Making candy at Christmas is a family tradition. I was in grade school, when we first added chocolate-covered cherries to our repertoire. Marcia, who rented our upstairs apartment, joined in the fun and shared her recipe. My holiday candy selection still includes chocolate-covered cherries, but not Marcia’s version. My new iteration rolls cherries in a fondant that’s much less sticky.
I’ve been accused (jokingly) of altering the recipes I contribute to family cookbooks to insure no one can duplicate my dishes. Not true! I’m genetically predisposed to tinkering. What fun is it to follow a recipe by rote year after year without experimenting? And measuring? Only when I’m baking. My same predispositions apply to my romantic suspense manuscripts. We’ll get to that later.
Let’s consider this year’s Oreo/almond ball candy. My starting recipe called for a filling made of crushed chocolate wafers, chopped and toasted almonds, corn syrup, powdered sugar, and chocolate-flavored liqueur. Here’s my most recent modification. The amounts are best estimates because I mix till I get the desired consistency, adding more powdered sugar and/or Amaretto to fit my mood:
1 package double-stuffed Oreos, crushed in the blender
1 cup chopped toasted almonds
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup Amaretto
(Later, you’ll need at least a pound of vanilla-flavored candy coating (probably more) and maybe a cup or so of melted semi-sweet chocolates for decorating.)
I mix filling ingredients, roll them into balls in the palm of my hand, and place them on wax-paper covered cookie sheets. The candy goes into the refrigerator to harden. After the balls chill at least an hour, I melt vanilla-flavored candy coating in the microwave. Then I roll the balls in the coating and plop them back on waxed paper. Next I use a fork to fling (yes, fling) melted semi-sweet chocolate across the candy tray to create interesting patterns.
Will I use this recipe next year? Possibly. But, last year, my liquor of choice was crème de cocoa, and I used regular Oreos, not double-stuffed. Who knows what next year’s cupboard will inspire?
So how does this apply to romantic suspense? I have a very difficult time kowtowing to the conventional wisdom that conflict between the hero and heroine must be sustained throughout the book in order to keep a happy-ever-after (
HEA) ending in doubt until the last page. If the heroine and hero are truly smart, why can’t they resolve their conflicts much earlier so they can team up to defeat whatever evil threatens?
That’s one reason I’m a J.D. Robb fan. While her heroine, Eve, and hero, Roarke, occasionally argue/fight, they function as a team. Yet, while Robb’s books couple ample romance with suspense, many genre purists say her novels aren’t romantic suspense. I disagree.
Now that my Christmas candies are all made, I’m off to tinker with my work-in-progress, a romantic suspense (by my definition) set in 1938—another era no-no.