posted on February 6, 2014 by Susan Wiggs

MOMENTS OF SWEETNESS

dumonMost people agree that the finest chocolate in the world comes from Belgium. There is a shop in my town that claims it comes from Venezuela, but I have made a deep study of the issue and have even managed to pinpoint the town and even the shop that has the FINEST CHOCOLATE EVER. It’s Chocolatier Dumon in Bruges or, as they say in Flemish, Brugge.

One of the chief pleasures of eating chocolate is that, to truly appreciate it, you go sloooowly, savoring the moment. And the sweetness of chocolate reminds you of other sweet moments in life.

Here’s a trip down memory lane. The most memorable Valentines Day card I ever received during my teaching days came years ago, when I was a fifth-grade teacher. I had a student whose name was Melvin, and he was what was politely known as a “challenging” child. I like to think a lot of his issues stemmed from his natural exuberance. No matter how much trouble he got into, Melvin always had that special joie de vivre that made him so much fun, even when he was disrupting the other twenty kids in the class.

One of Melvin’s biggest challenges was sitting still long enough to actually write words on paper. He wasn’t very good at it. His penmanship was awful, his spelling worse, his grammar and syntax quite…caveman-like. But he never lost heart, and one Valentine’s Day, he spent the entire morning diligently working on something secret involving a full-size posterboard and those colored fat markers that smell like fruit.

At the end of the day, when it was time for the big valentine exchange and chocolate fest, Melvin proudly presented me with the biggest card I’d ever seen. It was about 2 feet tall, 100% homemade, reeking of fruit-scented markers. Inside was a giant heart with two eyes and a huge, smiling mouth full of teeth, and the inscription, “Mrs Wiggs – HAPPY VD” and it was signed, Love, Melvin. It’s the only time anyone’s ever wished me Happy VD, so I’ll always remember that.

Finally, here is something to make your Valentine’s Day rich and delicious. I found this in the magazine discard pile at the public library. It’s from something called “The Week.”

Individual Chocolate Souffle Cakes

2 Tbsp soft unsalted butter
2 eggs
pinch salt
6 oz bittersweet chocolate (use good quality brand with a high percentage of cocoa solids)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup flour

Place a cookie sheet in the oven and preheat oven to 400. Spray 3 small custard cups with Pam. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one by one with a pinch of salt, and add the vanilla. Then blend in chocolate. Pour into custard cups, place the cups on the hot baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the tops are firm and dry. Invert each cup on a serving plate and dust with confectioner’s sugar. If you’re feeling creative, use raspberry coulis to draw a heart around the edge of the plate. chocolate Susan Wiggs’s latest release is a deluxe edition of LAKESIDE COTTAGE, winner of the RITA Award. It’s available in print, audio and digital formats where ever books are sold. Visit her web site at www.susanwiggs.com and join the conversation at www.facebook.com/susanwiggs

Susan Wiggs

Susan Wiggs

Using blunt scissors, pages from a Big Chief tablet, a borrowed stapler and a Number Two pencil, Susan Wiggs self-published her first novel at the age of eight. A Book About Some Bad Kids was based on the true-life adventures of Susan and her siblings, and the first printing of one copy was a complete sell-out.

Due to her brother's extreme reaction to that first prodigious effort, Susan went underground with her craft, entertaining her friends and offending her siblings with anonymously-written stories of virtuous sisters and the brothers who torment them. The first romance she ever read was Shanna by the incomparable Kathleen Woodiwiss, which she devoured while slumped behind a college vector analysis textbook. Armed with degrees from SFA and Harvard, and toting a crate of "keeper" books by Woodiwiss, Roberta Gellis, Laurie McBain, Rosemary Rodgers, Jennifer Blake, Bertrice Small and anything with the words "flaming" and "ecstasy" in the title, she became a math teacher, just to prove to the world that she did have a left brain.

Late one night, she finished the book she was reading and was confronted with a reader's worst nightmare--She was wide awake, and there wasn''t a thing in the house she wanted to read. Figuring this was the universe''s way of taking away her excuses, she picked up a Big Chief tablet and a Number Two pencil, and began writing her novel with the working title, A Book About Some Bad Adults. Actually, that was a bad book about some adults, but Susan persevered, learning her craft the way skydiving is learned--by taking a blind leap and hoping the chute will open.

Her first book was published (without the use of blunt scissors and a stapler) by Zebra in 1987, and since then she has been published by Avon, Tor, HarperCollins, Harlequin, Mira and Warner Books. Unable to completely abandon her beloved teaching profession, Susan is a frequent workshop leader and speaker at writers' conferences, including the Romance Writers of America conference, the PNWA and Maui Writers Conference. She won a RITA award in 1994, and her recent novel The Charm School was voted one of RWA's Favorite Books of the Year. She is the proud recipient of several RT awards, the Peninsula RWA's Blue Boa, the Holt Medallion and the Colorado Award of Excellence.

Susan enjoys many hobbies, including sitting in the hot tub while talking to her mother on the phone, kickboxing, cleaning the can opener, sculpting with butter and growing her hair. She lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Jay, her daughter, Elizabeth, and an Airedale that hasn't been groomed since 1994.

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