon, a freelance graphic artist and new resident at the Ambassador apartments. That the note was left at the recently married seventy-something Frances’s apartment — and her name being the last words spoken out of Kayla’s mouth — have police immediately suspecting Frances of being involved in the death. When another death follows and fudge poisoning is suspected, investigating Officer Rex Manning is forced to shut down the Island’s fudge supply. With her business on the line and Frances in danger of being arrested, Allie surprises no one by diving headfirst into the investigation surrounding the mysterious young woman.

Rex has no illusions about dissuading Allie from the investigation, but their relationship is already on the rocks due to the recent arrival of his previous wife. Having his second ex-wife move in with him for protection from a stalker takes Rex off of Allie’s list of eligible suitors, while Trent Jessop only living part-time on the Island means that he pretty much removed himself from it. Just when a frustrated Allie receives the wise advice that she has the same odds of finding a unicorn as finding Mr. Drop Dead Gorgeous No Baggage No Issues Fits into Everything You Think You Want, a newly arrived local would seem to challenge that. When not dreaming up of tantalizing new Christmas-themed fudge recipes or dodging well-intentioned missions to be set up with dates, Allie and her newspaper-owning friend Liz McElroy follow the path of the mysterious woman and the trail that leads back to an uncharacteristically closed-mouth Frances.

This charming holiday-themed book is perfect for readers looking to ease into the Christmas season. Fudge recipes abound, along with an enviable snowy Mackinac Island setting. Allie’s loyalty to her friends and loved means that she never hesitates to help them, although she sensibly narcs on the seniors who engage in questionably legal crime scene investigations. With both Trent and Rex likely to receive coal in their stockings from Santa, the third alternative in the form of bed-and-breakfast owning Harry Wooston is a welcome surprise. The presence of Mal and Mella guarantees that cozy-loving readers will find this eighth in the series irresistible, balancing out what is a truly heart-wrenching mystery. Friends, family, and fudge are the perfect trifecta for this seasonal read by a reliable and prolific author.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Have Yourself a “Fruitcaky” Little Christmas
by Nancy Coco

People often tell jokes about terrible Christmas fruitcakes that lasted forever. But I grew up eating fruitcakes that were moist, boozy flavored, and filled with my favorite fruits. So I thought I’d share this Christmas tradition with you.

Christmas Fruit and Nut Cake Recipe

Buy your favorite dried/candied fruit and nuts. I used:

8 ounces of candied pineapple
4 ounces of green candied cherries
4 ounces of red candied cherries
12 ounces of raisins
12 ounces of golden raisins
12 ounces of dates (I used pre-cubed coated in sugar)
4 ounces of chopped almonds
8 ounces of chopped pecans

Chop the pineapple and cherries into 1/2 inch pieces.

2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of cloves
1/2 teaspoon of cardamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of allspice
1/4 teaspoon of salt
4 ounces of butter
1/2 cup of brown sugar
3 eggs separated
1/4 cup of orange juice
Brandy for soaking – at least 300 ml

Sift flour and spices and salt in a bowl. Add a small amount of flour to the raisins and dates just to coat and keep from sticking. Cream butter and brown sugar in another bowl. Add beaten egg yolks and mix. Next add flour and juice to the creamed mixture and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter. Add fruit and nuts and stir.

Line an angel food cake pan with parchment paper. Pack cake into angel food cake pan. Ensure it is even across the top. I left about an inch from the top. The cake won’t rise too much. Pack any remaining mixture into parchment paper lined mini loaf pans. You may need between two and four mini loaf pans.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Place a pan of hot water on the bottom shelf. Place the cakes on the middle shelf. Bake between 2 and 4 hours depending on the size and weight of your cake. I used a skewer to test for doneness. Cool cakes completely. Remove from pan. Take off the paper and place on cheesecloth or 100 percent cotton towels. Place cake on cake plate and mini loaves on aluminum foil. Douse with brandy. Wrap in cheesecloth and foil. Douse daily with brandy. Cake can be eaten the next day, if desired, but the longer you save and douse with brandy the better the cake. My father would make these the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and we would eat the doused cakes starting the week before Christmas.

This makes a beautiful cake that is filled with fruits and nuts, a little boozy and flavorful.

The original recipe was doubled from above, but I found it too difficult to find a bowl big enough to stir it well. I recommend if you love this cake to make it in multiple smaller batches as listed above.

The cake tastes wonderful with walnuts, figs, and citron as well as the cherries pineapple, raisins, and dates. Any combination of 3-1/2 pounds of fruit and 1 pound of nuts. Enjoy!

To enter to win a copy of Have Yourself a Fudgy Little Christmas, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “fudgy,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 12, 2020. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT WILL TAKE MUCH LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode goes up next week!

You can use this link to purchase this book from indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy, and KRL gets a portion of the sale:

You can use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

USA Today Bestselling author, Nancy J Parra AKA Nancy Coco AKA Nell Hampton, is the author of over 30 published novels which include five mystery series: The Oregon Honey-comb Mystery Series (Kensington), The Candy-Coated Mysteries (Kensington), The Kensington Palace Mystery Series (Crooked Lane), The Wine Country Tours Mystery Series (Crooked Lane) The Gluten-free Baker’s Treat Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime), and The Perfect Proposal Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime). Her writing has been called witty and her protagonists plucky by reviewers around the world. Nancy is a member of Sisters in Crime, and loves to hear from readers.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Been following this series and
    it’s great. Love books related
    to the holiday season.

  2. “Fudge Poisoning!” Count me in the drawing!

  3. Reading Have Yourself a Fudgy Little Christmas: A Candy-Coated Mystery sounds like it would be a wonderful holiday treat. Your fruit cake recipe looks good too. I am one of those people who likes a good fruit cake. In my opinion, fruit cake should be soft, moist, filled with fruit and nuts with just enough cake to hold it all together!

  4. This is a great series and fudge is a perfect Christmas treat. What a wonderful combination!

  5. Christmas, fudge, and a cute dog are some of my favorite things. Thanks for the contest!

  6. Would love to win a copy and the fruitcake looks amazing!

  7. I’m from Michigan and love Mackinaw Island, would love a copy! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com

  8. Love this book series.

  9. I love this series and even have a couple on my bookshelf.. I’d be thrilled to add this one to the collection. It would bring me a very happy holiday season.

  10. Great series. Love the Mackinac Island setting.

  11. I would love to read this book. We have Stay at Home Orders until Jan. 4th in California. Thanks for the chance.

  12. I would love to go back to Mackinac Island via this fun book!

  13. This is one of my favorite series. I love Mackinac Island and remember all the fudge shops. I don’t keep all the books I purchase but this is a series I will keep and read over and over again.

  14. Just saw an interview with Nancy at Poisoned Pen. This is a new to me series and I look forward to reading it.

    My brother loves fudge, but hates “interruptions” such as nuts. Plan to make him some for Christmas this year.

    Will pass on the fruitcake (we do a spice cake with raisins and nuts, and that is as close to fruitcake as I will go.)

    Karen94066 at aol.com

  15. This sounds amazing! Thank you for the chance.

  16. We have a winner!


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