It’s always a delight to pick up the first book in a brand new series and the cover of ASKING FOR TRUFFLE by Dorothy St. James drew me in… a chocolate shop, a cute dog, and a southern location! The protagonist, Charity Penn (who goes by Penn), was abandoned twice in one day as a newborn infant. Raised in her distant grandmother’s household by staff, she’s learned to shield herself from emotional hurt. As a result, she’s “prickly as a porcupine” and not quite like other cozy mystery protagonists. However, I thought Penn had a unique voice that was a bit self-deprecating, a bit snarky, and definitely world-weary. It gives the reader a different perspective as the story unfolds in the town of Camellia Beach which Penn describes as a rundown, shabby town where “only a bulldozer could fix a town as broken as this one.”
While Penn may be prickly, Ms. St. James creates other lovable characters to surround her and I was charmed by the two elderly women who run The Chocolate Box, Bertie Bays and Miss Mabel. I loved the time Penn spent with them in the chocolate shop and drooled over the descriptions of the candies. However, Penn didn’t arrive in Camellia Beach to learn to make chocolates. She came in search of why her friend “Skinny” was murdered at the shop and who would do such a thing to him. Especially after the police insist that it was a druggy situation gone bad. Knowing Skinny wouldn’t be involved in that, Penn decides she must find the truth. In addition to the murder plot, there is a strong subplot surrounding Penn and The Chocolate Box. Ms. St. James has a magical way with words that brings magic to the story without it being paranormal. As a result, I felt that Penn found a place that she could grow in both self-confidence and respect for herself and I look forward to seeing what the author has in store for her.
The Chocolate Box is full of delicious candies and fortunately for the reader, the author includes several delectable recipes at the back of the book. Ms. St. James has graciously allowed me to share her recipe for Dark-Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles… which were so incredibly yummy I almost didn’t want to take the time to let the candy set and form into truffle balls! The recipe is very simple to make and didn’t require fussy tempering or difficult steps, which I greatly appreciated. I had to force myself to share some of the truffles with a few friends and the first thing they said after tasting was “Do you have any more?” and then, “You need to make this again, soon!”
When Charity Penn receives a letter saying she won a trip to Camellia Beach, South Carolina complete with free cooking lessons at the town’s seaside chocolate shop, The Chocolate Box, she’s immediately skeptical. She never entered any contest. Her former prep school friend offers to look into the phony prize―only to end up drowned in a vat of chocolate.
Struck with guilt, Penn heads to the southern beach town to investigate why he was killed. But as wary as she is of the locals, she finds herself lured into their eccentric vibe, letting her defenses melt away and even learning the art of crafting delicious chocolates. That is, until delight turns bittersweet as she steps straight into the midst of a deadly plot to destroy the seaside town. Now, only Penn’s quick thinking and a mysterious cask of rare chocolate can save the town she’s learning to love.
A special thanks to Dorothy St. James for offering a hardcover copy of ASKING FOR TRUFFLE for one lucky winner! Contest ends Monday, September 18, 2017 at 11:59 pm PST and is open to U.S. residents only. Please use the Rafflecopter box located below the recipe to enter. The winner will be announced on this page and on Cinnamon & Sugar’s Facebook page, as well as notified by email (so check your spam folder!)
(So simple even Charity Penn can't ruin this recipe)
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 7 ounces 70% or higher fair trade dark chocolate bars, coarsely chopped*
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 60 whole roasted hazelnuts
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
Mix the sugar, cocoa, and salt in a bowl.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chocolate and stir until melted.
Add cream and the sugar/cocoa mixture. Stir until creamy and smooth.
Pour into a square dish. Cover and refrigerate for several hours until chocolate is set.
Remove chocolate from the refrigerator.
Use a teaspoon to scoop out chocolate.
Roll into bite-sized balls with a hazelnut at the center. They might be hard to roll at first, but as the chocolate warms to room temperature, it will become easier to work. If chocolate becomes too soft, return to the refrigerator for a few hours.
Roll balls in cocoa powder. Serve immediately or store in a covered container in the refrigerator.
*For a little extra crunch, use chocolate bars with nibs added or toss a small handful of chocolate nibs into the melting chocolate.
If the truffle candy sticks to your hands too much while rolling, liberally dust your clean hands with cocoa powder then try again.
If you receive my blog post via email you will need to visit my website to view the video.
I was provided a copy of this book with the hopes I would review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.