Sunday, December 11, 2005

From Sarah McKerrigan...

I have a motto regarding desserts.  If it isn't chocolate, it's not worth the fat.

Of course, there are exceptions.  I can't go to New York City without indulging in a slice of cheesecake.  Every Easter, I make these amazing macaroons that look like little bird's nests with pastel candy eggs.  And what's Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie?  (Though the best Thanksgiving pie I ever made was pumpkin-chocolate.)

But if I'm going to spend the calories, I'll take chocolate any day.

Recently, my husband, a lover of exotic, organic, raw food, has discovered chocolate nibs, chocolate in its purest form.  I have to admit, the taste of the roasted bean fragments is rich and complex, sugar- and fat-free, but you have to pick little chunks out of your teeth for hours afterwards, sort of like chewing on coffee beans.

I love a box of chocolates, even though a good half of them are likely to be duds.  I don't care for mixing chocolate with maple sugar or coconut or lemon cream.  But the surprise is half the fun, and if you get a nasty one, it's just an excuse for having another.  On the west coast, See's makes a reliable assortment, and Godiva is a pricier, but tasty choice.  Whitman's or Russell Stover's have probably sat on the shelf a while.  I'm actually quite spoiled, since my best friend lives in Switzerland, and I have access to the best chocolate on earth.  I have to limit her to sending a box of Lindt or Teuscher on Valentine's Day, no more.

Nutella is the nectar of the gods.  And never mind spreading it on bread.  I like to keep the jar in the refrigerator so that when you eat it by the spoonful, it doesn't drip.

But my favorite chocolate treat is homemade chocolate chip cookies.  They're so good that I have to make them only for pot lucks and at Christmas.  Otherwise, my family would look like potbelly pigs.  I don't do anything special, just use the recipe on the back of the Nestle bag, making them with real butter and chopping the walnuts very coarsely.  But I like lumpy cookies, and I always undercook them a little, letting the radiant heat kiss the tops just long enough to leave them chewy.  Sometimes on request, I'll make my special Christmas cookies, halving raw cranberries to add to the dough.

Unfortunately, chocolate didn't exist in Europe in the Middle Ages, which is where my novels are set.  As much as I love chocolate, my heroines can never indulge in its dusky, rich, melt-in-your-mouth, round-on-the-tongue, heavenly essence.  On the other hand, the women in my books always fall in love, which scientists contend creates the same endorphin response as chocolate!

Have happy holidays, everyone, and remember...with chocolate, nibble, don't gobble.

Sarah McKerrigan...

Stories to keep you up all night.
Riding to the rescue April 2006

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