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An Idyllic Chocolate Shop. An island with dramatic weather. And a murder.
Welcome to Greetings and Felicitations! It is Felicity Koerber’s bean to bar chocolate factory/shop – and her refuge from the pain in her past. When she returned home to open it, she never imagined she’d be solving a murder – but now she will have to, to save her business’s reputation and avoid being framed as a killer.
Felicity Koerber has had a rough year. She’s moving back to Galveston Island and opening a bean to bar chocolate factory, fulfilling a dream she and her late husband, Kevin, had shared. Craft chocolate means a chance to travel the world, meeting with farmers and bringing back beans she can turn into little blocks of happiness, right close to home and family.
She thinks trouble has walked into her carefully re-built world when puddle-jump pilot Logan Hanlon shows up at her grand opening to order custom chocolates. Then one of her employees drops dead at the party, and Felicity’s one-who-got-away ex-boyfriend – who’s now a cop – thinks Felicity is a suspect. As the murder victim’s life becomes more and more of a mystery, Felicity realizes that if she’s going to clear her name in time to save her business, she might need Logan’s help. Though she’s not sure if she’s ready to let anyone into her life – even if it is to protect her from being the killer’s next victim.
For Felicity, Galveston is all about history, and a love-hate relationship with the ocean, which keeps threatening to deliver another hurricane – right into the middle of her investigation. Can she figure it out before all the clues get washed away?
Cozy mystery with a little sweet romance…and a lot of chocolate.
In Grand Openings Can Be Murder, Felicity Koerber makes bean to bar craft chocolate. To entice people new to bean to bar chocolate to try it out, she makes a whole line of truffles inspired by traditional Cajun desserts. Here, I’ve reversed the idea and given you a recipe for a dessert that incorporates single origin chocolate into the sauce. To counterpoint the pecans, choose a fruity-noted chocolate.
Most Madagascar-sourced chocolates have a pronounced fruity profile (though not all – you can find different flavor profiles in cacao grown in the same region). Whatever the origin, you can check the tasting notes that most craft makers include on the label or on their web site. Look for notes like raisin, cherry, or plum.
The thing I love about craft chocolate is the way the makers tend to share the story of their products and their businesses. They can probably tell you the farm their beans came from, or if bought from a collective at least the region. And they are very transparent as to how the bars you buy are produced. I chose to write my cozy mystery series with a craft chocolate maker as my protagonist because I wanted her to have that kind of passion, sense of adventure and problem-solving skills. Alongside the adventure, and solving the mystery, and the hints of romance, I hope my readers learn something new about chocolate from the parts of the book set inside Felicity’s chocolate factory.
Felicity’s Bread Pudding with Single-Origin Chocolate Whiskey Sauce
This comforting dessert combines rustic bread pudding studded with raisins and pecans with an elevated version of a classic Cajun-style whiskey sauce. You can use whatever kind of whiskey you like. For a non-alcoholic version, omit whiskey and add a tablespoon of vanilla and several gratings of nutmeg for flavor.
butter, for greasing
3 1/2 to 4 c. day-old French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
½ c. heavy cream
1 c. whole milk
2 large eggs
½ c. brown sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup chopped pecans
Powdered sugar, for garnish
1 batch Single-Origin Chocolate Whiskey Sauce
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 4 (6-inch) ramekins with butter and set aside.
Place the bread cubes in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine the heavy cream, milk, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt. Whisk to combine, then add the pecans and raisins. Stir until uniform, then pour the custard mixture over the bread. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is uniform, the allow to sit at room temperature for 45 minutes.
Divide the pudding mixture evenly in the four ramekins and bake 40-45 minutes or until the center of the bread pudding is set. Dust on a little powdered sugar and top with warm chocolate whiskey sauce. Serve warm.
Single-Origin Chocolate Whiskey Sauce
6 oz. single-origin dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 c. milk
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
2 Tbsp. whiskey
Place chocolate in the top portion of a double boiler (there should be roughly 2 inches of water in the bottom pan) over medium heat, stirring frequently until the chocolate is melted through. Remove from heat and set aside. Set aside.
Whisk together the milk and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate is completely incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Add the cream, and whisk to incorporate. Let cool completely, then stir in the whiskey. Serve on top of bread pudding or other dessert.
About the Author
Amber Royer writes the CHOCOVERSE comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series, and the BEAN TO BAR MYSTERIES. She is also the author of STORY LIKE A JOURNALIST: A WORKBOOK FOR NOVELISTS, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She blogs about creative writing techniques and all things chocolate at www.amberroyer.com. She also teaches creative writing for both UT Arlington Continuing Education and Writing Workshops Dallas. If you are very nice to her, she might make you cupcakes.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Amber-Royer/e/B00PFV4CGM