In the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne, the Christmas season has arrived. It’s a joyous time for family, friends, and feasting, as decorations sparkle along the town’s winding streets and shop windows glow with festive displays. And in Polly’s Little Beach Street Bakery, the aroma of gingerbread cookies and other treats tempts people in from the cold.
Though Polly is busy keeping up with the demands of the season, she still makes time for her beekeeper boyfriend, Huckle. She’s especially happy to be celebrating the holiday this year with him, and can’t wait to cuddle up in front of the fireplace with a cup of eggnog on Christmas Eve.
But holiday bliss soon gives way to panic when a storm cuts the village off from the mainland. Now it will take all of the villagers to work together in order to ensure everyone has a happy holiday.
Full of heart and humor, Jenny Colgan’s latest novel is an instant Christmastime classic.
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (October 10, 2017)
Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery is the third and possibly final (say it isn't so!) book with these characters and set in an adorable Cornish coastal village. I recommend reading Little Beach Street Bakery (my review here) and Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery (my review here) before this one. I do think it is possible to catch up on the story without reading the first two books, but why would you want to? You'll get all of the back stories, the character growth, experience living in a lighthouse, and sppend more time with Neil, the most adorable 'pet' puffin out there.
This third book finds Polly running her bakery and scrambling to afford the upkeep of the lighthouse she and Huckle are living in. Huckle has marriage on his mind but Polly is hesitating on taking the next step. The storm mentioned in the back cover blurb is less of an issue to happy holidays than the tension between Polly and Huckle, family drama for Polly, pregnancy and issues between her best friend Kerensa and her husband (and Huckle's bestie) Ruben, and a threat to the local puffin sanctuary. But this is a Jenny Colgan book and it's Christmas, so ultimately things end on a satisfying note, making this a happy holiday read for even the Grinchiest of hearts.
In the foreword Colgan mentions that Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery is (probably) the last book in this series but I hope that's not the case. As much as I have enjoyed her other books like The Bookstore on the Corner and The Cafe By the Sea, I have a special place in my heart for these characters and village--I'd love to continue on with them.
Author Notes: Jenny Colgan is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous novels, including The Bookshop on the Corner, Little Beach Street Bakery, and Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.
Find out more about Jenny at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
There is plenty of food inspiration is Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery--the bulk being baked good and pastries. Polly's olive oil focaccia and scones, fish and chips, Polly's bread spread with salted local butter and Huckle's orange blossom honey, sandwiches and pasties, croissants, cream cheese brownies, doughnuts, cheese twists, tea and coffee, pecan and cinnamon buns, apple turnovers, Empire biscuits, Sachertorte, coarse brown bread with fresh salty butter and loads of smoked salmon on top, chocolate coins, raisin and cinnamon Christmas twists, mince pie bites, gingerbread, clotted cream fudge, brandy-soaked Christmas cakes, religieuses, chocolate matzos, rugelach, knishes, mulled wine, and galette des rois.
There are still more food mentions but I stopped writing them down and just enjoyed immersing myself in the book because I knew I wanted to make the Awesome Hot Chocolate. (Yes, it's still warm and humid here but at least this week has been windy and rainy--if I waited for cool weather I'd hardly have time to make anything hot!)
There is a recipe for the hot chocolate in the back of the book (along with recipes for the knishes, mincemeat twists, and galette des rois). I stuck to the recipe ingredients for the chocolate but I found the method of heating the chocolate first in a pan on the store too worrisome with my tricky stove burners or dragging out a double boiler, so I slowly warmed the milk, then added the chocolate and whisked and stirred and slowly melted it. I chose not to add anything other than a touch of vanilla at the end---it was plenty sweet and I was craving the chocolate rather than the taste of liqueur.
I served my Awesome Hot Chocolate with toasted cranberry-walnut bread, spread with good salted butter and my favorite Big Island Bees Lehua and Cinnamon Honey.
Awesome Hot Chocolate
Slightly Adapted from Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery
(Serves 2 to 3, or more)
Note: Jenny says, "Don't add too much cream, otherwise it will turn into pudding. But do add marshmallows, even though those two statements contradict each other. Also keep an eye on the chocolate. If it gets above a simmer when it's melting, it's all over."
One large bar of milk chocolate (the size of one they offer you in shows when you buy a newspaper. The branding is completely up to you.)
One small bar of dark chocolate (Bournville or similar but go posh as you like. If you like, e.g., chilli flavoring (I don't judge), go for that at this point.)
Brandy or Cointreau (optional)
750 ml (about 3 cups)
a dollop of single cream
vanilla to taste
ginger or cinnamon to taste
2 tsp sugar (optional)
Melt the chocolate INCREDIBLY slowly stirring over a very low heat. If you've got small people chuntering around, they may need a distraction whilst you get this together. if you don't, a small slug of brandy or Cointreau is practically de riguer.
When the chocolate is melted, add up to 750ml of whole milk--the precise consistency is up to you--and a dollop of single cream. it should be lovely and thick but not dessert.
A spot of vanilla; a tiny pinch of ginger or cinnamon to taste. Some people add a teaspoon or two of sugar at this point, and that is entirely to your taste. I do.
If you have a foamer, use that; otherwise carefully whisk and pour.
Small marshmallows or tiny ones are up to you. I prefer the little ones because it feels like I get more. Don't look at me like that.
Drink slowly. Possibly with this book in your hands.
Notes/Results: This is an ultra rich hot chocolate, thick and creamy with sweet delicious chocolate flavor. I think as a snack, the hot chocolate or the toast would suffice without the sugar overload of both treats (the salted butter and yeasty bread helped the overall sweetness level a bit) but it certainly was tasty. I also may have overdone the mini marshmallows a tad--they spread out all over the top and got nicely melty so they were hard to resist. ;-) I may have consumed my hot chocolate with the air conditioning on, but it was worth every sip and is "awesome" as the recipe title suggests. This hot chocolate is one you would save to make when you want a really indulgent treat rather than a quick and simple cup of cocoa but it was well worth it. I would make it again.
I am linking this post up as my ninth entry for Foodie Reads 2017. You can check out the October Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.
I'm also linking up to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.
Note: A review copy of "Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.