I love writing mysteries. It’s such fun to come up with characters and delve into their interesting lives. After all, something unusual must be going on if one of them is contemplating murder! But I never expected to have to bake and cook to write a mystery.
Frankly, writing the Domestic Diva Mysteries has made me a better cook. I learn something from each book. When the protagonist, Sophie Winston bakes, I have to try out the recipes. Sometimes those delicious dishes are easier to imagine than they are to prepare. And sometimes they get scratched at the last minute because they just don’t work.
There are ten recipes in The Diva Cooks Up a Storm. Some of them have become family favorites. We had never eaten Funeral Potatoes before but they’re so popular in my family that I make them regularly now. We’ve started calling them “event” potatoes, though, and through trial and error we have discovered that we love barbecue flavor potato chips crumbled on top.
One of my favorite recipes almost didn’t make it to the book. No matter how hard I tried, the crust of the Chocolate Truffle Tart with Strawberries was just impossible. It was too tough, then it was too flaky. But we enjoyed it so much in spite of the crust that I kept trying. Poor us, having to keep eating chocolate tart! I finally found a crust that I liked, and it’s now a family favorite, too.
Incidentally, I should mention that if you’re in the mood for a wonderful summer drink, look no farther than my Piña Coladas. But beware because they’re addictive!
Chocolate Truffle Tart with Strawberries
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3⁄8 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1⁄3 cup very cold water
Preheat oven to 350. Place flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor and pulse about four times to combine. While running the food processor, pour cooled melted butter into flour mixture slowly. Pulse several times. Add cold water while running. Pulse until it sticks together in small bits. Remove from food processor and press into ungreased tart pan.
Bake 18–20 minutes until it begins to pull away from the edge and is a light golden color.
11⁄4 cups heavy whipping cream
12 ounces 55% to 60% semi-sweet chocolate, chopped, or 12 ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Heat the cream until very hot but do not bring to a boil. Add the chopped chocolate. Stir until chocolate is dissolved. Pour in the vanilla and stir to mix. Pour into prepared tart pan. Set aside until cool. Refrigerate to set.
1 1⁄2 pounds small strawberries
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1⁄3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Wash and hull strawberries. Cut in half lengthwise. Place on top of the chocolate in a pleasing pattern. Beat the cream. When it begins to take shape, add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until fairly stiff.
Pipe decoratively around the top edge of the tart. Place the rest of the whipped cream in a bowl and pass it when you serve the tart.
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