By J.C. Eaton
When we first decided to write SAUVIGONE FOR GOOD, in our Wine Trail Mysteries, we knew we wanted to focus on the chocolate and wine pairings, but the thought of a competition between renowned chocolatiers took center stage and next thing we knew, we had to learn all about the process.
And oh my goodness – what a process it is! First of all, chocolatiers don’t make the chocolate. They make the incredible confections using the finest chocolates in the world. From tempering machines to garnishing, we studied every movement and were spellbound. Then, insanity took over and we decided to try our luck at making truffles.
We had an easy recipe but our method was anything but. Here goes:
- 2 cups of powdered sugar
- 8 ounces of softened cream cheese (or Einstein’s plain smear in a tub plus 3 tablespoons)
- 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder (we used Hershey’s)
- 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips (buy a good kind!)
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- Optional: sprinkles
What we did (in sequential order):
- Removed cats and stuck them in the bedroom where they screamed
- Wiped down all kitchen surfaces with Clorox wipes
- Got out 2 large bowls
- Hunted around for our portable mixer that we haven’t seen since the discovery of dirt. Found it.
- Hunted around for a spatula since Jim said we needed it. He was right.
- We put the softened (by an hour) cream cheese in a large bowl and added the 2 cups of powdered sugar. Then we added the tablespoon of cocoa and the vanilla. Plugged in the mixer, turned it to “whip” and kept going until the mix was smooth. This is where the spatula comes in. The mix gets stuck to the blades on the mixer and the spatula removes it.
- Next, we melted a bag (2 cups) of chocolate chips for about a minute in the microwave and stirred it until it was smooth. (That’s where the second bowl comes in). We added it to the mix and re-mixed it before covering it with Saran Wrap and sticking it in the refrigerator for 2 hours. (It has to be put in a fridge for at least 2 hours).
- Then, we sat at the kitchen table and painstakingly made little one inch, more or less, balls of chocolate and rolled some of them in the cocoa powder and others in sprinkles, because Ann likes sprinkles. (The chocolate mixture is like concrete when it comes out of the fridge, but once rolled in our hands, it warmed up). Once rolled, we placed them on wax paper that covered a large tray.
- Again, we put them in the fridge. (And ate a few). We intend to put some in little containers for our friends.
- Then, we looked at the mess in the kitchen and decided who would clean it and who would clean the cats’ litter boxes instead!
This was an easy, fun recipe, and nothing like the rigors our chocolatiers faced. Still, it brought us into the spirit of the book and hope it does the same for you!
Can Norrie stop a murderer’s reign of terror?
The descent of winter on the Finger Lakes means it’s time for the Wine Trail Association’s Chocolate and Wine Extravaganza. Unfortunately, for screenwriter-turned-reluctant vintner, Norrie Ellington, her Two Witches Winery is co-hosting the festivities. Norrie’s duties include wrangling the three international chocolatiers featured at the event—bitter rivals and industry influencers who can make or break Two Witches.
But the heated competition among the celebrity confectioners soon spills out of the professional arena, and before the Extravaganza is over, one of the cocoa pros is dead, last seen sipping a Two Witches’ Cabernet Sauvignon. With spirits souring at the Extravaganza and her winery on the line, Norrie must hustle to find the uncorked killer before Two Witches’ reputation is crushed once and for all.