A Chocolatier’s Gift
Learning to make chocolate was the best part of researching the Chocolate Covered Mystery series.
In Death is Like a Box of Chocolates, the main character Michelle Serrano is a successful chocolatier who loves to pass on joy through her truffles. She believes that in a world full of good and evil, her chocolates come down solidly on the good side.
Besides taste-testing A LOT of chocolate, I interviewed chocolatiers about their businesses. Isabella Knack, owner of Dallmann’s Chocolates in San Diego, invited me into her work life and answered all of my questions about the daily challenges and rewards of a chocolatier.
Chocolatiers deal with everyday concerns of any small business --- employee issues, government regulations and increases in rent or utilities. But shifts in general eating habits, like low-carb diet crazes, can have a huge impact on their success.
Chocolatiers don’t think of their job as selling products – they get to pass on a little gift of happiness with each bite.
Isabelle supplied the recipes in Death is Like a Box of Chocolates. (Hers are much prettier than mine!) My absolute favorite is the recipe for Lavender Truffles:
12 fresh lavender flower heads
1/3 cup heavy cream
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Place the flower heads and cream in a small pot. Heat on high until cream starts to simmer and melt the butter in the mixture. Take off heat and set aside to steep for 15 minutes.
Divide the chocolate into two equal 5 ounce portions, and set one portion aside.
Heat up the cream mixture again and, using a fine-mesh strainer, strain the cream into the chocolate in a small mixing bowl; discard the flower heads and bits of lavender.
Stir the cream and chocolate together until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator until somewhat firm, but not hard, for about 1 hour.
Melt the other half of the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments until liquid.
Line a baking sheet with a piece of waxed paper. Roll the lavender mixture into 1 tablespoon-sized balls, and dip into the melted chocolate mixture using a skewer or toothpick.
Place onto the prepared baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to harden.
Death is Like a Box of Chocolates
Whether it’s to satisfy a craving for chocolate or pick up the hottest new bestseller, the locals in charming West Riverdale, Maryland, are heading to Chocolates and Chapters, where everything sold is to die for…
Best friends Michelle Serrano and Erica Russell are celebrating the sweet rewards of their combined bookstore and chocolate shop by hosting the Great Fudge Cook-off during the town’s Memorial Day weekend Arts Festival. But success turns bittersweet when Main Street’s portrait photographer is found dead in their store, poisoned by Michelle’s signature truffles.
As suspicion mounts against Michelle, her sales begin to crumble and her career seems whipped. With Erica by her side, Michelle must pick through an assortment of suspects before the future of their dream store melts away…
Includes Scrumptious Chocolate-Making Recipes!
Research for the series was such a hardship: sampling chocolate, making chocolate, sampling more chocolate, and hanging out in bookstores.
After growing up in rural Pennsylvania and attending Carnegie Mellon University, Kathy built a career in public relations in New York City. She now lives in San Diego with her husband and two daughters where she wakes up far too early, and is currently obsessed with the Broadway Idiot documentary, finding the perfect cup of coffee, and Dallmann’s Sea Salt Caramels.
And don't forget to leave a comment with your email address by September 24th to enter the giveaway for a copy of Death is Like a Box of Chocolates!