Joanne Fluke knows how to tell a good murder mystery, but she does so with a twist perfect for those with a sweet tooth.
In her popular Hannah Swensen series, which made its debut in 2000, the red-headed heroine owns a bakery in the small town of Lake Eden, Minn., and over the course of 20 books, she solves all kinds of crimes and shares a few recipes while she’s at it. Like each of the preceding books, “Blackberry Pie Murder” (Kensington, $25) features more than 20 recipes throughout the book, including these Tio Tito’s Sublime Lime Bars, which use the Austin favorite Tito’s Handmade Vodka.
Fluke will be in Austin early next week to talk about her books and her many careers, which have included stints as a public school teacher, a psychologist, a musician, a private detective’s assistant, a legal secretary, a short-order cook, a florist’s assistant and a caterer and party planner.
You can catch Fluke from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday (today) at the H-E-B at 2508 E. Riverside Drive, and she’ll be at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd., at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. More information and books available at joannefluke.com.
Tio Tito’s Sublime Lime Bar Cookies
This recipe works with either vodka or milk in the filling, and author Joanna Fluke says she’s never met anyone who didn’t like the bars.
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1 cup (2 sticks) cold, salted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour (pack it down when you measure it)
4 beaten eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/3 cup vodka, such as Tito’s (can substitute whole milk)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (pack it down when you measure it)
Powdered sugar to sprinkle on top
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To make the coconut crust, either finely chop the shredded coconut or process it in the bowl of a food processor. You’ll know it’s fine enough when the 3/4 cup shredded can pack into 1/2 cup.
Return the half-cup of finely chopped coconut to the food processor. Add the butter, powdered sugar and 2 cups flour, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
Prepare a 9-inch-by-13-inch rectangular cake pan by spraying it with nonstick cooking spray. (You can also line the pan with heavy duty foil to help lift the bars out of the dish when they have baked and cooled.) Put the crust mixture into the prepared cake pan and spread it out with your fingers. Pat it town with a large spatula or with the palms of your impeccably clean hands. Bake the coconut crust at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
While the crust is baking, prepare the lime layer. Combine the eggs with granulated sugar either in the food processor or whisking by hand. Add the lime juice, vodka, salt and baking powder. Mix thoroughly. Add the flour and mix until everything is incorporated. (The mixture will be runny.)
After crust has baked, pour the lime mixture onto the hot crust and place the bars back in the oven. Bake for an additional 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool. Cover bars with foil and refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve.
Cut the bars into brownie-sized pieces, place them on a pretty platter, and sprinkle them lightly with powdered sugar.
— From “Blackberry Pie Murder” by Joanne Fluke (Kensington, $25)