December 22, 2012

Holiday Cheer - Overcoming Bah Humbug

By W. Lynn Chantale

It doesn’t happen too often, but I’ve been some what of a bah humbug mood. One theory is that there’s no snow on the ground. I live in Michigan and well, in December we are at least ankle deep in snow. There have been other personal changes and though everyone is happy, healthy and looking forward to celebrating Christmas, I’m ready for January or at least the day after Christmas. 

In the meantime I’ll have to stare at old photos of snow or rather the snow fort my son built a few years ago and make brownies. Brownies are always good on a cold winter’s day. And you can enjoy them with an ice cold glass of milk or a warm cup of cocoa. That may be chocolate overload for some, but chocolate will be the only thing getting me through this snowless holiday.

Brownie Fudge 

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup chopped nuts
2 teaspoons vanilla
Fudge Topping (recipe follows)


Preheat over to 350 degrees. Butter a 13x9 inch pan. Melt chocolate and butter in a small heavy sauce pan over low heat. Stirring until completely melted, cool. Beat sugar and eggs in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually whisk chocolate mixture into egg mixture. Stir in flour. nuts and vanilla. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake 25 to 35 minutes or just until set. Do not overbake. Meanwhile prepare Fudge Topping. Immediately pour over brownies. Spread evenly. Cool in pan on wire rack. Place in freezer until firm. Cut into 1-inch squares.

Makes about 9 dozen brownies

Fudge Topping

4 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
1 package (12 ounces) milk chocolate chips
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped


Combine sugar, butter and milk in large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add remaining ingredients except nuts. Beat until smooth. Stir in nuts.
Secrets abound in Benson's Bakery. A crazed Santa wants something valuable hidden inside the building, and only two things stand in his way...Jake and Sara. 
When Sara Henderson receives threatening letters just days before Christmas, she asks sexy bread baker Jake Benson for help. Jake is more than happy to provide the muscle to keep the beautiful cake decorator from harm, but he has an ulterior motive--to steal a kiss under the mistletoe. Sara wants that kiss as much as he does, but first they have a mystery to solve. 
Will they find out who is stalking Sara, or will Santa succeed in stealing Christmas?
Once Tori arrived, Sara returned to the office.  Jake stood in the prep area, still up to his elbows in dough.  He glanced up as she walked by.  “I’m going with you to the bank.”
“You’re behind on the breads. I can take Tori with me or wait until Seth gets back.”
“I won’t be that long, Sara.”
She faced him.  “Neither will I.”
He plopped a portion of dough on a scale, checking the weight before rounding it in a ball.  “I’ll be done by the time you’re finished with the deposit.”
She groaned.  He wouldn’t leave her alone until she agreed to his company.  “Fine, I’ll even start the car to give you extra time.”
Jake inclined his head and continued his task.  Sara studied the way he manipulated the dough, used the heels of his hands to push the bread away and his strong fingers to fold it over and bring it back.  Over and over, he tugged and pulled, kneading and twisting.  For a moment, Sara envisioned him doing the same thing to her, even when he occasionally pinched the dough to see if it was ready.
“You’re staring,” he said.
She swallowed.  “I wasn’t.  How long will the dough take to rise?”
“Depends on how much heat and moisture it gets.”
“What happens if there’s too much heat and moisture?”  She met and held his gaze.
“The dough gets too sticky and it won’t rise as much.”  He never stopped moving his hands. 
She wondered what would get a rise out of him.  “I-I’ll be in the office.”
He rounded the dough.  “I’ll be here.”
She spun on her heel and bumped into the door, her face burned when he laughed behind her. Head held high she entered the office and closed the door.  What was she doing thinking about Jake like that?  Could he really want to pursue something with her now? She put her hands to her flaming cheeks, glancing through the door window. He still had his eyes on her. She spun away, and leaned against the door, a hand over her racing heart. A faint smile brushed the corners of her mouth as she went to the safe and pulled out the deposit.
Ten minutes later Sara had the money bundled, her change order ready, and her coat on.  She stepped out of the office, digging in her purse for her keys.  “I’m starting the car.  It’s snowing again.”
“Wait for me. I just have to wash my hands.”  Jake placed the last of the dough in loaf pans.
“My car is three feet from the door.”  She shook her head.  “I’m just warming up the car!”
He chuckled.  “I still have to wash my hands.”
With a huff, Sara stepped into the back alley and slammed the door.  She paused, thumbing through the jumble of keys for the right one and peered around the drab gray world.  Her car wasn’t exactly three feet from the door, more like thirty.  She pulled her hood over her ebony hair and started forward.
She was perfectly capable of going to the bank by herself, but now that she was in a winter wonderland alone, her bravado failed.  Sara crunched across the snow, bare asphalt peeking through in spots.  The keys jangled as her foot slid on an icy patch. She stuttered stepped and came to a bone-jarring halt. That could’ve been bad, she’d have to throw down more salt. Drawing in a deep breath, she moved forward again.
Rough hands seized her jacket.
Sara struggled for purchase while jerking away from her assailant.  How could she have been so stupid? Panic turned her limbs to jelly, her breath came in stuttered gasps. She had to get away. His strong grip held her purse and jacket.  She pried at his hands, but he refused to release her.  Twisting in his grasp, she stared into his cold eyes, his thin lips curling into a sneer.
“Let go!” she shouted.
“Give me what I want!”
Sara wrenched away from him, ripping her coat.  He struggled to retain his grip, yanking the purse tangled around her arm. If she could get enough room to maneuver she could get away. His fingers slipped. She raised her foot and kicked, her boot connecting with his shin.  He howled, but didn’t release her.
He seized her arms, lifting her. Sucking in a breath, she squirmed this way and that to break his hold. Santa’s sleeve fell back. Her eyes fastened on the bit of ink ringing his wrist. She struggled harder. A shriek left her lips and disappeared into the snow. She kicked her legs, hoping to connect with a body part. Nothing but air. He swung her around. She should’ve waited. The door scraped open. He gave her one final, violent shake, dropped her and fled.
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Anonymous said...

I love a great Christmas read. You are new to me author, but not for long. Your book is now on my TBR list.

Deb T

W. Lynn Chantale said...

Hi Deb. Thanks. I hope you enjoy the story. :-)

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, W. Lynn. Thanks for being my guest today. I love brownies and your recipe sounds yummy. Thanks for sharing your book with us too.

Mary Preston said...

In Australia, as you can perhaps imagine, we NEVER have a white Christmas. It's been sweltering recently, though today is a touch cooler.

Merry Christmas!!

Caroline Clemmons said...

Lynn, sounds like an intriguing book. With or without snow, Merry Christmas. Anna Kathryn and I won't have snow, either.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

LOL, that's right, Caroline. It's supposed to be in the 70's Down here in Houston, with rain. Bah Humbug! At least it could do is snow, or not rain!

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

Love Christmas reads. Romance in the air...

kmnbooks at yahoo dot com