How to Develop a Recipe to Die For

Author Diane Mott Davidson writes mystery novels, with a delicious twist: she always includes several recipes of dishes mentioned throughout the course of the novel. And food comes up quite a bit in her books, since the main character, Goldy Schulz, is an amateur sleuth who makes her money catering parties in her community of Evergreen, Colorado. (She finds the killer for free.)Here are a few words from Diane on how she went about developing and testing the recipes for her newest mystery, Crunch Time.

I test the recipes for the books on my family, friends, neighbors…anyone with a sense of adventure. Children have the most sensitive taste buds and will give you the most honest feedback. For one season, I volunteered to bring the after-game snacks for our youngest son’s soccer team. Those nine-year-olds were the best taste-testers in the galaxy!

Sometimes I’ll have an idea inspired by a restaurant dish. I’ll give it about a dozen attempts at home, and if I still can’t come up with a taste I like, I’ll drag a fellow foodie with me to the restaurant to help me see what I’m missing. (This is what happened with the Caprese Salad.)

For the Crunch Time Cookie, I wanted something that tasted like English toffee, but was also crunchy, like an oatmeal cookie with nuts. My first attempts, with toffee chips and chocolate chips, were too sweet. So I added cream cheese for tang, and allowed the batter to ripen overnight in the refrigerator. This yielded the texture and taste I was looking for.

Finally, my friend and fellow foodie Carol Alexander tests the recipes both by cooking and tasting. She has always made wonderful suggestions and corrections, and for that I am thankful.

So what are the take-aways for those of us who like to invent our own recipes?

  • Have willing and discerning eaters at the ready.
  • Keep your taste buds open to inspiration.
  • Know your ingredients—and know when to change them.
  • Enlist another talented home cook for feedback.

If you’ve already successfully developed recipes on your own, we’d love to hear what tips you have for the rest of us! Here’s the bonus: if you comment by Wednesday April 13, you’ll be entered to win a copy of Crunch Time by Diane Mott Davidson.

In the meantime, here’s a video of Diane making her soon-to-be-famous Crunch Time Cookies (get the recipe here).

2 Responses to “How to Develop a Recipe to Die For”
  1. Love Diane Mott Davidson’s books! Looking forward to Crunch Time!

  2. Rella says:

    I love Diane Mott Davidson! I grew up reading her books and loved how they involved food 🙂

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