Do you know what Christmastime means to a chocolate expert?
It means a little (much deserved) time off, that’s what.
You might not have noticed this before, but there’s not all that much Theobroma cacao involved in your typical yuletide celebration. Sure, chocolate Santas make an appearance in a stocking or two. Delicious peppermint mocha drinks pop up, and (maybe) homemade fudge. But aside from those chocolaty treats, almost all of the sweets involved in the festive season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve are of the nonchocolate variety.
Frankly, it’s a missed opportunity for deliciousness, I’d say. But I didn’t make up the system. It just so happens that other treats—fruitcake and mince pies, most conspicuously—got there first. They achieved prominence with old-timey treats-loving types before chocolate even got out of the starting gate. After all, chocolate desserts date only to the 1700s or so, when British sailors first brought back drinkable chocolate from South America, launching a worldwide love affair with cacao beans and all their super scrumptious permutations.
Professionally speaking, I benefit from that chocolate amore. That’s because I know all about chocolate…and everything that’s made from it. See, I’m a bona fide chocolate whisperer—the first in the world. I work on a (typically) referral basis, helping my clients make the most of their cupcakes, confections, gelati, candies, and other creations. One day, I’m developing new products for a powerhouse global corporation; the next, I’m perfecting triple-chocolate cookies for a mom-and-pop bakery.
Large or small, I adore my clients. That’s why I’m willing to give one hundred percent to my work on their behalf. For me, there’s no mousse too melty or truffle too tricky; no matter how difficult the job, Hayden Mundy Moore never quits. When the going gets tough (or crumbly, or sticky, or irredeemably gluey), I have a tendency to dig in my heels and try even harder.
Maybe that’s why I keep getting into nonchocolate-related trouble, though. If I see something that’s wrong, I can’t help intervening. Even when the thing that’s wrong involves…how do I put this delicately?…murder, I somehow wind up mixed up in it.
At the moment, though, my (amateur) investigations into the darker side of life had been neatly wrapped up. I was officially at loose ends, facing nothing more perilous than an ordinary day in mid-December. That’s probably why I jumped at the first invitation I received to do something. Anything. The fact that the invitation in question came from my favorite husky-voiced number cruncher (aka Travis Turner, my friend and advisor) was just a bonus. I was in before I’d even heard all the details.