A DOOMFUL OF SUGAR is the first book in the brand-new Maple Syrup Mysteries by Catherine Bruns. As with the author’s other series, the reader is in for a treat with memorable characters, a charming setting, mouthwatering food, and a well-plotted mystery that will keep armchair sleuths on their toes. In this newest release, protagonist Leila Khoury has just returned home to Vermont after her father was murdered. Needless to say, his death devastated his family. Leila has been hit especially hard because she’d been teaching in Florida despite knowing her father wanted her home to help run their maple syrup farm, Sappy Endings. When her father’s will bequeaths the farm to her with the stipulation she must stay and work for a year, Leila has no choice but to concede.
Ms. Bruns weaves an emotional level into the story as Leila navigates the conflicts within her own family: her mother and brother; and with the employees who work for their farm while navigating her own grief. She also provides plenty of descriptions about the maple farm along with the production and business side of things, The author writes with a deft hand so that the pacing doesn’t drag, but instead, the plot is enhanced by the relationships between the characters and the vivid descriptions.
When Leila finds out that her father’s death wasn’t the result of a random act of violence but that he was targeted, she turns her grief into action, determined to find the villain herself, especially when her brother is considered the prime suspect. She runs into some snafus, starting out, allowing her grief to trigger aggressive questioning with preconceived ideas on who the killer is. But as Leila learns to trust and accept help from the people around her, secrets are uncovered and her life might be in danger. I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t see the twists and turns coming as the story unfolded. I was quite shocked with the big reveal—in a good way! As the book concluded, there are hints at what’s coming for Leila, and I can’t wait to see if I’m right.
Not only are there many mentions of maple-based foods and treats throughout the book, but Leila’s Lebanese mother can often be found in the kitchen cooking up traditional dishes. I greatly enjoyed the descriptions of the dishes and my tastebuds were tantalized as I envisioned the food. While there may not be any Lebanese recipes provided, the author has included several maple-based recipes at the back of the book, which all sound amazing. I was honored when Catherine asked if I’d like to contribute a recipe and I’m delighted to share it here with you today: Maple Shortbread Cookies. These cookies are sweetened with maple sugar—which is basically maple syrup that has been boiled until all the liquid has evaporated—along with a bit of brown sugar. Rolled out, then cut into your favorite shapes—I love using fall leaves cutters with this recipe—all these cookies need for garnishing is another dusting of maple sugar before baking. Or, decorate with your favorite royal icing, or maple frosting, or colorful sprinkles. However you choose, I hope you enjoy these Maple Shortbread Cookies as much as my family has over the years!
There’s nothing sweet about murder…
Leila Khoury has always believed that everyone loved her father as much as they loved his artisanal maple syrup. But when he’s killed, and she returns to Sugar Ridge, Vermont to take over his business, she starts to realize how much of his life she’s left untapped.
With her brother under suspicion, her mother just barely holding it together, and police not producing any leads, Leila will have to investigate herself if she wants answers about her father’s sticky end. But the more she learns, the more she worries that there won’t be a sappy ending to the story.
A special thanks to Catherine Bruns for providing a print copy of A DOOMFUL OF MURDER! Contest ends November 2, 2022 at 11:59 pm PST and is limited to U.S. residents only. Please use the Rafflecopter box located below to enter. The winner will be announced on this page and on Cinnamon & Sugar’s Facebook page, as well as notified by email (so check your spam folder!)
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup pure maple sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon maple extract
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons pure maple sugar
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 4 - 5 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- Optional sprinkles
Beat the butter until light and creamy then beat in the maple sugar, brown sugar, salt, vanilla, and maple flavoring until well combined.
Mix in the flour until dough no longer looks dry and crumbly.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F) and line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.
Lightly flour work surface and rolling pin. Divide dough in half and roll out each portion between 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thick, depending on your preference.
Using your favorite cookie cutters, cut into desired shapes and place on prepared baking sheet(s). Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
If using maple sugar for topping, sprinkle the tops of the cutouts with the sugar.
Bake 9 - 11 minutes for thinner cookies and 11 - 13 minutes for thicker cookies. The edges should be lightly golden.
Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then remove to wire rack to cool completely.
If using maple icing instead of maple sugar topping, whisk the confectioners' sugar and 4 tablespoons maple syrup together. If needed, add additional maple syrup until the icing is spreadable and smooth. Spread over the completely cooled cookies. Decorate with sprinkles if desired.
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I was provided with an advance copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Yes, I’ve visited one in NH that wasn’t too far from where I lived.
No, I’ve never been to a maple syrup farm. I have been to maple syrup festivals, though. Lots of fun and yummy pancakes! This book sounds like a great beginning to a series! And I love the recipe!
well i don’t know if counts as a “farm” but my old neighbors produced maple syrup so i have seen it made.
Nope never have.
Never been but would love to go to one.
This book sounds so good. I’ve only been to a maple syrup farm in Hallmark movies.
I haven’t visited a maple syrup farm – and I’d love to! Thanks for the yummy recipe!
No, I have never visited a maple syrup farm.
This book looks just like my cuppa!!! The recipe also sounds delicious, and must try to make it!
Thank you to Catherine for sharing her writing talents with us eager readers!
No. I have never visited a maple syrup farm. It sounds very interesting.
I have never visited a maple farm, but I may have the chance this winter.
I’ve never visited a maple syrup farm. The cover is adorable, who can resist a cat.
There’s a maple syrup farm just a few miles from my house. I buy maple syrup & all kinds of maple products there…maple sugar, maple cream, maple roasted nuts, maple popcorn, maple cotton candy. And every March during NY State Maple Weekends, in addition to tours & watching syrup being made, they offer maple slushies & frozen maplechinos…which are amazing!
Cookies look good!
We took our kids to a small one years ago.
I have never been to a maple syrup farm.
No. I have never been to a maple syrup farm.
Way back when I was in Brownies, 45ish years ago. I went on a tour of Vermont last year but I was sick the day our tour visited the Maple Syrup farm, I was really looking forward to it too.
No, I have not.
No, I have never been to a maple syrup farm.
No, i have not
I never have had the pleasure of visiting a maple farm, but I do live in town where there the high school sports teams are called the Adrian Maples.
Hi, no , I have never visited a maple syrup farm, I think that would be awesome though! This book sounds like a great read, and Thank you so much for sharing this delicious sounding recipe . Have a great weekend.
Although I’ve never visited a maple farm, we ate our share of the wonderful products when we traveled the New England states a few years back.
Love Catherine’s books! in fact, I’m half way through reading this one and I’m LOVING it. So not entering the contest, but sharing it everywhere so others may have the chance.
No I never had but I would love too!
No I never have but I would love too!
No. I have never had the opportunity to visit a Maple tree farm. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.
I’ve never been to a maple farm but I think I would enjoy visiting.
Yes, I have visited a maple syrup farm. I grew up in the Northeast and traveled to Vermont when I was a kid. What’s funny is that I really don’t like the taste of maple syrup but seeing the inner workings of the farm was super cool especially at that age. A Doomful of Sugar sounds like a great read and, honestly, anything written by Catherine Bruns is gold is my book. Thanks for the giveaway!
No, I haven’t but would like to someday. I love maple syrup!
Yes I have visited a maple sugar farm up in The New England states! It was in 2001. I can’t remember which state! It was very interesting! Thanks for the recipe and the chance to read Catherine’s book!
I have never visited one before, but it seems like fun and i would like to someday.
No I haven’t visit a maple syrup farm, but I hope to some day. Thanks.
Hi! No, I haven’t visited one but I do know how much different real maple syrup tastes than the syrup that you can buy in the store!! Thanks for this great chance!
No I haven’t but sounds like fun!
No. But I would like to.
I haven’t visited a maple syrup farm but I would love to one day.
Yes, I grew up in New England surrounded by maple farms.
I’ve never visited a maple syrup farm but if I ever travel near one I will definitely visit.
I have not yet had the opportunity to visit a maple syrup farm, but I do get fresh, local maple syrup from the farmer’s market in a nearby town. I love to add maple syrup to my oatmeal. I can’t wait to give the maple shortbread cookies a try. They sound yummy!
No, I have not, but would love to someday.
Haven’t tried…Yet! But sounds delicious!
I have never visited a maple syrup farm.
No. I have never visited a maple syrup farm.
I have never visited a maple syrup farm