Some foods are sexier than others. Spam? So not erotic, not even when nibbled in a Hawaiian setting—and yes, for some reason, Spam very popular in Hawaii. Alcoholic drinks sometimes enhance a character’s cool factor (hello, James Bond).
When it comes to sheer emotional impact of food, if we were forced to pick only on item on the menu, I bet most of us would vote for chocolate. In chocolate’s case, I don’t mean the image factor of food. Usually chocolate’s cachet in a romance isn’t important—it’s not like martinis served in fancy glasses or, for the guys, shaken not stirred. I mean the actual therapeutic or stimulating value of chocolate that shows up in any number or type of story. When chocolate and its near relation, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, makes appearances in romances, its effect is almost as miraculous as a nice cup of tea in a British novel.
We’re talking flavor, theobromine’s pleasant energizing influence on the characters, and the richness of all that fat and sugar. Chocolate can be the ultimate comfort food or a tool for seduction.
Some writers recognize the magic of chocolate. Laura Florand has a whole series of books with chocolate in a starring role: The Chocolate Touch, The Chocolate Rose, and The Chocolate Thief
Even a love scene in The Chocolate Thief has references to the sweet stuff:
He did not speak. Not one word. His hands closed around her hips, and she gasped and shivered, flooded mercilessly with desire. His fingers flexed into her leather-clad bottom, and he lifted her as her might lift a fifty-pound cauldron of chocolate and set her on the counter.
He stared down at her, the counter bringing her almost to his height. His eyes glittered. He had caught her, and the thrill of it had taken her over until she couldn't think, only breathe, long, clean last breaths that lifted her chest and filled her lungs with scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, chocolate, and human.
Seduction and Snacks, Futures and Frostings, and Troubles and Treats are all part of the Chocolate Lovers series by Tara Sivec, an indie author who writes with a sexy, snarky voice. There might be more chocolate in the titles than the stories but hey, there are plenty of treats in Sivec’s stories.
How about an inspie romance with chocolate (and recipes)? Julie Carobini’s Chocolate Beach and Truffles by the Sea are fluffy fun books with a Christian background—and lots of chocolate.
If you want some melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness in your reading, you’ll have to stick to modern-set books. Other than some passing references to drinking a frothing cup in the morning, I couldn’t locate much chocolate in historicals. The one exception is Libby’s London Merchant, in which Benedict Nesbitt, Duke of Knaresborough “Nez” passes himself off as a chocolate merchant so he can spy on the Libby in the title. The main reason I recall the role co-star role of chocolate is because of Carla Kelly’s charming explanation she added to later editions. Apparently solid chocolate candy wasn’t available in the Regency era. Kelly couldn’t change the chocolate into the drinking sort they had back then, not without ruining the book.
A couple of authors get their readers to feel the enchantment of chocolate, literally, with magical realism.
The best-selling novel, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, celebrates the magic of food, including, of course, chocolate. (Although using water instead of milk for hot chocolate—hmm. The jury is out on that one.)
And then there’s Chocolat by Joanne Harris, another story that recognizes the power of food, especially the decadent wonder of chocolate. The single mother heroine owns a candy shop and you aren’t surprised, after reading those descriptions, that people in her village break Lenten vows to eat her treats.
If you are still hungry and want something other than sweets, there are other novels that include food, love, and love of food. Here’s one—The Wedding Officer: a Novel of Culinary Seduction by Anthony Capella. Described as a magical tale of romantic passion, culinary delight—and Italy.
Left with a hankering for chocolate? Here’s an utterly unhealthy brownie recipe. These are best warm and slightly goopy from the oven.
Ingredients:4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate
1 ½ sticks of butter
1 3/4 cups of sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips.
Melt the unsweetened chocolate and butter in the microwave (or melt it on the stove. We’re not fussy).
Add the sugar.
Once the mix is cool enough not to cook the eggs on contact, mixed in the eggs.
After the eggs are thoroughly incorporated, add the flour but don’t overbeat the batter. Add the chips before the batter is uniform in color.
Bake in a 9x13 pan at 350 for about 20-25 minutes. Don’t overcook!
These are not fussy creations so you can vary the pan size if you like thicker brownies. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time, add a few minutes if you go smaller. We like them moist rather than dry around here. When it’s done it will be solid, but a testing fork won’t come out clean (particularly if you put in enough chocolate chips). If you dislike messiness or melty chocolate, go ahead and cool them in the fridge. They’ll be more like fudge.
Kate Rothwell set out to write a natural-born do-gooder in her historical Somebody Wonderful. She writes romance using her own name and the pseudonym Summer Devon. Kate lives in Connecticut with four men (three of whom are her sons). You can out more about her at KateRothwell.com and SummerDevon.com.