Showing posts with label toffee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label toffee. Show all posts

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Easy and yummy--what could be better?

Lorna Barrett must be absolutely crazy.  Why else would she write three different mystery series?  In addition to the New York Times bestselling and Agatha-nominated Booktown Mysteries, she writes the bestselling Victoria Square Mysteries as Lorraine Bartlett, and as L.L. Bartlett the Jeff Resnick Mysteries.  You can find MURDER ON THE HALF SHELF at most bookstores and online. 

And now -- Lorna!

 One of the things I like best and least about the Booktown Mysteries are the recipes.  The best part -- is testing and eating them.  The worst part?  Testing and eating them and GAINING POUNDS.  I know I’m not the only guest to post here on Mystery Lovers Kitchen to say that, but it’s true.  And when it comes to candy -- watch out!

Because my heroine Tricia Miles doesn’t really cook, I needed an easy recipe with only a few ingredients.  Tricia had everything on hand, and her sister, Angelica (who’s known for her cookbook store, her retro café, and as a bestselling cookbook author) showed her how to make this lovely toffee recipe.  It’s ready to eat in just over and hour.  (I know--the waiting is murder, but it does need to harden in the fridge.)

This recipe is terrific any time of year, but especially at the holidays.  It’ll look like you fussed for hours.

Simply Crackers Candy


One “sleeve” of saltine crackers (about 35)
2 sticks butter (1 cup)
1 cup brown sugar
1 11.5 ounce package of chocolate chips*
¾ cups chopped walnuts* (optional)

Line a baking tray with foil and cover with saltine crackers. Boil butter and brown sugar for 3 minutes until frothy. Pour over the crackers.

Bake at 400° for 5 minutes. The butter/sugar mixture will bubble. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Let set for five minutes. Spread chocolate with spatula, and sprinkle with nuts. (Gently press the nuts into the chocolate.) Refrigerate at least 1 hour; break into pieces. (Refrigerate the leftovers . . . if there are any.)

*I use milk chocolate chips, but you can vary the recipe with semi-sweet chocolate and even peanut butter-flavored chips.

 Please visit Lorna’s website ( or her Dazed and Confused blog:  You can find her on Facebook at

Friday, February 11, 2011

Chocolate Covered Strawberries!

First, a little exciting news!

They say when chocolate and flowers aren't enough...

I attended the Love is Murder mystery conference this past weekend. Always in the Chicago area, always an incredibly great time. People talk about how this is one of the warmest, most welcoming conferences out there, and they're right. So much fun. The blizzard of 2011 might have scared folks a bit in the days leading up to it, but by the time the wonderful organizers opened the doors, Chicago had its act together and we were ready to have fun.

At the Saturday banquet, Love is Murder bestows their version of a readers' choice award -- the Lovey -- to authors in various categories. I was delighted and thrilled when GRACE UNDER PRESSURE won a Lovey for "Best Traditional/Amateur Sleuth." A full list of winners can be found on Carol Thomas's Mystery Examiner Series article here.

Below is a photo of my award, isn't it gorgeous?

More news! The Love Is Murder organizers asked me to be their local guest of honor next year! How cool is that!! The other guests of honor will be Donald Bain, Julie James, David Morrell, and the delightful Hank Phillippi Ryan who has guested here a few times.

If you have a chance to come to Chicago next February 3 -5, please do so. Yes, I know it's cold here, but the people are warm and the conference is lovely.

Okay, are you still with me?

I received more awesome good news Wednesday. EGGSECUTIVE ORDERS, third in my White House Chef Mystery series, has been nominated for a BARRY AWARD in the Best Paperback Original category!

I am crazy excited and honored beyond belief. Others in my category include Val McDermid, Bryan Gruley, Sophie Hannah, Judith Rock, and A.D. Scott. Congrats to all, and good luck all around! The complete list of nominees can be found on Janet Rudolph's blog here.

You know, I'm feeling kind of out of breath just typing all that. I can't even begin to tell you what a whirlwind week this has been. Only problem... I haven't gotten any writing done! Yikes. Next week for sure!

In the meantime, I need something sweet and delicious to help celebrate Valentine's Day. And what better choice than....

Chocolate Covered Strawberries!!

Chocolate covered strawberries just ooze with Valentine's Day goodness, don't they? One of our favorite local restaurants - which is also a winery - always has delicious, fresh, chocolate covered strawberries on display. I find it *very* difficult to pass by without picking out a couple to take home.

But on these snowy, wintry days, nobody wants to go out. Not even for dinner. (Did I actually just say that??)

This Valentine's Day, why not surprise your sweeties (spouses, kids, significant others) with chocolate covered strawberries? They're easy, delicious, and I have a few hints and ideas I picked up over the years of making them.

A long time ago, a relative who always made chocolate covered strawberries for family events gave me her secret. Melt a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave, she said, but be sure to add a couple tablespoons of butter to make it smooth. And you know what, that worked. Except... I dunno... the strawberries came out with a matte finish. And they were just a little grainy, melting quickly in my fingers when I picked them up.

But then I started adding a couple tablespoons of Crisco (vegetable shortening) instead. Yeah, I know this isn't the healthiest recipe in the world, but do I plan to eat an entire pound of these at one sitting?

Umm, well, hmm. Maybe I'd better not answer that!

Anyway, just like Cleo, this is less a recipe than a how-to.

Here goes:

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate morsels (I prefer semi-sweet, but you can adjust with other flavors as you prefer)
2 Tbsp Crisco shortening, to give your strawberries that shine
1 or 2 long skewers
Toppings of choice... coconut shavings, crushed nuts, etc. I used Heath Bar crumbles - little toffee bits - that I found in the same area as my chocolate morsels.

Wash and dry strawberries. Keep the green tops on. Now... I know you've heard this before, but be sure these strawberries are completely dry. Even the tiniest bit of water can cause chocolate to seize up. With the Crisco in there, the worry is slightly diminished, but you really don't want grainy chocolate. Strawberries = dry.

Melt chocolate and Crisco in a microwave safe bowl by heating for about 15 seconds, stirring, and repeating until the mixture is smooth. You may find you need to add a little more Crisco, but don't add too much. You don't want a watery consistency.

Spear the top of a strawberry with one of your skewers and twirl in the bowl of melted chocolate until it's about 3/4 covered. I used to do this with my fingers, but the spear makes it so much easier!

At this point, you could be done. Using a fork, or your fingers, slide the chocolate covered strawberry onto wax paper to dry.

But... if you want to add extra flavor, you can take the freshly dipped strawberry and roll it in a small bowl of your topping of choice. I wasn't quite sure how the toffee would work - wasn't sure if the sweet, juicy strawberry and the coarse, crunchy toffee would work well together (sometimes it's a texture thing, you know?) but I am very happy to say that the combination was a huge hit. In fact, the toffee covered ones were the first to go.
Yep. Ate them all that afternoon.
Did I really just say that, too?

Thanks for stopping by today and thanks for letting me share my good news. Hope you enjoy making these. They're crazy-easy and make such a beautiful display. The only problem? There are never enough!

Happy Valentine's Day!