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Aunt Franny's S'mores Pie
1 premade graham cracker crust
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
3 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico
1 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 batch hazelnut marshmallows (recipe below)
Bake pie shell according to package; cool. Stir together sugar, cornstarch and salt in 2-quart saucepan. Combine egg yolks and milk in container with pouring spout, such as a Pyrex liquid measuring cup. Gradually blend milk mixture into sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in butter, vanilla and liqueur. Add chocolate chips, stirring until chips are melted. Pour into prepared pie shell; press plastic wrap onto filling. Cool and refrigerate for several hours. Just before serving, remove from refrigerator and take off plastic wrap. Top pie with hazelnut marshmallows and place pie under broiler for several minutes. Keep a close eye, making sure to get marshmallows to a golden brown but not burnt.
– Adapted from Hazelnut marshmallows
About 1 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 ( 1/4 -ounce) packets unflavored gelatin
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup cold water
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar

Line a 9×9 pan with parchment paper and dust the paper generously with potato starch or cornstarch. Have a candy thermometer at hand.
Put 1/3 cup of the water, 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, continue to cook the syrup – without stirring – until it reaches 265 degrees on the candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.
While the syrup is cooking, work on the gelatin and egg whites. In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining cold water (a scant 7 tablespoons) and let it sit for about 3 minutes, until it is spongy, then heat the gelatin in a microwave oven for 20 to 30 seconds to liquefy it. (Alternatively, you can dissolve the gelatin in a saucepan over low heat.)
Working in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in another large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until firm but still glossy – don't overbeat them and have them go dull.
As soon as the syrup reaches 265 degrees, remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer on medium speed, add the syrup, pouring it between the spinning beater(s) and the sides of the bowl. Add the gelatin and continue to beat for another 3 minutes, so that the syrup and the gelatin are fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla and hazelnut liqueur.
Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the meringue mixture onto the parchment-lined pan. Then spread it into the corners and continue to spread it out. Lift the excess parchment paper up to meet the edge of the batter, then rest something against the paper so that it stays in place.
Dust the top of the marshmallows with cornstarch and let the marshmallows set in a cool, dry place. They'll need about 3 hours, but they can rest for 12 hours or more.
Once they are cool and set, cut the marshmallows with a pair of scissors, a long thin knife or a cookie cutter. Whatever you use, you'll have to rinse and dry it frequently (if you use a cookie cutter, be sure to dip it in some cornstarch or powdered sugar between each use). Have a big bowl with the remaining potato starch or cornstarch at hand and cut the marshmallows as you'd like — into squares, rectangles or even strips (as they're cut in France). As each piece is cut, drop it into the bowl. When you've got 4 or 5 marshmallows in the bowl, reach in with your fingers and turn the marshmallows to coat them with starch, then, one by one, toss the marshmallows from one hand to the other to shake off the excess starch; transfer them to a serving bowl. Cut and coat the rest of the batch.
– Adapted from
Chapters 12 and 13 recap
Mirabelle and Harrison Todd's date is interrupted by the vandal. They meet Finn and April for a drink and decide to gather business leaders together to come up with a plan.
Illustration by Laura J. Gardner | The Journal Gaz

Chapter 14

Finn pulled the silver fork from his mouth and clinked the tines against the edge of the crumb-coated pink plate in front of him.

"That guy from last night," he began, "you know the one at JK O'Donnell's? I know him from somewhere."

"Really?" Mirabelle said, looking at him in the bakery dining area from behind the counter. "Where from? I didn't know you were buddy-buddy with the fine men in blue."

"I'm not," he said, pushing around the remains of the Aunt Franny's s'mores pie. "You should know that. Anyway … I'm not sure but he might have taken my report the other night over at Parkview Field."

"Ohhh," she said. "So has he called you to tell you he has great news and they caught the guy who slashed your tires?"

"Yeah. Right."

"By the way, have your tires been fixed?" Mirabelle asked, resting her head on her hands as she leaned against the counter.

Finn tousled his hair and looked up at Mirabelle. Before he could open his mouth to answer, he heard the familiar jingle of the front door. He turned to see two men walking into Queen Pin.

"Hold that thought," Mirabelle said, straightening herself behind the case.

"Eugene. Back so soon?" she teased, her grin wide. "Wade, uh, nice to see you again."

The wrinkled cheeks of the father flushed red like berries. He dabbed his brows with a crisp white handkerchief that he pulled from his pocket and smiled sheepishly at Mirabelle.

"I couldn't help it," Eugene said. "It's a hot one out there, and I thought that one of your cookie ice cream sandwiches might do the trick."

"There we go again, ice cream on everything," Wade mumbled, causing the older man to turn around and swat at his son.

Finn looked at Wade and turned his eyes to Mirabelle, who stood there, shaking her head. She shrugged her shoulders and rolled her eyes.

"He's so weird," she mouthed to her friend.

"So … ," Mirabelle started. "Are you in the mood for something special, Eugene?"

Eugene stepped up to the counter and bent over at the waist to look inside the case.

"Let's see here … I see you have … Chocolate Chip … Triple Chocolate Coconut … oh, what about this one," he said. "Let me try the candied pecan snickerdoodle. Yeah, definitely that one."

"Good choice," Mirabelle said, pulling a paper wrapper from the counter and grabbing two of the hand-sized cookies. "It's a new one around here. Do you want to go all out and have some cinnamon gelato between these or go traditional with vanilla bean ice cream?"

Eugene rocked back and forth between his left and right feet. "Oh, let's play it safe and do the vanilla."

"Alright," she said. "And you, Wade?"

"I'll take a cup of coffee," he said tersely.

"Do you want ice cream with that?"

Eugene let out a loud chuckle and slapped his right hand against his leg. Finn, who had been keeping to himself, was trying not to laugh but snorted instead.

Wade cocked his glare at Finn before turning to Mirabelle.

"Black is fine."

Mirabelle took a deep breath and looked at Finn. He could see the agitation in her face as she poured the cup of coffee and set it on the counter, and still as she scooped the ice cream and put it between the two cookies.

He grabbed the pink plate from in front of him and took it behind the counter, tossing it into a tub.

"I'll see you tonight," Finn said, rubbing Mirabelle's shoulder. "OK?"

"OK," Mirabelle said without looking at her friend.

She wrapped Eugene's sandwich in wax paper and looked up just as the door slammed shut behind Finn.

"All right, guys," she said through a forced smile. "One coffee – black – for Wade and a cookie ice cream sandwich for Eugene."

"Thanks, Mirabelle," Eugene said, grabbing his treat. "So, is that fella taking you out tonight?"

He winked at Mirabelle, causing her to twitch.

"Oh. Oh, no. Nothing like that. He's … uh … oh we're just friends," she sputtered. "Anyway, tonight is just a meeting at the coffee shop with some of the downtown business owners. We're going to talk about the rash of vandalism."

"There was another strike last night," she added when her eyes met Wade's.

"Worried, are you?" Wade smirked.

"Wouldn't you be?" Mirabelle replied.

"Hmph. You probably should be," he said, grabbing his cup of coffee. "Come on, Dad. Let's get out of here."

Wade put his hand on Eugene's back and guided him toward the door. The father took a bite of his sandwich and looked back at Mirabelle to offer a brief smile of approval.

The door jingled as the two left, and Mirabelle slumped over the counter in relief. Her head rested on the cool glass and she took a deep breath, the shop's sweet smell a welcome relief.

"What was that all about?" Mirabelle heard behind her.

"Who knows," she muttered.

April put her hand on her friend's back and rubbed in a delicate, circular motion. "I had the mixer going, but it didn't sound like someone was being very friendly."

Mirabelle shook her head. "Definitely not. Eugene's son. He's … he's … he's just not nice. There is definitely something not right about him."

"What do you mean?"

"I don't know. There's just something … something bad."