Christmas At The Candied Apple Cafe
Christmas At The Candied Apple Cafe
e-book Nov. 10, 2017
paperback Dec. 14, 2017
There's nothing so magical as Christmas in New York...
Santa is coming to New York!
Snow is falling, excitement is high and the delicious scent of chocolate drifts along Fifth Avenue – the Candied Apple Café is ready for Christmas! And no one is busier than publicist Iona Summerlin. With so much to do, she doesn’t have time to think about men, dating, or the fact her last boyfriend ditched her for her brother… Relationships are off the menu!
Hotel boss Mads Eriksson is not looking forward to the first Christmas since losing his wife. His six-year-old daughter Sofia has lost her belief in Christmas magic along with her mother, and he has no idea what to do. But an unusually festive business meeting at the Candied Apple – and meeting the beautiful Iona – starts to defrost Mads’ frozen heart, and suddenly life seems full of light and sparkle again.
If only they dare to believe, maybe all their Christmas dreams will come true!
Christmas was the most special time of year. This year Iona Summerlin had poured all of her energy into making the Candied Apple Café a Christmas wonderland. She’d started from the storefront windows all the way through the shop. Her theme had been the magic of Christmas. Standing underneath the iron worked apple that hung in front of the shop and watching as one of the crewmen on the lighting team she’d hired placed a large Santa hat on the apple made her smile.
The windows had been inspired by Frost the Snowman and how the magician’s hat that the power to bring him to life. Iona and her design team had come up with a group of kids in one window and a group of adults in the window on the other side of the door that were both looking at a very plain shop front. Every thirty seconds a wind blew through the scene and stockinged caps, berets and top hats settled onto the heads of the different characters and the backdrop changed to a magical wonderland of the Candied Apple Café with different chocolates and other offerings including their famous Minty Cocoa.
Snow fell lightly on the sidewalk outside of the Candied Apple. It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas could be heard from the shop each time the door opened and Iona stood next to her very best-friends in the world. They were being photographed for an article about the hottest holiday places in Manhattan. And Iona knew she should be satisfied, but she was already thinking about next Christmas and the things she wanted implement for next year.
This holiday season they were competing with the big guys on Fifth Avenue with their window scenes so she’d pulled out all the stops to make sure their customers got the maximum holiday experience.
And it felt like her work was paying off. Two different companies had contacted her about partnering with them for the new year. One was a luxury resort chain which even Iona admitted was a long shot. The chain had only 20 resorts worldwide and in each resort, they offered their guests one-of-a-kind experiences and retail options that weren’t available everywhere. So, signing with them would give the Candied Apple entrée into the luxury clientele that Iona thought would be wonderful. She had a few concerns though given that Hayley Dunham, their head chef was particular about who she allowed to make chocolates for their shop. So far, the chocolatiers she’d selected were herself and one apprentice.
The other option was a developer who was interested in helping them open a second location in Manhattan down in the old meat packing district which had become a trendy food mecca.
“This is so perfect, Iona. I love the magic of Christmas and I think you really captured it,” Cici Jonhson said, coming up next to her and looping her arm through Iona’s. Cici was a few inches shorter than her. Her friend and business partner had an easy smile that matched her curly brown hair. She usually wore horned rimmed glasses but had contacts in today as they were doing a photo shoot for Manhattan Magazine.
They were all dressed like…well Mariah Carey in her All I Want For Christmas video because it was sexy, Christmassy and she wanted the promo she’d arranged to be as enticing as it could be.
Hayley joined them, liking her arm to Cici’s. Hayley had blonde hair that she’d had in a pixie cut but was starting to grow out. The three of them smiled at each other. Some days it was almost more than any of them could believe. Of course, they’d had the dream of the café becoming a success but there were times when it was still hard to believe.
“Same. I just love it. This morning I stood out here with Lucy for a good ten minutes just watching the windows change.”
“I’m glad. I already have some ideas for next year.”
“Let’s get through this Christmas season first,” Hayley said.
Iona’s watch pinged and she glanced down at the device that was linked to her smart phone.
“I’m supposed to be changed and on my way to meet Mads Eriksson from the Loughman Group.”
“If you miss it then it wasn’t meant to be,” Hayley said. “And then I don’t have to figure out how I’m going to train other chefs to make candy my way.”
Iona had to smile at the way Hayley said it. It wasn’t that her technique was different to other chocolate makers it was that Hayley used her gut instinct to create unique flavors. She spent a lot of time coming up with them. Her objection to opening even one other location was quality control.
“Don’t worry. The Loughman Group of hotels aren’t going to scrimp on quality. It’s one of the reasons why I’m even talking to them,” Iona said. “I better reschedule this afternoon’s appointment though.”
She stepped aside and made a quick call to The Loughman Group and cancelled the appointment for this afternoon. She knew her focus needed to be here at the Candied Apple Café. This was what had brought them to the attention of the luxury hotel chain.
Eriksson’s assistant said she’d get back to Iona with a new time and Iona turned back to her friends. They were both so happy. Cici was a new mom with a cute newborn at home waiting for her, Hayley was engaged to a man that Iona knew loved her friend very much.
“What are you doing?”
“Just thinking how blessed we are,” Iona said, coming back over to them. “I want you to know, Hay, that I wouldn’t agree to anything that would compromise our vision for the store.”
Hayley hugged her close. “I know. But we have to think about the bottom line.”
“We do, but we aren’t in this for the money,” Iona said.
“I don’t like it when you say that,” Cici said, adjusting the red velvet Santa hat on Iona’s head. “I like it when we have a healthy profit. Makes my job much easier.”
“Money is good. It’s just not what drives us,” Iona said.
“Exactly,” Cici and Hayley said at the same time.
Then they all high fived each other.
“Do that again,” the photographer said. “Girl power.”
“More like woman power,” Iona said.
“Woman power then,” the photographer said.
This shop had come out of the three of them dating the same guy and finding out about it. These women were her heart sisters and meant more to her than she could say.
Naughty Truffle (spicy dark chocolate truffle)
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup of red colored sugar
In a medium saucepot, heat the cream, cinnamon, chili powder and cayenne pepper over medium-low heat until it comes to a simmer. Add the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Transfer to a bowl and chill in the refrigerator until it firms up, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Place the red colored sugar onto a small plate.
Remove the chocolate from the refrigerator and let sit for 30 minutes to soften.
Using a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon, scoop out the chocolate into the red colored sugar and roll them around to completely coat. Place on a plate and serve. Truffles can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days in an airtight container.
Nice Truffle (Sweet white chocolate truffle)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
7 ounces of chopped white chocolate
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
6 ounces chopped dark chocolate
1/3 cup green colored sugar
“Place the cream in a heat-proof bowl, and set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Cook until heated through. Using a wire whisk, slowly stir the white chocolate into the warm cream until completely melted. Whisk in the vanilla. Cover and chill for 1 hour or until pliable but firm enough to scoop.
With 2 teaspoons or a 1 1/4-inch ice cream scoop, make dollops of the chocolate mixture and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes, until firm enough to roll into rough spheres. Melt the dark chocolate in a
“heat-proof bowl, set over a pan of simmering water. Drizzle the melted dark chocolate over 10 of the truffles. Roll the remaining truffles in the green colored sugar. Chill until ready to serve.