The Cranky Publicist answers a question

Cranky PublicistCostumes are always part of the TTP signing near Halloween.  Last year, Nora dressed as a cowgirl but I’m not really into costumes.   I said I’d dress as what I am, a cranky publicist.  Kat kindly made me a button that said just that.  I was very happy.

So I thought I might use The Cranky Publicist moniker from time to time to answer questions or address comments, starting with this:

For nearly 11 years, I’ve watched trends in reader questions come and go.   Usually the top three are:

  1. Can you add another book to the [fill in the blank] series?
  2. Why do we have to wait so long for the next book [In Death or trilogy]?
  3. The dread In Death baby question (applied to nearly every character except Anna Whitney and Sheila Feeney).

But the question currently trending with a bullet (as Billboard magazine used to say) is:

Can you share your recipe? 

For soup (after a Nora-at-home blog) or pancakes, bread, stew (after reading a book).   Most recently it’s for Mr. Mira’s Hot Chocolate.

hot choc

Nora and I have explained quite a bit that she doesn’t actually have the recipes she creates in books.  She imagines food as the characters would create them and charts the ingredients, some of the prep, usually amid conversation that’s propelling the story.

But still there are the requests —  pleading, straightforward, sarcastic — to share a recipe so a reader can really feel like she/he is living in the book.

In the seven days since Brotherhood in Death hit the shelves, the Mr. Mira Hot Chocolate requests have escalated to the point where I decided to refresh my memory of the scene.  I grabbed the book, a notebook and started reading chapter 6 when Dennis first puts a pot on top of a pot, then adds chocolate.

Ok, I thought, melt the chocolate in a double boiler.   Wrote that down.

He puts a bowl into the freezer, to Eve’s confusion.  Ahh, I thought, the cold bowl for homemade whipped cream.  (Side note for those interested:  Nora and I have long discussed how homemade whipped cream is both delicious and easy to make.)

Eve questions, Dennis answers and as he does, he adds milk to the melted chocolate.  Then puts a bean in a bowl and crushes with a wooden dowel.  I’m going to go with vanilla on that one, which he adds with sugar to the milk.

Then he gets the frozen bowl, pours cream in it, adds some sugar and then beats it until — to Eve’s utter amazement — he has whipped cream.

I finished the scene and thought — OK we have the process, not the amounts.  What would I do if I were curious about that?

I googled “double boiler hot chocolate recipe” and there were five immediate results — the first was pretty much the same steps I’d read.

(Which set this Cranky Publicist to wondering if I somehow am magic with the Google searches or if people really just want things handed to them.  That’s an entirely different post.)

If you’re itching to try your hand at creating something akin to Dennis Mira’s Hot Chocolate here are a couple fun ways to do it.  But really, the best part is that you can take the basic recipe and add dark chocolate or a little chili or some mint or coffee — to make it suit your tastes to a T.

Fancy-Ass Hot Chocolate via A Cozy Kitchen (this recipe has the chocolate going into the milk instead of Dennis’ method).

This one just has chocolate added to hot milk: Ina Garten Hot Chocolate Recipe 

Belgian Hot Chocolate (via David Lebovitz)

Since there may be questions on other techniques, you might enjoy these two links:

How to melt Chocolate in a double boiler (video)

How to make Whipped Cream via The Kitch’n blog




86 thoughts on “The Cranky Publicist answers a question”

  1. I rarely cook but reading how Mr. Mira made hot chocolate had me drooling.

    1. How do you eat? You can’t be eating out every night. Can you?
      I am not sure whether I am astounded or envious!!

      1. Maybe Pam means she buys a lot of microwave dinners or eats a lot of raw food or has someone else in her household that cooks or lives off smoothies and sandwiches or… really… there are so many reasons why.

        1. I would think someone else cooks. My husband does the majority of the cooking. We TRY to split it up almost even, but my only guarantees of when I have to cook (at least this semester) are Tuesdays and Thursdays, when he has college classes until well after dinner time – which means Mom’s cooking, so it’s going to be an easy meal (tomorrow – hamburgers). Then during “grilling season”, we can just about guarantee for four meals out of the week, he’ll be manning the grill inside, and I’ll be manning the stove and/or oven on the inside.

          1. Tina, grilling rules! I can’t do much cooking now with all of my ailments. After I’ve cooked something, I have to rest and usually fall asleep. I use the pressure cooker a lot. Throw in a frozen roast or chicken and wait a few hours and it’s falling apart tender.

            TheGroom fries everything he eats on high and in lots of grease, so we eat separately. Somehow I manage, but I am losing weight which is probably partly muscle – not good. I need an AutoChef and a Summerset.

  2. As admin on several facebook groups and pages I can answer your question with a resounding “YES”. People do want things handed to them. Google – what?
    Bless you for your patience.

    1. yes i too am an Admin on a UK based Craft group with over 14,000 members and i am continually finding fabric, patterns , tutorials ,etcetera using google copy+paste that they could have found themselves but dont or cant be bothered its easier asking us i just want to drink hot chocolate with Mr Mira ill even make it for him such a sweetheart keep on writing love your work and its well worth the wait

      1. Why should they bother looking when with a few words one click they can have someone else do the work tell them to search it themselves, just like you do, unless of course, it’s your job and you get paid to do it.

        1. Actually my job isn’t searching for recipes for fictional food. I advise many readers to use the internet to search out recipes but this time the requests are so frequent I decided to go through the process and see the results.


          1. Good for you Laura.
            The book really did give me some ideas to make hot chocolate for my kids:)

          2. Aside from giving specific quantities, Nora did give a recipe for basic hot chocolate and basic whipped cream.

            I have made hot chocolate this way for over 30 years and it is not any more complicated than outlined in the book. In fact, you can skip the double boiler and simply make it in a pot or, if at work (or just lazing at home), make it in a mug in the microwave. You can be creative and use mint leaves or cinnamon sticks instead of the vanilla bean. Use flavored chocolates (Ghirardelli or Lindt truffles or whatever you like) instead of, or in addition to the vanilla, mint, cinnamon, etc.

            It’s super simple: heat source, chocolate of your choosing, flavoring of your choosing, milky item…yep, of your choosing (richer and creamier with half and half or cream, but almond or rice work just as well), and sweeteners if you feel the need. Heat, melt, stir, pour into a cup, and top with whipped cream (if you must).

            Stop worrying about the specifics of how much. Be creative. Try different chocolates as they all have different results and suit different moods. Sew how varying the quantities gives a different outcome. Most important to the process is just enjoy.

    2. My exact thought as I finished Laura’s comment was “Bless her for her patience,” which I see Lynn has already offered. So, here’s a second. ; ) (And thanks for the giggle.)

      1. And I heartily add mine, as well, especially since I was one of them clamoring for Mr. Mira’s hot chocolate recipe – before I’d even come to that part of the book!

    3. I have to admit I was unintentionally the same way when I first got my computer. When I asked my dad a question, he would always ask me if I looked it up. Now I try not to do that.

  3. you are hilarious & you never fail to go above & beyond, even if we whack-a-doo readers really don’t deserve it!

  4. I have been guilty of wanting to tell people at my previous job, “you know, you can find almost ANYTHING on the internet, so why don’t you look it up rather than ask?!” But where that would apply to the hot chocolate in this instance, I can see asking if Nora would share her soup recipes or bread recipes, if she had a favorite go-to recipe. A) She is famous, and we like getting recipes from favorite celebrities. B) When she shows the end results, they look so good! C) It is a proven recipe. ? Wouldn’t do me any good to get the soup recipes, though. Hubby won’t eat soup. ?

    1. Mine isn’t getting her recipe because it’s a celebrity recipe, it’s just some of that stuff – like the chocolate trifle or brownie trifle or whatever – just look so darned good. I swear she could publish a cookbook and I’d be her slave forever.

  5. I’m sorry but this cracked me up. Don’t you know we live in an entitled world and most people want things handed to them on a silver platter.
    I have lots of ideas about what I would love to read about in the series, but as it’s not my series I enjoy what Nora/JD gives us the readers. She is an artist of words and those books are her creation. Would someone go into an art gallery and dare tell the artist, he should have painted something else? I think not.

      1. Mission accomplished. I have no idea how much you are paid, but it can’t be enough.

  6. I don’t think you are a “Cranky Publicist” at all. How nice of you to go to all that trouble to research the “web” ! I would say you went above and beyond for those who were asking for a recipe.

  7. I often get hungry while reading some of Nora’s food descriptions. lol! I really wanted some sort of breakfast when I was reading The Cousins O’Dwyer trilogy. She was always in the kitchen cooking. 🙂 And the Signs of Seven always make me want pizza.

    1. If I read something that sounds really good and not sure where to start, I hit Pinterest. You can find anything on Pinterest! Then I adjust it to what I like.

  8. I won’t lie. I’m a lousy cook and Nora’s soups look amazing. But I asked for a cookbook (I am demanding) and Nora very kindly said no.


    Her pics just look yummy!

    I love reading everything Nora puts out. I would love to be a fly on the wall when you guys have conversations about the demanding readers. All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you for putting up with us.

  9. I was teary-eyed through the entire kitchen scene. I didn’t consider the recipe just Mr. Mira’s gentle, understanding and caring heart as Eve questioned him, but thank you Laura for being so thoughtful.

  10. I usually make home made chocolate pudding with much the same ingredients and worked the same way. I get my fill after making it off and on for a few months, then wait for next year. My behind, much as Peabody’s, does not appreciate those cravings but it is sooo good. I will have to try the hot chocolate. Since TheGroom won’t touch it, I guess I will have to drink the entire batch. Drats! 😉

  11. Laura, thanks for the grin at the playful snark – you did that SO well. Didn’t even occur to me to ask for the hot chocolate recipe. What would it matter unless Dennis Mira himself was making it? That’s the whole point. I always loved my grandmas’ cooking, one her fudge and her potato pancakes, the other whatever she put her hand to, but the food itself didn’t matter. It’s that they made it, with love, just like Mr. Mira did.

    1. Paula, so true. It didn’t matter what it was, it was that someone you loved made it with love. My grandma’s chicken and dumplings come to mind, and my other grandma’s sourkraut and potatoes with whatever sausage she had. (It was more the smell than the taste.)

      1. Jean, absolutely true. I can nearly smell the bread pudding, even though she’s been gone nearly 35 years. It’s all about the love.

        1. Paula and Jean – mine is my grandmother’s stuffed cabbage rolls and her Swedish meatballs. I’m drooling on my Kindle just thinking about them.

    2. Oh, I never thought about it being no good without cuddly Mr. Mira. You’re right. Although drinking pretty much straight chocolate would give me warm fuzzies, and my husband would definitely not touch it. I do love that it hurt Eve to have to question him at all.

  12. I thought the directions in the book were pretty specific and I was going to try it at some point too. It does sound amazing! I’m also surrounded by cooks who don’t measure. My grandmother often answered the question “how much do I use?” With “enough” or “until it taste right”, so not having exact measurements didn’t bother me. However, if I wanted to know, I would Google. Lol.

    1. I have a new phone and should have proofread that before I posted. 🙂

  13. Stepped away from the computer, then thought “Did I read that right?” and stepped back. Did ‘nearly every character’ mean someone actually wanted Dr. Mira to have another baby? As someone who chose to be an aunt rather than a mom, I find this constant baby bombardment just nuts. For Pete’s sake, people, she gave us Bella to watch grow up! Get over it! Whew, okay, rant over.

  14. We have the Wiki on and everytime an admin or mod suggests the poster look there, the poster gets offended and threatens to leave. InDeath does have a thread for questions that aren’t easily found nor does the wiki have a topic for. Usually short answer questions such as “which book has/does so and so do…” and someone who has read the series several times can answer. If not answered easily, then the suggestion to refer to the Wiki comes in. No one minds “I’ve checked the Wiki and can’t find…” Then there is the link or someone comes up with the answer.

  15. So, any idea where I can find the recipe for Tattie Scones?


  16. Love the article – love some of the posts. I always blame my Mom for leaving something out of a recipe she has given me as once I make it, it just isn’t as good. It must be that love factor. Whether it is from Mom, Grandma or Mr. Mira — things done with love or passion are always better when done with indifference.

    While reading this section of the book, I knew how/what Mr Mira was doing. That was a lot of work for a hot chocolate when Swiss Miss is so easy — but with the work there was love and we all fell further in love with Mr. Mira. Thank you Nora for bringing us into your stories.

    Thank you Laura for putting up with us all. Have some chocolate, that always gets rid of my crankiness. (Or Wine — but they go so well together)

  17. I love that you’ve tried to answer this question even though it is a Silly question. It seems harder and harder to please everyone -because you can’t. This I’m sure you also know.
    The “in death” books are great! Thank you Nora. I look forward to each and every one. I would never presume to suggest what I want to read in any of your books. They are not my stories – they are yours. No one knows your characters better than you. After all, you created them. I’m happy to read them. Thanks for keeping me hooked all these years. I look forward to spending much more time with you. Janet

  18. Laura, you are just the cutest publicist. Ever since I watched you at the RWA, here in NYC, I’ve admired your cool efficientcy. But dealing with the public is a crap shoot. I’ve been in sales, & my husband runs a website., & I agree- people was just plain lazy- they want what they want, yesterday. Period. I was curious too about the homemade hot chocolate. I make it from a box. So I googled it. Big deal. And yes,I ‘d love a third ID book yearly, but I’m not greedy- I’m grateful that we get two a year. Your job is not easy, but you are a lucky Laura who gets to spend so much time with Nora. And so much time dealing w/nuts. So, you gotta take the good with the bad.

  19. I have to admit, i was laughing… I always feeze a glass bowl for 10-15 min before using it to make whipped cream..
    I am allergic to chocolate so mever thought to ask for that recipe..and i do know how to work google so, i would have looked on my own.
    Thanks for laugh today! As always, thanks to Ms Roberts for the world she created, that tskes me away from mine for a while.

  20. This made me laugh! You are definitely not cranky at least when I see you. But could see why these requests would make you cranky.

  21. Okay this whole post is just so funny…you made my afternoon. You did more than anyone would expect…seriously you found and posted a recipe for Fancy-Ass Hot Chocolate, that was way above and beyond any expectations!! thanks for sharing “the Cranky Publicist”. We just love you..I surprised you didn’t just tell people to check their AutoChef:)

  22. You gals are hilarious…and I admire the way you always answer the pesky, repetitive, dumb, or even ugly questions. You didn’t sound too cranky to me. (Besides, you just know the question on hot chocolate will continue from those who don’t want to take the time to read the blog. LOL)

    I was lamenting to my daughter on my preparations for the January storm here in Virginia because after we were stuck inside I realized I forgot the hot chocolate stuff in my plans! So she proceeded to tell me how they serve it in South America – a Hershey bar sticking up out of a cup of hot milk. Seriously. Well, I just happened to have a Hershey bar on hand…and it turned out to be perfect….only whipped cream would have improved it!

    The best for last – the book was awesome as always!

  23. Lol! You are too funny! Fancy-ass Hot Chocolate!! Never heard of that one 🙂 Laura you are a sweet person to put up with all of us. If you get cranky, I couldn’t tell. You’ve always been nice to me when I’ve asked stupid questions. but I do figure you do some eye rolls sometimed 🙂

  24. Ariel needs to make Bella’s birthday cake! I miss old characters popping in!

  25. In my experience recipes in books never turn out like in the story so I never wouldn’t have made the recipe had it been included! LOL

    I’m a librarian and yes, people want someone else to do the work. They are always amazed at the information I find for them. Seriously?!? I did a Google search, people!

    You and Nora deserve kudos for all the rude questions you put up with. How do they expect Nora to write more books if they keep bothering her with questions? And if she did write more they would say, “Another one?!?” when they see it on our shelves. Never happy.

  26. I love this. And I don’t think you are all that cranky. After all- you put up with all of us crazy Noraholics.

  27. Everyone is correct. Laura, aka The Cranky Publicist, you are a riot. Your post put a smile on my face. I love Pinterest for looking up recipes. I have done that with some of the food that Nora describes in her books. Also, food I’very tried in restaurants.

    Can I just say that Mr Mira just melted my heart in Brotherhood In Death. I had tears in my eyes in pretty much every scene he was in. Reading the In Death series is like sitting down with friends and getting reacquainted. Love it.

    Thank you both for your hard work.

  28. This is so strange to me. I read the scene, strongly craved hot chocolate and googled it. It’s really not that difficult. Google is your friend.

    But thanks, Laura. 🙂

  29. Growing up my mom would make us hot chocolate, she used Fryers chocolate. Made whipped cream but put everything bowl cream and blender blades in the freezer. Just thought to get it out there.

  30. Well, my mouth was watering when I read this chapter and it is even more so now. I actually thought about making some hot chocolate, for about a minute. Thanks for looking up the recipes?

  31. First, your post cracked me up!! I loved it!
    Second, it’s weird that people can’t understand that this is a FICTIONAL book.
    We are fortunate that we are not in Dallas’s timeline or how many of us could afford any chocolate to put into our cocoa!! And SOY coffee?!! No way!
    And finally, for hot chocolate, my husband, who is a connoisseur of all things chocolate, tells me that I make the best tasting hot chocolate than anyone. Isn’t he sweet? The grandkids love it too (much) and say mine is better than their other grandmas!! Mine comes in 2 varieties, regular and hard, but Godiva is a big part of both of them and yes, I melt my Godiva and whip my own cream.
    My secret (besides Godiva) is homemade Vanilla Sugar!! Several years ago, I made a quart of vanilla sugar and I use it in both the whipped cream and the hot chocolate.
    If anyone wants the recipe(s) for my hot chocolate, I’d gladly share them.

    1. Rosemary, how about you make a big tub of your yummy hot chocolate and we all come over to drink some with you? You can pass out recipes while we are talking all things Nora. *grin* It sounds delish!

  32. I’m lucky as my first book, in English, by Nora Roberts came with Recipes.
    I thought it was a nice detail…

  33. I love you Cranky! I enjoyed this almost as much as JD or Eve would do. I thinks Nora is really rubbing off on you! Lovely add to a snowy day.

  34. posted this in the wrong place-sorry

    First I would like to say that I thought this was a very good story. It showed the growth of the series that started way back in the early 90’s. All of the characters have grown, matured and contributed to all the ID books.
    That being said I do have one little problem with the end story line-When Eve says she would have stood for the victims/killers, she is very naive in that at the time that these crimes were committed she had no power-her career would have been over because of the power that the six held. Even if the women had come to her in her present position, she would have been handicapped by the lawyers/social pressure that the men held. As Eve never got the justice that she deserved, as those who sat back and allowed her rape and abuse where never brought to justice, so would these women have been denied justice. It happens-it is not right-but it happens. I do not condone what they did but can understand why they did it.
    Other than that small difference of opinion, I loved the book and look forward to many more.

    1. I think you are wrong there. In the first book, Eve took down a sitting Senator for murdering his own granddaughter, who he had molested as a child (as well as his own daughter), who turned into to an LC, so she made him pay for using her, and he killed her. In, I THINK the second ID book, she literally took down the Chief of Police. Tibble wasn’t the original Chief. I think Whitney and Tibble would have stood behind her, because justice doesn’t get a pass, especially with something that heinous, and with that many men, and that many victims.

  35. I still don’t know what book you are talking about. Is it an older one? Sorry my age messes with me. Growing up and even when kids were in school, we would go to library for answered questions. Plus when we married we bought a set of Encyclopedias. And every one would get their answers.

  36. LOL thank you Laura!! I loved your blog. Had a long day and you made me smile. The hot chocolate scene was just perfect. I looked it up on google for ideas and while I was at it looked for chocolate triffle since that was mentioned too.
    Thanks for making this such a fun place to go. I needed this today.

  37. Adding chili (like chili powder) is one of the ways you get Aztec hot cocoa, isn’t it?

  38. Thank you for this post, Laura! When you get questions like why don’t we get more books a year, I have to laugh – there are some authors that only write one book per year.

    1. I should amend that – some authors can really crank out material….other authors take more time to write their books. Neither is better or worse, it’s just the way that writer works.

  39. ? thanks Cranky Publicist . Your hard work is really appreciated . I am sure you will only be asked and answers this question 2 million more times. Now make yourself some hot chocolate is really fixes everything ?

  40. I chuckled, and fully agree with the Bless you for your Patience, dear Cranky Publicist. I would have suggested the readers take the book and their tablet to their kitchen and follow the steps you just did. I think some readers wish to homogenize their book experiences. I don’t. I like that some authors bravely offer recipes, but either I enjoy the recipe much more than the book, or both leave me wanting. Once in a while, the book far outshines the recipe, and I wish I hadn’t made it. We all have different tastes. But I may need to go make some hot cocoa;-)

    1. I had totally forgotten this, but I once ordered a cookbook that was supposed to be by one of my favorite author’s main characters. Blech. Then the author seemed to get really angry or something and I stopped reading her books. Thankfully, I had found this wonderful author by then!

  41. Very cute. Laura you are not cranky, just normal . Chocolate does cure the crankiness. I never would have thought about asking for the recipe. Especially when I have millions at my fingertips. Thank you for a delicious read.

Comments are closed.