A very warm welcome to Andrea Penrose. Her new mystery series, set in Regency England, is sure to appeal to our history buffs, anglophiles, chocoholics, and mystery lovers. Um, that covers just about all of us, doesn't it? Here's Andrea!
My new historical mystery series, which kicked off last month with the debut of SWEET REVENGE, is all about intrigue, revenge, murder . . . and chocolate! Now a number of people have asked me—did edible chocolate exist in Regency England (this, is, was Jane Austen eating bonbons?) Well, the answer may surprise you—it’s yes!
Several years ago, for my “real” job, I interviewed the head of a gourmet French chocolate company, which was originally founded by Marie Antoinette’s personal physician, and was fascinated to discover some amazing tidbits about the Regency and chocolate. So, when I started to create my heroine, Lady Arianna Hadley, her Caribbean background suddenly made an expertise in chocolate a perfect ingredient to her character.
Researching chocolate provided a number of delicious little discoveries. (Yes, I know, it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!) Marie Antoinette complained about the unpleasant taste of her medicines, so her physician came up with the idea mixing it into a solid form of chocolate—a pistole or wafer-like disc that the Queen is said to have adored. (The company, Debauve & Gallet, still offers Pistoles De Marie Antoinette . . . a 1.7 lb box costs the queenly sum of $200.) Her favorite flavor was said to be almond milk.)
What to know more about the history and lore of chocolate? Each chapter of SWEET REVENGE opens with a tidbit of history and a chocolate recipe, so I hope you will enjoy it! To whet your appetite, here’s one of the recipes—a sinfully delicious confection I call “Sweet Revenge” brownies!
Sweet Revenge Brownies
1 stick unsalted butter, plus 3 T
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus 4 oz. reserved
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 extra large eggs
1 T instant coffee
1 T vanilla
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 c walnuts
1. Preheat over to 350.
2. Melt the butter, 6 oz. of the semi-sweet chocolate and the unsweetened chocolate in a pan set over simmering water. Cool slightly.
3. In a large bowl stir together (don’t beat) eggs, coffee powder, vanilla and sugar. Add melted chocolate mixture and stir gently until well mixed. Cool to room temperature.
4. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder. Add to the chocolate mixture. Toss walnuts and remaining 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips together, and stir into batter. Grease and flour a baking pan (I like a 9x9” one so the brownies are thick, but you may prefer a 9 x 12”.) Spread batter evenly in pan.
5. Bake 20 minutes in top oven shelf. Switch to middle shelf and bake another 10-15 minutes.
For more information and fun historical facts on chocolate, please visit Andrea’s website at: www.andreapenrose.com
Have you heard about Wendy Watson's contest?
In honor of the June 7 release of A Parfait Murder (the third Mystery a la Mode), which features a story line about the Lantana Round-Up Rodeo Queen Pageant, she's giving away a little cowboy couture: a leather and rhinestone cuff, and a “rodeo queen” keychain.
To enter, send proof of purchase of A Parfait Murder (either a receipt, or a picture of you holding the book, by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put the words “Parfait Giveaway” in the subject line.