I just returned from Left Coast Crime where my two worlds of Chocolate and Mystery collided big time. I mentioned on several panels that I was looking for mystery writers who have chocolate in their novels to Guest Blog here on Dying for Chocolate. Eric Beetner, author of One Too Many Blows to the Head, took me up on it. He'll be doing another Guest blog on Mystery Fanfare for my Partners in Crime series, authors who write with a partner.
Good Chocolate, Bad Chocolate
by Eric Beetner
I am a crime writer. I don’t write about chocolate. I beat people up, they lie cheat and steal. Often they end up dead. But I’m here today to talk about a real crime: bad chocolate.
I used to be ignorant. I grew up on mediocre chocolate. I picked Hershey kisses out of candy bowls and was perfectly satisfied with that. These days I’d sooner drink from the toilet. You see, several years ago my wife quit her job in the corporate offices of the retail industry and went to culinary school and studied to be a pastry chef. She started her own dessert catering business and in the process I became a chocolate snob.
I don’t drink wine. I find wine people pretentious. I am bothered by the fact that wine snobs will describe the taste of wine as anything under the sun from strawberry to anise to leather but never as GRAPE flavor. It’s made from grapes people! If no wine maker in the world can make wine taste like grapes aren’t they all doing it wrong?
But now I understand. I have chocolate.
“Aren’t they all the same?” people say. “Is the painting you buy at a yard sale the same as a Monet?” I say.
I am a dark chocolate guy. Don’t even call me unless it’s 70% or higher. In my office I always have at least two bars to choose from for an after lunch taste. With dark all it takes is a tiny sampling to satisfy that part of your brain that wants a treat. It’s scientific. Look it up. I had a 100% bar once and it was oddly satisfying. Not an everyday chocolate but it was a powerful jolt of the good stuff when you needed it.
For baking, my wife prefers Valhrona. Callebaut is good too. For eating I will also take a nice Valhrona bar, and they have become much more accessable/affordable. I love Green and Black’s. I’ll try almost any new chocolate and there are so many on the market. Vosges and their line of funky flavor combinations is always a treat. The chocolate and bacon bar did not do it for me, but I find myself strangely liking the one with Indian Curry. Kudos to them for making me try something new. I urge you to venture away from the Hershey aisle and strike out to try something new. Oh, it’ll cost you more but it’s worth it.
I embrace my chocolate snobbery. I don’t openly mock the wine people anymore. (except about the grape thing), and I love my wife even more for bringing me out of my ignorance and into a world where chocolate can make or break your day. Sadly she closed her business to raise our two girls. An easy decision to make and worth it. (The girls, 2 & almost 4, have never known bad chocolate. Even at Halloween we take away the bad stuff after they go to sleep) I only feel sorry for the people who don’t get to taste my wife's amazing cooking on a regular basis like I do. She agreed to let go her recipe for her signature Double Chocolate Clouds. I like most cookies best the day after or at least when they’re cooled but these go down really well still warm and gooey. And for goodness sake – use good chocolate!
(Eric Beetner is the co-author, along with JB Kohl, of One Too Many Blows To The Head. Out now from Second Wind publishing.)
DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CLOUDS
2 C flour
1/3 cocoa powder
2t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 C sugar
3/4 C butter (4oz)
1/4 C sour cream
1C semi-sweet chocolate chips
2T heavy cream
1/2 c melted choc (semi-sweet)
Melt chocolate, add heavy cream, then sour cream and let cool. Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Cream butter, add sugar, beat about 2 minutes. Then add chocolate mixture, egg and vanilla. Add in flour mixture, then fold in chocolate chips.
Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes.
Cover w/ sifted confectioners sugar while warm.
Makes 24 (1.5 ounce) cookies
I can't wait to make these. Still catching up on my work, but I see these happening in my oven this week. Thanks Eric, and please thank your wife!