Cooking the Books: Irish Milkshake Murder by Carlene O’Connor, Peggy Ehrhart & Liz Ireland

Kensington Books’ latest trio of cozy seasonal novellas is a real winner, especially with an absolute stunner of a dessert recipe included to help properly celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!

In the opening story that gives this collection its name, Carlene O’Connor sends the heroine of her Home to Ireland series on a hen party to the Aran Islands. Tara Meehan doesn’t really want to make a big deal out of the Irish version of a bachelorette party, but she also doesn’t want to disappoint her good friend Breanna Cunningham, who is all in on a wild celebration in advance of Tara’s St. Patrick’s Day nuptials.

Not too wild, Tara hopes, as her fiance, Danny O’Donnell, has been persuaded to merge his stag do with hers. But when the party expands to include a pair of handsome Irish-dancing twin brothers, discord unexpectedly rears its ugly head. Someone dies after ingesting a boozy milkshake on the ferry ride to Inishmore, and Tara will have to brave a raging storm in order to figure out whodunnit before a murderer gets away scot free.

Peggy Ehrhart pens the middle novella, Murder Most Irish. Associate editor and amateur sleuth Pamela Paterson has long enjoyed dining at Hyler’s Luncheonette and is intrigued by the new chef’s addition of minty Irish milkshakes to the menu in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. When a fellow guest dies while drinking one, Pamela is certain that someone deliberately slipped something into the shake to murder him. The rest of Arborville isn’t so sure and begins to avoid the longstanding institution out of fear of being accidentally poisoned themselves. Will Pamela be able to identify the calculating killer before Hyler’s is forced to shut its doors for good?

The final story is Liz Ireland’s Mrs. Claus and the Luckless Leprechaun. Since April Claus married Nick and moved to Santaland, the inhabitants have been more than happy to throw themselves into the many American holidays she’s introduced to what used to be a fairly one-holiday town. St. Patrick’s Day is one they’re all fervently embracing, especially as it coincides with an important iceball game between longtime rivals Christmastown and Tinkertown. When a star player is viciously attacked, it’s up to April to solve the crime and help keep the peace in her husband’s realm.

I loved how April dealt with change in that final story, especially when it came to her new reindeer Wobbler. The comic relief and cinematic hijinks felt like a perfect matching bookend for the first novella, which had a similarly light-hearted attitude that contrasted well with the gravity of the violence involved. Murder Most Irish, like its heroine, was a little more staid but did bring us this absolute wonder of an Irish-inspired dessert:

Irish Coffee Mallow

Ingredients

1 cup strong coffee

20 regular-sized marshmallows

¼ cup Irish (or other) whiskey

1 cup heavy cream

Instructions

Heat the coffee in a small saucepan over medium heat. Without removing the saucepan from the heat, add the marshmallows a few at a time and stir. It might seem that they are going to bob about, remaining whole forever, but they eventually melt completely into the coffee. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the contents cool slightly. Add the Irish whiskey. (If you want to make sure the alcohol in the whiskey evaporates, add it as soon as you remove the saucepan from the heat.) Let the mixture cool to the point that you can touch the outside of the saucepan comfortably.

In a medium bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Add the coffee mixture to the bowl, stirring until it’s completely blended in. A wire whisk makes this process simple.

Ladle the mixture into six small dessert dishes–old-fashioned stemmed dessert cups made from clear glass are ideal–and chill for six to eight hours.

The novella describes this as Irish coffee in mousse form, but I’m not sure if that correctly captures just how delicious this dish is! The mallow has a consistency that’s half-mousse, half ice cream, and one hundred percent amazing. I’m partial to a good Irish coffee, and while I can either take or leave a mousse or an ice cream on its own, this genuinely has the best qualities of both desserts. I highly recommend making it for anyone else who enjoys Irish coffee. My only caveat is that the directive to wait until you can touch the outside of the saucepan comfortably may be more useful to some than others. I definitely waited a little longer than that, as my hands quite enjoy holding hot things.

Next week, we travel to the Midwest to continue the seasonal theme by baking up a staple while investigating a suspicious murder right out of a folktale. Do join me!

See also: Cooking the Books: Murder in the Tea Leaves by Laura Childs

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