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When it comes to holiday treats, everyone has their favorites or their traditions or their excuses to eat all of the foods (that’s me!). My grandma used to make these raisin-filled sugar cookies that I loved so much. My mom still makes candy-cane shaped sugar cookies with crushed peppermint candies on them. And it’s just not the holidays until someone has whipped up a batch of Tom & Jerry batter and gotten the rest of the family snockered.
I still love all of those. Especially the boozy one. But I have found a new favorite tradition—this chocolate-orange flourless torte. It’s rich and chocolatey, with a hint of orange liqueur. I love it so much that I incorporated it into a book.
Chef Ivy Montgomery has hit a streak of bad luck that started when her soon-to-be ex-husband, celebrity chef Parker returned to Lost Coast Harbor, and as chef at a competing restaurant. All she wants for the holidays is for her new bistro to have a successful Christmas Eve event. All Parker wants is…Ivy. But the competition heats up and soon the entire town is in on this battle of the exes.
After Parker hires local pastry chef Annabel to do desserts for his restaurant—exclusively—Ivy is in a bind. She needs to figure out how to add “whip up a gourmet dessert” to her exhaustive to-do list for the Christmas Eve special at her bistro. But not to worry, Ivy’s friends Cait and Val are more than willing to come to the rescue.
“We’re going to make the desserts,” Cait said.
“No.” Ivy shook her head and turned off the flame below the custard, still stirring. “That’s not a good idea.”
Ivy set out the ramekins for the creme brûlée, then she poured the liquid into the cups.
“It’s a great idea,” Cait said. “You haven’t tasted our creation.”
Ivy frowned and pointed her whisk at Val. “You live on frozen pizza.”
“Yes, mostly,” Val said with a shrug.
Ivy then pointed at Cait. “I honestly don’t know how you even survive. You once called me to ask how to cook a hot dog.”
Cait tilted her head. “It was a valid question. If it was raw, I didn’t want to get food poisoning.”
Ivy picked up the tray and walked to the refrigerator, which Val held open for her. When she returned, she put the pot in the sink, along with the whisk and her measuring cups. Hope would be in shortly and could tackle the dishes for her. She had to keep moving on her list of tasks. And if she kept busy, that gave her less time to think about how messed up her life had become.
Ivy sighed. “I appreciate your gesture—”
Val opened the small cooler she’d brought with her, and pulled out a dark chocolate torte, cut in half, and resting on a silver cardboard disc.
“What is that?” Ivy asked, peering at the dessert.
“A flourless dark chocolate-orange torte,” Cait said, pulling off the cellophane wrap. “Try it and see what you think.”
Ivy eyed them with suspicion. “You two made this?”
They nodded and smiled, eyes wide and innocent. She didn’t buy it for a minute. But the dessert did look good. She grabbed a fork and took a bite of the rich cake. Dark chocolate with a hint of orange liqueur melted onto her tongue. The texture was dense, rich, and satisfying. With a small scoop of vanilla gelato, it would be an ideal Christmas dessert.
“It’s good,” she said, unable to keep the surprise out of her voice.
Val and Cait beamed.
“Who made this?” Ivy asked, taking another bite.
“Us,” Val said. “As far as you know.”
This dessert is a wonderful complement to the season—a treat that is rich and dense, with a hint of orange that adds a taste of the season. It’s decadent, so making it for friends and family feels like you’re giving them a luxurious gift. Enjoy!
Chocolate-Orange Flourless Torte
1/2 cup Grand Marnier orange liqueur
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
18 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
zest of one orange
All He Wants
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More About Eve
Eve Kincaid is a lapsed lawyer who decided that fictional crime was more fun than the real deal. She writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense, and co-writes the Lost Coast Harbor series with Lily Danes. When she's not writing about mysterious women and the men who love them, she's probably shopping for books, lipstick, or imported cheeses to complement a nice California pinot noir.